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Medieval instrument question

GUEST,RenFaire newbie 22 May 08 - 03:24 PM
Sorcha 22 May 08 - 03:41 PM
gnomad 22 May 08 - 03:51 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 22 May 08 - 03:51 PM
Doc John 22 May 08 - 04:05 PM
Sorcha 22 May 08 - 04:52 PM
Melissa 22 May 08 - 05:12 PM
Jack Campin 22 May 08 - 05:55 PM
Sorcha 22 May 08 - 06:01 PM
The Sandman 22 May 08 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,leeneia 22 May 08 - 06:17 PM
Don Firth 22 May 08 - 06:42 PM
Jack Blandiver 22 May 08 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Me again 22 May 08 - 10:42 PM
Melissa 22 May 08 - 11:15 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 23 May 08 - 03:56 AM
Jack Campin 23 May 08 - 06:47 AM
Grab 23 May 08 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Silas 23 May 08 - 07:07 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 23 May 08 - 08:35 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 23 May 08 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,leeneia 23 May 08 - 09:39 AM
GUEST,Me yet again, the barefoot mendicant monk 23 May 08 - 10:14 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 23 May 08 - 01:56 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 23 May 08 - 02:15 PM
Little Robyn 23 May 08 - 05:14 PM
Tangledwood 23 May 08 - 06:40 PM
Jack Campin 23 May 08 - 07:23 PM
Jack Blandiver 23 May 08 - 08:00 PM
Jack Campin 23 May 08 - 08:29 PM
Bert 23 May 08 - 10:00 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 23 May 08 - 10:08 PM
CupOfTea 24 May 08 - 09:41 AM
Jack Blandiver 24 May 08 - 01:28 PM
Don Firth 24 May 08 - 02:48 PM
Don Firth 24 May 08 - 03:07 PM
GUEST 24 May 08 - 05:28 PM
Banjo-Flower 24 May 08 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,caitlín 24 May 08 - 05:41 PM
CupOfTea 24 May 08 - 08:06 PM
Little Robyn 24 May 08 - 10:15 PM
Don Firth 24 May 08 - 10:37 PM
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 25 May 08 - 01:08 AM
Jack Blandiver 25 May 08 - 04:10 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 May 08 - 04:22 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 May 08 - 04:29 AM
Jack Campin 25 May 08 - 06:27 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 May 08 - 07:31 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 May 08 - 07:52 AM
Jack Campin 25 May 08 - 08:08 AM
GUEST 25 May 08 - 08:51 AM
GUEST 25 May 08 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Folestroupe 25 May 08 - 09:01 AM
The Fooles Troupe 25 May 08 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,Angharat 04 Jan 13 - 04:22 PM
Jack Campin 04 Jan 13 - 05:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Jan 13 - 09:39 PM
GUEST,Stim 04 Jan 13 - 10:40 PM
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Subject: Period-correct instrument question
From: GUEST,RenFaire newbie
Date: 22 May 08 - 03:24 PM

Hi there. I am going to a rennaissance faire for the first time in costume... some friends and I are going as beggar monks. I want to know if a lute, or guitar, or what, is the period-correct instrument if one of us were to serenade the visitors. 'Queen Elizabeth' (I assume the First, since I suck at history) is the reigning monarch there, so I am assuming it's the, what, 1500's?

Anyone with any advice (or a period-correct instrument for sale or a source where they can be located)?


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Sorcha
Date: 22 May 08 - 03:41 PM

Lute, bowed psaltry, try a google for "medieval instrument" and INCLUDE the quote marks.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: gnomad
Date: 22 May 08 - 03:51 PM

I'm no musical historian, but I would guess lute ok, guitar not. Of course pure vocal is hard to fault (and sounds right for a monk IMO).

You are right about 1500s, Elizabeth did just survive into the 1600s, but her first 60-odd years were in the 1500s. The current Elizabeth (the second) doesn't qualify for renaissance faire treatment just yet.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 22 May 08 - 03:51 PM

Either lute or small harp would work well - but I think you're better off with the harp because it's easier to get simple, nice-sounding melodies & chords out of if you're a beginner. Lutes take some technique-learning before you can get anything musical out of them, and I find them harder than guitar, though I speak as a harpist.

