Wind Instruments

Tuba (left)
Adopted from the Etruscans, the ancient Roman tuba was not the modern tuba, but it was a long, straight bronze trumpet with a detachable, conical mouthpiece, similar to the mouthpiece of the modern French horn. The ancient Roman tubas that have been found are about 1.3 metres long, and they had a cylindrical bore from the mouthpiece to the point where the bell flares abruptly, similar to the modern straight trumpet. There were no valves, so it was capable of only one overtone series. It was essential to the military, providing commands. This idea is used in the modern United States military and is called "reveille."

Cornu (right)
The word "cornu" is Latin for "horn."  This large, metal horn was was used as a military and ceremonial instrument. It was a bronze instrument shaped in an arc covering somewhat more than half a circle. It had a conical bore, like a modern French horn, and a conical mouthpiece. It was approximately 11 feet long in length and had a crossbar brace that supported the instrument's weight on the musician's shoulder. Two of these instruments survived from the ruins of Pompei. One, under the name tiba curva was revived in France during the revolution and was used by Andre-Ernest-Modeste Gretry in his music. It was also borrowed from the Etruscans. 

Double Aulos (left)
Adopted from ancient Greece, the Double Aulos was an ancient reed instrument using double, oboe-type reeds within a conical bore. It was  loud and shrill with excellent carrying power. It is not exactly known what the nature of the music played on the Aulos was.  There is little doubt that there were considerable variations between instruments because some sources show the Aulos being played with the player's hands in the same positions on both pipes, while others show one hand set lower on one of the pipes. Clearly, there were different Auloi offering different ranges of noted.

Lituus (right)

This instrument was a straight horn with a bell that curved upwards. Seen in early Etruscan and Roman inscriptions, it is keyless and valveless, and was most likely played like a modern bugle. In art, it was depicted to be about one three feet long, but one found near a soldier's grave was about 5.25 feet long.

Askaulus (left)
This instrument is similar to a bagpipe. The word "askaulus" was a combination of the greek words aulos and askos. This instrument was known in Italy by about the second century B.C. In literature, the sound of this instrument is depicted to be somewhat buzzy, like a wasp.

YouTube Video

Oblique Tibia
This instrument is similar to the modern flute. With a length of two feet long, this instrument was adopted from the Etruscans and the Egyptians. (

Above: a recording of the oblique tibia

Fistula (left)
Otherwise known as the panpipes, the fistula typically had four, nine, or ten thin pipes bound together in a line. The musicians would blow on top, producing a sound. The pipes of the fistula were varied in size and were arranged in steps. This instrument was used indoors at parties and banquets. It was also used to accompany religious ceremonies of sacrifices and libations and were sometimes accompanied with the lyre or brass instruments. In funeral processions, the pipe and brass combination was popular. The fistula was of Etruscan origin.

Phrygian Tibia (right)

This single reed instrument used an animal horn at the lower end to amplify the sound and as such, the instrument is very similar to the later Hornpipe, except there is no open ended mouthpiece through which to blow the reed. There is no mouthpiece or windcap, so the protruding section of the reed at the very top has to be in the mouth cavity. When playing it, there is no direct contact with the reed.