Unholy Rackett is comprised of Jackie Newcomb, Brock Imison and Simon Rickard.

With a shifting tide of guest artists, they recreate soundscapes familiar to renaissance and baroque ears but sadly neglected by the early music movement today.

Unholy Rackett specialises in playing renaissance woodwind instruments, especially curtals and racketts.


But what exactly ARE curtals and racketts?


The curtal (often called the ‘dulcian’ today) is the earliest ancestor of the bassoon, used in Europe and Latin America from around 1550 until around 1700.

It is made from a single piece of wood, containing a conical bore which is folded in half within the body for the instrument. The curtal has two brass keys and a brass crook or bocal, upon which sits the double reed.

Curtals were made in a number of sizes from descant to great bass, and have a nutty, expressive sound.

The curtal survives today in the form of the modern orchestral bassoon.

The rackett is an extinct woodwind used in Central Europe from around 1570 until around 1650.

It has a cylindrical wooden body (historically sometimes made of ivory), inside which a narrow, conical bore is folded nine times. Its double reed is placed within a pirouette, like that of a shawm, upon which the player’s lips rest while playing.

Racketts came in a number of sizes from alto to great bass, and have a buzzy, relatively soft sound.

For more information about these bizarre early instruments, see our blog.