Any instrument is going to present a challenge if you want to play more demanding music, but for simple accompaniment the harp is great because it sounds good straightaway. Be warned, though, on the type of harp you're speaking of there will be no chromatics (sharps or flats). You have to tune into the key you want and then stay in it, and won't be able to alter notes while playing.

You can get cheap ones but they're usually crap. Where are you based, and how much were you thinking of spending? Get a decent instrument, even if it costs a bit more (which it will) because then you know it will work, it will last, and it will hold its value enough that you have something you can sell if it doesn't suit you. Best of luck - let us know what you decide -


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Doc John
Date: 22 May 08 - 04:05 PM

I wouldn't go as a monk in the time of Elizabeth I. Her Dad dissoved the monasteries and there's always the danger you'll be hanged as a Spanish spy!
Doc John


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Sorcha
Date: 22 May 08 - 04:52 PM

CLICK ME for medieval instruments. But they are NOT cheap.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Melissa
Date: 22 May 08 - 05:12 PM

Would it be time appropriate for a monk to be toting an instrument?
I can't ever remember seeing any of our monk characters carrying anything other than bread/nuts.

If I was going to my first Street Participant event, I think I'd concentrate on clothes, speech patterns and character before picking up an instrument. You'll see and hear a lot of really good musicians while you're there and can learn on site..and give yourself something to look forward to choosing for next year.

Where will your renfest be?
I think I'm envious!

Wear good, sturdy, time appropriate shoes.
People notice..participants and tourista both.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 May 08 - 05:55 PM

Lutes were very expensive in the time Queen Elizabeth I of England - no beggar could even afford to keep one in strings. They are also a non-starter as an outdoor instrument (too quiet and too sensitive to the weather).

As Doc John says, you have a chronological problem being a monk. Try Queen/Saint Elizabeth of Hungary instead.

I can't find an image of a mendicant monk with any sort of instrument. Maybe a tambourine to get the punters' attention, but that would be about it.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Sorcha
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:01 PM

I also agree that the 'monks' should just sing a capella.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:16 PM

Jews Harp.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:17 PM

Well, newbie, I come from a long line of people who hate to throw money around. And here you are, talking about buying an instrument you don't know how to play and don't know if you will like.

What if you hate the whole Renfest experience?

I have a suggestion. Why don't you and your friends learn some old, old rounds and sing them for the crowd? It will seem authentic, it will cost almost nothing, and people will like it. Here's a place to start, although a public library might be more convenient.

http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ravenscroft/modern/

That name 'Ravenscroft' is a famous one in the world of early rounds.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:42 PM

< pedant on > Actually, the reign of Elizabeth I occurred not in medieval times, but right smack in the middle of the Renaissance.< pedant off >

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 22 May 08 - 06:42 PM

Not the bowed psaltery anyway, which is a modern instrument, 1960s anyway.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,Me again
Date: 22 May 08 - 10:42 PM

Just want to touch on a couple of points:

1) Actually, I'm a pretty alright guitar player, so I don't think the lute would be too hard to learn something basic on.

2) It IS a Renaissance fair; forgive my oh-so-gauche use of 'medieval'.

3) I have plenty experience drawing a crowd from years of busking on the streets of several college towns.

Oh, and, Melissa... I do the open-air preaching and message of God's love thing in 'real life' anyway, so material won't be hard. Speech is easy; I've done accents for years. And as far as shoes go, I'm going as a poor, mendicant Franciscan friar, hence, no shoes.

It's the PA (Pennsylvania) Ren Faire; starts in August.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Melissa
Date: 22 May 08 - 11:15 PM

Glad to hear you have appropriate footwear!
Sounds like fun.

During Elizabeth's reign, I think Mary, Queen of Scots had a guitar player named Davey. If you want to do guitar, you could probably find documentation (and maybe a picture..funny looking guitar) fairly easily.

If they're tight with their fest, it might be kind of tricky to come up with an argument for a barefoot mendicant having an instrument. If you do do that, I'd kind of like to hear your justification..purely out of curiosity,not because I'm under the impression that it's any of my business.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 23 May 08 - 03:56 AM

Some lute links here:

http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/lute/lute.html

http://john.redmood.com/lutewebsites.html

http://www.luteshop.co.uk/firstlute.htm


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 May 08 - 06:47 AM

From a bit of googling it looks like "Angelus ad virginem" would be an appropriate hymn for a Franciscan monk to be singing.

