The serpent dates from the end of the 16th century, when the first of these instruments was made by Edmé Guillaume, a canon of Auxerre cathedral in France, to accompany choirs singing plainsong. The instrument's vocal quality allowed it to be played without getting in the way of voices. In the late 18th century the serpent was adopted by the military and during the first half of the 19th century it was found regularly in army bands, as well as both English and French churches. Thomas Hardy often refers to the serpent in his tales of 19th century Dorset.
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