Soprano schalmei. The instrument misses important parts, only "for show". It has no inscriptions except for a serial number: 35

The instrument type looks like a brasswind, but it is not. It is more like a harmonica. The sound is generated by a free swinging reed, the reed actually being a brass plate. Each horn is capable of only one tone. Single free reed horns were used for warning signs in early days. The inventor Max B. Martin joined different free reed horns to one instrument, the horns being controlled by valves. The prototype instrument was presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, hoping the Kaiser would like the instrument and order more. Kaiser Wilhelm did not understand this instrument as a music instrument -hard to blame him that- and just kept the prototype, and ordered it played when driving in his car, thus warning road users that the wehicle of the Kaiser was nearing. Today Germans still call police, fire and ambulance sirens "Martinshorn".

The Schalmei developed to a series of music instruments. It is limited to a number of tones, usually 8, but 2, 4, 5 and 12 tones are seen too. No overtones can be played, and the sound volume can not be controlled too much either. This schalmei has 8 tones, starting from g' and one octave up to g'', all without key signature so the instrument can only play C major.
The sound level can hardly be adjusted, these limitations are handled by having several instruments of the same tuning, when less sound is needed, some instruments are paused. When the melody exceeds the range of an instrument, the melody is handed over to instruments of a higher tuning.
In the time up to WW2, many instruments were destroyed, as the nazi's believed them to be Marxian. The nazi's did also use Schalmeis... After WW2, the Schalmei was forgotten, but soon reintroduced in the German Democratic Republic, where schalmei orchestras were founded in connection to larger workplaces, as the railroads. These Orchestras usually have 20-30 members with schalmeis lyres and drums.

An antique woodwind instrument called Shawm exist. Some langauges refer to this instrument as an shalmei. These two schalmei types have very little common except for being wind instruments. Still the name is used for both instruments. I will use the German spelling for the types discussed herein.

Musical historian are very disposed to forget the schalmeis. Too often the are not even recognized as musical instruments. The appear like brasswinds, but are not. They sound different. Some like the sound, others not.
General information
Maker: Martin
Made in: Germany ca 1930
Materials: Nickel plated brass.
Condition: Just for a look

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