Part I is concerned with the history and repertoire of the curtal, and details its use in the separate regions of Europe and their colonies. Because it was given a different name in each country and, to a certain extent, used for different purposes, in each of these chapters the curtal is referred to by the name most popularly used in that region. These names are the fagotto in Italy, the curtal in England, the bajón in Spain and Latin America, the Dulcian in Germany and Northern Europe, and the fagot in France and the Low Countries.

Part II gives brief descriptions and line drawings of all known extant curtals, including photographs where possible. The table at the end of this section provides a summary, with the instruments grouped together by size to allow comparison.

Part III comprises appendices including an index of curtal players and a timeline for the years 1525 to 1750 to provide context for some of the events which occurred during the curtal’s main period of use.