One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A woodwind instrument of the 16th and 17th centuries, typically curved, with finger holes and a cup-shaped mouthpiece.
- ‘The multi-skills of the instrumentalists is a source of wonder and, again, the virtuosity is of a sort that does not seek to dazzle; cornetts and shawms are harder than they sound here.’
- ‘The cornetto, for example, which is an instrument that pretty much died out after this period was considered the instrument closest to the human voice, and it makes a very vocal sound.’
- ‘From the 1570s several north Italian composers wrote such pieces, which could be played either by an ensemble (perhaps a viol consort or a group of cornetts and sackbuts) or on a keyboard instrument.’
- ‘Their concert, entitled Per Cantare e Sonare, consisted of pieces by Monteverdi and his lesser-known contemporaries, the cornetto often standing in for a second voice.’
- ‘Jo Wherry, on violin and treble viol, played an excellent descant solo, and Jonathan Burr, who is able to produce music on the difficult mediaeval cornett, also has a pleasant singing voice.’
Late 19th century: from Italian, diminutive of corno ‘horn’, from Latin cornu. Compare with cornet.
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