Bombarde French
Bass-Bommer (unknown)
Bass-Pommer (unknown)
Bombarda Italian
Bombardo (unknown)
Bombart German?
Bombardon French
Bombardone Italian
Bomhard German
Bommer German
Contras de Bombarda[s] Spanish
Contras en Bombardas Spanish
Pammert (unknown)
Pomart (unknown)
Pombarda German?
Pombart German?
Pommer German

The modern Bombarde is a powerful chorus reed, usually found on the pedal at 8', 16', or 32' pitch (where it may be called Contra Bombarde), or on the manuals at 16', 8' or rarely (according to Wedgwood) 4' pitch. Its resonators are inverted conical metal or inverted pyramidal wood, and may be of harmonic (double) length in the treble. Bonavia-Hunt gives a scale of 7"-8" at 16' CCC, and says that they may be capped.

The original Bombarde had a tone midway between that of the Trombone and the Fagotto, rather softer in tone than the modern stop. It is named after the medieval instrument, a loud treble double-reed still used in some regional folk musics. Wedgwood gives its etymology as deriving from the Latin bombus, meaning the buzzing of bees or the coarse blast of a trumpet, and the German brummen, meaning to growl or mutter.

Grove describes Bombarde as the basic 16' reed in France, dating as far back as 1587, but Douglass says: “the idea of using 16' reeds did not seem to appeal to builders until about 1690, when we have the earliest examples of the Bombarde 16'.” Dom Bedos calls it “the most aggressive [stop] of all and possesses the fullest tone”, and goes on to say that it is used only in large organs, and is usually played from its own manual. The stop was known in Belgium as early as 1665 (see examples below).

Adlung describes Bombarda as “almost the same as a Sordun, except that the tone is altered as it emerges by little holes.” Regarding its tone, he says: “it rumbles like a Posaune, and is more penetrating than the Basson.” He lists as synonyms Bombarde, Pombarda, Pombart, Bombart, Bombardo, Bombardone, Pommer, and Bommer.

Audsley lists this stop separately from the Bombard, but the difference is not clear. Wedgwood states, and Grove implies (rather unclearly) that Bombarde may be synonymous with Bombardon. Pommer is also a synonym for Gedecktpommer. The name Bombarde has also been used for entire manual divisions characterized by powerful reeds, starting in France in the 18th century.

On theatre organs, the name Bombarde is used for a 16' Tuba Mirabilis.

Compare with Pombarda.


Bombarde Quinte
Contre Bombarde
Stentor Bombarde


The only two examples of the reed form of Pommer are given below. Osiris contains 23 examples of Bombarda at 16' pitch, and three each at 32' and 8' pitch. It contains hundreds of examples of Bombarde; the oldest are listed below. No examples of Bass-Bommer, Bass-Pommer, Bomhard, Bombardo, Pammert, Pombart, or Contras en Bombardas are known. Contributions welcome.

Bombarde 16', Hoofdwerk; O. L. Vrouw Over De Dijle, Mechelen, Belgium; Bremser 1665. This example was taken from a planned specification; whether it was actually built is not known.

Bombarde 16', Pedal; Basilica, St. Hubert, Belgium; Le Picard 1685.

Bombarda 16', Pedal; Cathedral, Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Spain; de la Viqa 1708-12. This is the early known example of this name.

Pommer 16', Hoodfwerk; Sint Salvatorcollegiale, Brugge, Belgium; various.

Pommer 16', Hoodfwerk; Abbey of Premontres, Tongerlo, Belgium; Klais 1933.

Contras de Bombarda 8', manual left; La Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Labastida, Alava, Spain; Francisco de Toledo 1735.

Bombart 16', Hauptwerk; Wenzelskirche, Naumburg, Germany; Hildebrandt 1746. A different source spells this example Bombarde.

Bombart 16', Pedal; Basilika, Steinfeld, Germany; König 1727.

Bombart 16', Pedalwerk; Schlosskirche, Schleiden, Germany; König 1770.

Sound Clips

See the Sound Files appendix for general information.

Bombarde 8', Choir Culver Academies, Indiana, USA Möller 1951 arpeggio St. Anne


Adlung[1]: §123 Bombarda. Audsley[1]: Bombarde. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Bombarde. Bedos[1]: § 188-191, 197, 267, 271, 276-278, 967-979, 1292.XXVI. Bonavia-Hunt[1]: Bombarde. Douglass[1]: 89-91, 107. Grove[1]: Bombardon; Contra. Irwin[1]: Bombarde. Maclean[1]: Trompetería. Skinner[1]: 70; XII Bombarde. Strony[1]: Bombarde. Sumner[1]: Bombarde. Wedgwood[1]: Bombarde. Williams[1]: Glossary: Bombarde; Contras.
Copyright © 2001 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
Bombarde.html - Last updated 13 February 2009.
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