But NO WAY with a lute or anything like it.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Grab
Date: 23 May 08 - 06:59 AM

And as far as shoes go, I'm going as a poor, mendicant Franciscan friar, hence, no shoes.

I'm no great history scholar, but I'd have thought a basic pair of sandals or clogs to keep your feet off the ground would be pretty much standard? Bare feet in Europe equals frostbite in winter. :-/


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 23 May 08 - 07:07 AM

"Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Melissa
Date: 22 May 08 - 05:12 PM

Would it be time appropriate for a monk to be toting an instrument?
I can't ever remember seeing any of our monk characters carrying anything other than bread/nuts."

I suppose you could clutch your nuts and sing in falsetto.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 23 May 08 - 08:35 AM

The (Irish) monks at St. Gall monastery in Switzerland not only played harp in medieval times, but their instruments were world-renowned. I remember reading an old account of this in the British Museum Library but the details now unfortunately escape me. From:

http://www.libraryireland.com/IrishMusic/II.php

it says

All musical persons have read of the world-renowned monastery of St. Gall, in Switzerland, but the fact is too often ignored that its foundation, in the year 612, was the work of the Irish saint Cellach, whose name has been latinized Gallus or Gall. This great Irishman, a student of Bangor, Co. Down, the friend and disciple of St. Columbanus, died October 16th, 646, and, at his demise, the fame of his music-school became known far and near.

Another early reference to the Irish Harp is in a distich on the death of St. Columba (d. 596), wherein we read of a "song of the Cruit without a ceis," that is, "a harp-melody without a harp-fastener [ceis]," or an air played on an untuned harp. Regarding our Irish cruit Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley, Bart., Mus. Doc., says:--"From its very construction we must assume that Harmony was known to the ancient Irish.


If you Google "st gall monastery harp" it brings up a bunch of other links, one of which is a Google-books page (not pastable) from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology which says

Performance on stringed instruments, and especially on the harp was in fact ... distinctly mentioned as such among the learned men of St. Gall...

There's more in that vein, but it conveys the idea. About the abbey itself you can check out good old Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbey_of_St._Gall

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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 23 May 08 - 08:48 AM

Remembered the guy's name: Notker Balbulus (Notker the Stammerer), and Google is a gold mine if you want more. "Notker Balbulus, abbot of St. Gall, d. 975. .... that they played in unison with the voice, or, when they had a harp..."

And from: http://harpsaroundireland.com/history/

612: 
The St. Gall's school of music was founded in Switzerland by Irish harper Cellach, from Bangor, Co. Down, who's name was latinized to Gallus or Gall. 

890: 
Tuathal, an Irish harp and psaltery player, became head master of Europe's leading music school at St. Galls in Switzerland. His name was latinized to Tutilo. Under that name he composed many "tropes" that were published by Pere Schubiger. These tunes contained many characteristics, such as "ground bass" that define Irish music today. "Hodie cantandus" and "Onmipotens Genitor" are two examples. 

Legends mentions that the use of harp by the Greeks inspired Irish monks and priests.  One of the earliest documented was St. Kevin at Glendalough who is said to have imported a small harp from Greece to accompany prayer chants. His harp had few strings and was probably a lyre.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 May 08 - 09:39 AM

Okay, newbie, your post sets certain doubts to rest. You will be poised before an audience and you have music skills already.

What you need is a ukelele.

'The guitar's roots are in Spain. Realistically, it cannot be traced back further than the 15th Century. It is thought to have been invented by the people of Malaga. This early instrument was a "four course" guitar, from which the ukulele is derived. The first guitars were very small, and were originally strung with four pair of strings. Each pair was called a course.

During the Renaissance, the guitar never had the respect the lute enjoyed. It was not considered a serious instrument. The first publication for guitar is thought to have been Alonso Mudarra's "Tres Libros de Musica en Cifras para Vihuela." Eventually, the guitar began to attract players, more publications and music began to appear.'

I suppose it will be easy to go from guitar to uke. You can get one that's kind of beat up and looks like it's been on the road. It doesn't have the multiplicity of tiny strings close together which a lute has. It will be able to withstand the knocks, heat, humidity and rain of a renfest better.

