I picked up a tárogató from my instrument selling maniac and friend QuinntheEskimo (eBay handle). The tárogató (or taragot, taragato) is a woodwind instrument in Bb with a conical form similar to soprano saxophone. I’ve read that the instrument probably originated in Turkey, and was played with a double reed. Around 1890, the instrument maker Schunda of Budapest invented the tárogató in its present-day form.
Today it sports a clarinet-like mouthpiece and a key mechanism with characteristics of the oboe and the German clarinet. I’ve found I like the sopranino sax mouthpiece myself. In contrast to the clarinet, the tárogató over blows to the octave (just like the oboe and the saxophone). I’m guessing the taragato is mainly used in Hungarian and Rumanian traditional music. Stephen Fox builds new ones but I got an unmarked, vintage one.
From Stephen Fox‘s site: “The tárogató of the present day bears very little resemblance to the instrument bearing the same name in earlier times. Before the mid 19th century, the term referred to keyless, conical bored, double reed instruments – shawms, generically speaking – which took a number of forms: straight or curved body, simple or with beadlike knobs; with an integral wooden bell or a metal bell.
Mention of the tárogató in Hungarian writings dates back at least as long ago as the 15th century. It is not clear whether it was first brought into Europe by the Magyars when they first immigrated from the east in the 9th century. It is certain, however, that instruments of this type, decended from the Middle Eastern zurna, were introduced into Eastern Europe by the Turks in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the term töröksip – “Turkish pipe” – which was used as a synonym for tárogató. It is possible that instruments from both traditions were combined into one entity.”
In these pictures I’ve placed my instruments next to a Bb soprano clarinet and a Bb soprano sax. The sound is a little more whiny than I’m used to but that could be due to my inexperience with the instrument.