What is the name for someone who plays the shawm….?

I have an odd question. Well, odd in that it concerns medieval minstrels/musicians and what they are called according to the instrument they played. For instance, those who played trumpets were (still are) called trumpeters and those who played fiddles were fiddlers and pipes are played by pipers, all of which seem recognisable enough to us. Those who ring bells are still called bellringers and were back then too. Lutes are played by luteplayers, and flutes by flutists/flautists.

There were instruments the names of which lend themselves naturally to the addition of er/ist.  According to page 603 of Clair C. Olsen’s paper The Minstrels at the Court of Edward III) you also had clarioners, taborers, nakerers and citolers. There are others too, of course, but I found that (admittedly limited) list.

And so we come to shawms. Were they played by shawmers, or shawmerers? Shawmists? Just plain shawm-players? None of these seems quite right. What is the correct term for someone who plays the shawm?


  1. Is there a word and we just don’t know it? Or are we looking to initiate a new one?
    If the latter, I quite fancy the sound of “a Shawmperist” which just came to me on reading the article this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds better than it looks – all those tricky consonants in the middle! But it has more “punch” than “Shawmerist” or “Shawmist” somehow… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Went to the source of all information – Wikipedia – to learn that a shawm is cousin to an oboe an ‘ill woodwind that nobody plays good” Large shawms may be called Bombards, and small ones Sackbuts. So may I suggest Bombardiers? or Sackbutters?

    Liked by 1 person

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