Monks were supposed to take a vow of poverty, and the combination of monk (esp. a mendicant monk) plus lute is all wrong.
=====
Who said that about going barefoot? That's nuts. Cigarette butts still burning, half-buried broken glass fragments, dog doo...

I've been gardening in my little yard for 32 years and am still finding broken glass.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,Me yet again, the barefoot mendicant monk
Date: 23 May 08 - 10:14 AM

Thanks to all. Pax et bonum.

My 'hero', if you will (and spiritual father), Francis of Assisi, was once an accomplished instrumentalist. There are accounts of him requestion a player of the lute at his bedside when he was dying. He also knew some of the violin, as he would often pantomime playing one while he sang, in French (!) to God. That's just because his father was such a Francophile that he made sure his son was educated in the French language from a small child.

Anyway, points taken about the use of an instrument. The barefoot thing, however, must stand. Francis and his followers were all discalced (without shoes) and the most strictly traditional representations of their lifestyle have always required shoelessness. I shall, of course, be careful.

My aim is to apply (here in 2008) to be allowed to give out cold water as a kindness to the patrons of the vendors. Perhaps then I will have the chance to sing some verse or extol the virtues of simplicity, humility and love that I have come to cherish. I am sure that much merriment will ensue in those days.

Perhaps I shall post a link to a picture of my humble self in garb soon, and updates from the fair as they occur.

May all good things be yours.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 23 May 08 - 01:56 PM

May all good things be yours too. What lovely thoughts - please stay in touch and let us know how it all went, and yes, do post a picture of yourself.

Whatever about the historical accuracy of using a lute or not, I think it's a lovely idea for you to play one if you already have guitar chops. (Renaissance lute tuning uses similar intervals to the guitar, except that it's based in a G-tonality rather than an E minor one - the only difference is that you would tune the equivalent of the guitar's G string down a half-tone to F#.)

Certainly I have seen plenty of lutes being played in historical iconography, but surely the poor, alms-dependent monks could not have maintained one. Stringing a harp of that period was a simpler affair (you could, in a pinch, use plaited horsehair - and they're easier to build for yourself) though the point still stands. Religious orders varied in their material possessions and resources just like everyone else in society, I suppose.

But: How many people outside of us brilliant Mudcatters are going to know that? If you're a guitarist already, why not try lute too? People will derive pleasure from it, and whenever you do your ordinary busking I bet you'd clean up with the crowds :-)

Anyway, keep us posted. (You're sure about that barefoot thing? I feel the same as the others, but if you absolutely must do this, get a tetanus shot BEFOREhand. Really. I mean it. Afterwards isn't the same.)

Best of luck to you -

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 23 May 08 - 02:15 PM

I'll go away after this, promise, but I couldn't resist this, courtesy of Google Books:

Francis, lying ill, had a wish ... for the soothing of some sound that would cheer him and that his spirit hard put by disease might find relief. For music changes our moods, as the minstrel moved Elisha. At the sound of a harp, a fool frolics; a decent man sings praise. But the honest wish no mortal was found to satisfy, God fulfilled in his kindness through the service of an angel. For at the time when it was night and he was still awake, all at once there sounded as of a harp's wondrous euphony a melody most rare, with so much of delight of feeling affecting him that amid the pleasures of paradise he thought, in ecstasy of soul, he was already present.

And then - at the bottom of the page - a banner reads:
"St Francis of Assisi, 70% off!!"

Good old Google. Sigh.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Little Robyn
Date: 23 May 08 - 05:14 PM

I have a Hohner 'lute' strung as a guitar. (No you can't have it and anyway it's here in NZ.)
They were made in the late 50s, early 60s I believe and later they made them with flat backs but mine has a lovely clinker-built sort of back.
Anyway, if you could locate one of those it would be perfect - it looks the part but you don't need to learn new tunings unless you want to.
Cheers,
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Tangledwood
Date: 23 May 08 - 06:40 PM

Anyone with any advice (or a period-correct instrument for sale or a source where they can be located)?

Getting a custom built instrument from the opposite side of the world is probably not the route you want to take, and they may not be authentic rennaissance but they are nice.

http://www.penelopeswales.com/gourd_instruments.htm


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 May 08 - 07:23 PM

For a late mediaeval type of lute, get a cobza - see my webpage on it:

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Cobza/

Similar lutes are found in many pictures and sculptures from the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, from all over Europe. They seem to have been the predominant design.

