Groupings of loud instruments characterized Saracen military bands participating in the Crusades. About 1300, similar groups, often including the shawm (a type of oboe), trumpet, and drum, appeared in the courts and towns of Europe. Town bands were manned by members of the watch and were integral to both the civic and social life of the community. These musicians participated in processions, dances, weddings, and feasts and provided incidental music for dramatic representations. During the 16th cent. the practice of playing instruments of the same family in consort (as in a shawm band) became popular, and new families of wind instruments added variety.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.