Books by Jeremy Montagu

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Origins and Development of Musical Instruments

(Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2007)

ISBN: 978-0-8108-5657-8

This book describes the creation, use, and development of musical instruments from the Old Stone Age to the present day, and speculates on how they originated in the very earliest days of humanity. Describing how instruments began, it relates, too, how they moved from one culture to another through history, changing and developing as they went, until they reached the stages which we know in our orchestras, bands, and groups today. It surveys also the present uses of instruments throughout the world. The coverage ranges from the simplest whistles to the most complex organs, conch trumpets to sousaphones, archers' and musical bows to violins and pianos, the simplest straw reeds to the modern MIDI systems, and pairs of stones struck together to synthesizers. It is illustrated with several hundreds of instruments from all over the world on 120 plates, many of them from the author's own collection of over 2,500 instruments.

Instrumenty Muzyczne Biblii. (Krakow, Wydawnictwo Homini, 2006).

ISBN 83-89598-87-6

A translation of my 'Musical Instruments of the Bible' into Polish, by Grzegorz Kubies.

Timpani and Percussion. (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2002).

ISBN 0-300-09337-3 (hardback) and 0-300-09500 (soft-bound).

Describes the vast majority of our percussion instruments and their history and use from antiquity to the present day, in eight chapters with a long final chapter on world percussion. Four appendices describe playing techniques, how to lap your own drumheads, why drummers need to be inventive, and drummers themseves. 76 illustrations in colour and black-and-white show many times that number of instruments from my own and other collections, and also from paintings, carvings and prints.

"This excellent book....the choice of Jeremy Montagu to write a historical overview of timpani and percussion was brilliant - he brings a unique blend of the professional performer and dedicated scholar to the task....Rarely is so much learning displayed with so much grace and charm." Harrison Powley in JAMIS, 30, 2004.


Musical Instruments of the Bible. (Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2001).

ISBN 0-8108-4282-3

The book uses all the resources available to establish what each Biblical instrument really looked like and how it was played. Sources are cited in the original Biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin, always with transcriptions into our alphabet. Instruments are described and identified in the order in which they appear in the King James text. Indices list all the biblical citations where instruments appear, and the Hebrew, Greek, Latin and English texts of each citation, allowing the reader to cross-check them. Illustrated with some examples from the biblical period, rams' horns (shofarot) still in use, and some ethnographic parallels.

"He is the very model of a modern organologist - a linguist, iconographer, curator, anthropologist; performer, archaeologist, ethnomusicologist....what Jeremy Montagu stands for in this book and in the thrust of his life's work: proper scholarship in the search 'for the sound of music in antiquity'." Beth Bullard in JAMIS 31, 2005.

Reed Instruments. (Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2001).

ISBN 0-8108-3938-5

A fully annotated catalogue of all the reed instruments in my collection at that date, over 250 of all types from all over the world, double reeds, single reeds, free reeds, ribbon reeds, and others, with detailed measurements and descriptions, comprehensively indexed. A Supplement to January 2006 (pdf file) is available to download here. Some group illustrations are on the pictures page. A CD-ROM with illustrations of every instrument, and an update of instruments subsequently acquired, is available ONLY from the author 

Jeremy and Gwen Montagu: Minstrels and Angels: Carvings of Musicians in Medieval English Churches (Berkeley, Fallen Leaf Press, now Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 1998).

ISBN 0-914913-40-9 (hardback) and 0-914913-41-7 (soft-bound)

Descriptions of all Medieval instruments, with 124 photographs from the Robert and Harriet Nicewonger Archive, including all the instruments in the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral, St Nicholas, King's Lynn, St Wendreda, Cambridge, and many others. Includes a gazetteer of all the instruments known to us in churches throughout England, arranged alphabetically by town, plus an index of all the instruments in the gazetteer to help readers find carvings of specific instruments, a chronological index, and a brief illustrated description of church architecture.

The Magpie in Ethnomusicology.

(Oxford, , 1997).

ISBN 0-95278606-1-4. £2.50 plus p & p.

The John Blacking Memorial Lecture, European Seminar in Ethnomusicology, 1997, describing how and why I built up a major collection of musical instruments.

The Flute.

(Princes Risborough, Shire Publications, 1990).

ISBN 0-7478-0085-5

A brief history of the Transverse Flute from the Middle Ages to the present day, comprehensively illustrated with over 60 photographs of flutes from the Bate Collection, Oxford.

The French Horn.

(Princes Risborough, Shire Publications, 1990).

ISBN 0-7478-0086-3

A brief history of the French Horn, from the hunting horn to the present day, comprehensively illustrated with over 40 photographs of horns from the Bate Collection, Oxford, early illustrations, and other material.



Out of print books

Widely available second-hand and constantly in demand (and the rights are available for reprinting!). The history and descriptions of all the instruments of each period with notes on the roles of musicians and the use of the instruments. Comprehensively illustrated in colour and black & white.


The World of Medieval and Renaissance Musical Instruments.

(1976) 15 colour and 99 black & white illustrations.

The World of Baroque and Classical Musical Instruments.

(1979) 15 colour and 101 black & white illustrations


The World of Romantic and Modern Musical Instruments.

(1981) 13 colour and 106 black & white illustrations.



All three were published in the UK by David & Charles, and in the USA by Overlook, the first also in Australia by Ure Smith, the second by Jacaranda. Translated into German as "Geschichte der Musikinstrumente in Mitttelalter und Renaissance" (1981) and "Geschichte der Musikinstrumente in Barock und Klassik" (1982), both by Herder Verlag.

Making Early Percussion Instruments. (London, OUP, 1976).


Officially out of print, but both the Bate Collection and hold stock at £5.00 plus p&p.

A manual for the construction of all the mediaeval and many baroque percussion instruments and their accessories, with brief notes on their care and maintenance. Illustrated with explanatory drawings and some photographs.

Gwen Montagu