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Douglas Yeo, Bass trombonist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra poses with 4 serpents, ranging from contrabass to tenor to "small worm". The serpent on the right is a 19th century military serpent, made by prolific serpent maker Francis Pretty.


The Serpent is an ancient musical wind instrument, related to the modern Tuba, Euphonium, and Baritone. It is blown with a cup shaped mouthpiece which is very similar to that of a trombone or Euphonium/Baritone. Played softly, it has a firm yet mellow tone color, or timbre. At medium volume, it produces a robust sound which seems to be a cross between the tuba, the bassoon, and the French horn. When played loudly it can produce unpleasant noises reminiscent of large animals in distress. It has a musical range from C below the bass clef to at least a half octave above middle C.
Listen to a sample of the Serpent

The Serpent was historically made from wood, although other materials such as brass were used. In the 20th century, some Serpents have been made from fiberglass, plastic, synthetic foam resins, and even paper maché.

Visit the Serpent Website and Douglas Yeo's website for more information about Serpents.


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