Bombarde in A
Gilles (Jil) Lehart
Kernigen, Trezelan, 22140 Begard, Brittany, FRANCE
Tel: +33 296 453603
The bombarde is the most common instrument used in Breton music and is
traditionally played in duet with the biniou
kozh (literally, “old bagpipe”). Due to the stiff nature
of the reed and the difficulty of playing a melody non-stop throughout a tune
on the bombarde, they are played together in a kind of call and response manner
in duets called sonerion in
Breton, or sonneurs de couple in French. The
bombarde plays the first phrase with the biniou,
stopping on the repeat of the first phrase, then picking up the melody again
on the last notes of the repeat, and continuing likewise throughout the tune.
Bombardes are quite loud, and as such were useful for large dances in Brittany
before the advent of electricity and PA systems. The biniou kozh is pitched an
octave above the bombarde and its sound carries across large dance floors while
the bombarde takes a breath.
Sonneurs de couple duets have been documented as far back as the 1700s,
and scholars have found manuscripts
and other records that indicate they
date back as far as the 1500s.
Drummers were often added in
centuries past but they are rare today.
The duets often played for weddings
and festivals as well as dances.
I commissioned this bombarde from
Gilles on a trip to Brittany in 2000 after
he declared my old A bombarde a lost
cause. It is made of blackwood and
French boxwood and has two keys
below the tonic.
Links: Bombarde FAQ