Still, NO monk would have played one.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 May 08 - 08:00 PM

I've been after a cobza / koboz for years; a mate made me a surrogate koboz with a flat back, fretless finger board & four concordant double courses which sounds about right, but doesn't look the part in the slightest. Various Hungarian bands have used them over the years - Makvirag for one, but my favoite player is Hungarian lutenist Andras Kecskes, who used one throughout the Clemencic Consort's landmark medieval albums of the 70s.   

Still looking!


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 May 08 - 08:29 PM

Hora Instruments in Reghin, Romania. Website link from my cobza page. Mine was made there but bought from an importer who doesn't deal with them any more. I still haven't solved the bastard unstable high A string problem and (not needing to to be mediaevally authentic-looking) may fit machine tuners.

You might get a better one from a Hungarian maker, I can find out this summer. To shop around, *the* place to be is the huge crafts fair in Sopron Castle on 20 August.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bert
Date: 23 May 08 - 10:00 PM

Well now, it doesn't matter too much 'cos nobody else knows anything about it.

At one fair I went to I broke my oud trying to tune it up to a guitar, so I got my old Yamaha guitar and stuck a paper doily over the sound hole and pretended it was a Baroque guitar.   But in the end it came down to my choice of song and I was a great hit singing "The Old Sow Song".


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 23 May 08 - 10:08 PM

"Not the bowed psaltery anyway, which is a modern instrument, 1960s anyway."

Much too late. There were even Marx Musical Instrument Co. bowed psalteries in the 19th C. I don't know how much earlier, though, and, like you, I am sure they weren't "medieval" in any way.

As for what to play, the early versions of fiddles -- the viols and the rebek were contemporaneous, the recorder and other flutes were not unknown, the jew's harp, of course, is OK, and harps were well-known (though, as with the lute, not for the average peasant or traveling minstrel, due to cost). I think I'd opt for the recorder (or another kind of fipple flute -- I'm not sure it the modern recorder was known in its present form) and a jew's harp (I love them things). If you want to fake it with a guitar-lute, German ones show up on eBay a lot, and aren't so expensive (it depends on the timing, if you need it before you could get an eBay prize from overseas).

Then again, you could look for a hurdy-gurdy or a krumhorn. They may not be the proper era, but they're unusual enough that people will give you the benefit of the doubt just for oddity.

Good luck.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: CupOfTea
Date: 24 May 08 - 09:41 AM

The first thing that comes to mind here: were you hired to serenade the visitors?

Rennfairs vary considerably in what they encourage/discourage and how "in period" they expect anything about the place to be. Unless you've specific information otherwise, don't be surprised if the fair management doesn't encourage free lance musicians, particularly ones who just acquired their instruments. Most tend to have scheduled (paid) musical performers & even those who appear as "buskers" are staff people with a schedule.

If you know how to play a recorder, that's an easy thing to carry with you, not as likely to get damaged, and easy enough to hang a small sack from your belt. If this is your first fair, just leave the musical toys at home and go have fun.

HOWEVER - if you want an early music instrument with strings, you've got a good electronic tuner, and money to spend... I HIGHLY endorse the bowed psaltry. Once tuned, it's dead easy to play. I shun the insults of "a fiddle for autoharp players" (I'm quite decent on autoharp, thankewverymuch) I've seen embroidered & woven pieces dated to the 1600s that show instruments like a bowed psaltry being played. It is an instrument folks either love or hate, & tends to carry over a distance. I've seen psaltries (and harps and other instruments) of various qualities on sale AT the fairs.

I have to surpress a desire to guffaw roundly at the idea of "in period" for some of the fairs I've attended the "period" in question would have to be "fantasy novels published in the last 100 years." At the "Medieval fest" closest to me, some SCA friends and I have snorked at "turkey leggs" and tacos at the food stand, fairy wings tied on the back of large ladies and grumpy rottweilers, numerous guitars & "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. At a (mostly) more historically accurate one downstate we were enchanted, in a most unperiod fashion, by a man who played glass'armonica of different sized glasses filled with water, and we waltzed to "Ashokan Farewell."

Just go have fun,eh?


