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Musical Instruments

Turkish crescent

Key data

Unsigned, Switzerland(?), early 19th century

Brass, iron, wood

overall length 169.2 cm, width 39.1 cm

Inv. 1980. 2058.


Variously shaped brass elements are fixed to an iron post: from the bottom upwards, a crescent shaped frame with eight small bells, a helmet with perforated rim, a lyre with two small bells and a cross with four, and a hollow sphere probably symbolizing the world; the top is formed by a sun with a face and separate projecting rays. The post fits loosely into a wooden tube and rests on a spring. This causes it to move when marching so that the bells ring to the rhythm of the march. Its appearance in military bands from the late C18 onwards was due to the prevailing fashion for things Turkish. Its 'Turkishness' is apparent in the fondness for crescent shaped elements and musically in the desire for rattles and jingles to accentuate the march rhythm.

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Basel Historical Museum
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