Week eighty-six: CARNYX (probability 19189), by David Sutton

A CARNYX (plural CARNYXES) is a long war trumpet used by the Celts. Trumpets of one kind or another have been a feature of warfare since Biblical times, when Joshua allegedly used them to make the walls of Jericho fall down: 'So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat'. Perhaps a more rational explanation would be that the besieged inhabitants couldn't stand the racket so came out and surrendered.

Other historical trumpets included the Roman BUCCINA, which was curved, and the LITUUS (plural LITUUSES) which was J-shaped. Then we have the LUR, a long curved trumpet of a style still used in Scandinavian countries for calling cattle, and the SHOFAR (plural SHOFARS or SHOFROTH), a ram's horn trumpet used in ancient times as a summons to battle, and still blown in Jewish religious ceremonies. SHOFAR has a variant SHOPHAR, with plural SHOPHARS or SHOPHROTH.

The CLARION was a kind of trumpet with a particularly clear and shrill note, hence a clarion call to battle. (Confusingly, the CLARIONET by contrast was a woodwind instrument, an archaic form of CLARINET). CLARION has variant CLARINO (plural CLARINI or CLARINOS), though this can also refer specifically to the highest register of the trumpet in baroque music.

Finally one should mention the SENNET, much used in Shakespearean productions: a trumpet call used for formal stage entrance or exit, and the TUCKET, a fanfare on a trumpet: those acquainted with Chesterton's battle-poem 'Lepanto' may remember the coming of Don John of Austria:

'Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes'.


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