2004 P.Missin - Details

MERSENNE'S FREE REED INSTRUMENT

This illustration is from Marin Mersenne's 1636 work Harmonie Universelle. Although he describes the instrument as "Indian", it is clearly something like the Thai/Laotian khaen. The instrument was apparently from the collection of a Claude Menetrie, although Mersenne does not describe how it came into Menetrie's possession. Neither does Mersenne seem to have noticed anything unfamiliar about how the instrument worked; in fact he inaccurately describes the reeds as being "no different from the reeds of the organ".

The shape of the khaen in the picture is interesting, in that the pipes that extend the most above the top of the windchest also extend the most below the windchest. The same is also true of the khaen in the Royal Danish Kunstkammer collection, but modern instruments have the bottoms of all the pipes level with one another. It is possible that the Mersenne and Royal Danish Kunstkammer examples represent a style that was previously more common, as also suggested by this illustration taken from a Dong S'on gong dated to around 200 BCE - 200 CE:


A Brief History of Mouth Blown Free Reed Instruments
What Is A Free Reed?
Origins Of The Free Reed
Eastern Free Reed Instruments
A Selective Discography Of Asian Free Reed Instruments
Western Free Reed Instruments
Bibliography


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