shawm (shôm) [key], double-reed woodwind instrument used in Europe from the 13th through the 17th cent. The term denotes a family of instruments of different sizes. The shape and tone of the soprano shawm are comparable to those of the oboe, of which it is a precursor. The shawm was constructed from a single piece of wood that was conically bored. Shawm-type instruments exist in many parts of the world, some of them with cognate names, such as the Turkish zurna.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.