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:28 PM

I've seen embroidered & woven pieces dated to the 1600s that show instruments like a bowed psaltry being played

Hardly likely. See HERE, although I'm personally inclined to think 1890 is a little early. I heard the Bowed Psaltery was actually invented from earlier 20th century bowed zither types (see HERE) by one of the Dransfieds in the sixties. Contrary to what WIKI says, bar the bow, it has no link to either the crwth or the vielle.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:48 PM

The king of the instruments during the Renaissance, of course, was the lute. But acquiring one of these would take a bit of time and would undoubtedly be quite pricy. Also, they are just a touch on the fragile side, so they won't take much knocking about.

This instrument, the psaltery (NOT a bowed psaltery, which is a recently invented instrument), is ancient. They were falling into disuse around the Renaissance, but there were undoubtedly a lot of them around. No one could questions its authenticity.

A harp would be quite safe in terms of authenticity.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 May 08 - 03:07 PM

My apologies. The "psaltery" link doesn't seem to work, so here it is again. Try THIS.

By the way, note that there are sound samples on all these insruments.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 08 - 05:28 PM

Get an octave Mandolin the average Joe Public would n't know the difference from a lute and it would probably be easier and cheaper anyway, it depends on how authentic you can afford to be for one gig

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 24 May 08 - 05:32 PM

Sorry the last post was me my biscuit had crumbled

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 24 May 08 - 05:41 PM

Psalteries (the plucked kind) and harps get my vote. They're authentic, they're portable, you can sing to them or just play melodies, and you don't have to be an advanced player to bring out nice sounds on them. They have naturally pretty voices which go fine with simple music and beginner's abilities. They're fairly hardy in the outdoors too.

Barefoot guest, if you want to bring an instrument and sing, you should bring and instrument and sing. You sound like the sort of person ren fairs need more of. (Still wish you'd put on some shoes though.) I hope you'll come back and tell us what you did there, what instrument you chose, if you liked playing it and if you're going to keep on with it. Good luck to you.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: CupOfTea
Date: 24 May 08 - 08:06 PM

Sedayne, (side tangent on the origins of bowed psaltry)

I did say "like" a bowed psaltry - my enthsiasm in endorsing it was mostly for the fun and ease of playing. It's going to itch at me now something fierce in trying to get a look at what I was thinking of, because they're in the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has been closed for reconstruction for a couple years. It won't have all the galleries open for years yet. When that time comes, I promise to go find out WHAT it was I saw. So.. my currently undocumentable memory is of something bowed, but triangular, and thinking "oh! that's an angel playing a bowed psaltry, cool!"

My bows and I bow to yer superior knowledge here: the bowed psaltry is not Medieval or Renaissance in origin. As invention in the last couple hundred years looks a solid bet, and it being specificly invented rather than evolved absolutely the case. I have some reservations about bits in the Wikipedia link that are a bit...off from what I know about playing it for about 23 years. (but then I never trust Wiki as an ultimate reference for ANYthing)

I will testify & have witnesses that both of my bowed psaltries date to the 1980s, and I've had strangers playing a recognizable tune in under ten minutes on them. I've seen bowed psaltries for sale at each rennfaire I've attended. I've also got a Marx company "Violin Uke" (date unknown) that is frustratingly unplayable as it takes about 15 minutes to tune and stays in tune for about...15 minutes. Looks exotic over the fireplace, though.

Now, there's a wild group called "Those Darn Accordians" that numbered about ten. I remember Gerry O'Beirne talking about a punk band in NY called "Uke till you puke" that featured multiple Ukeleles. What would happen with a massed bowed psaltry band, I wonder...?

Cheers!
Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Little Robyn
Date: 24 May 08 - 10:15 PM

How about a lyre? We have lots of them at work, played regularly by staff and residents.
Find yourself a Steiner school and they should have them.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 May 08 - 10:37 PM

The scene, a Renaissance Faire. Two fellows dressed as monks are running a fish-and-chips stand. Some folks are giving them a little grief about whether or not fish-and-chips would be authentic provender during the period represented, but a ruling hadn't come down from on high yet, so they proceeded with business.

A fellow dressed as a jester thought he would have a bit of fun with them, so he asked the one at the counter, "I presume you are the fish friar?"

To which the reply came, "No, fool! I'm the chip monk!"

(Well, someone had to do it.)

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 25 May 08 - 01:08 AM

That's great, Don!

RenFaire newbie: Just take a guitar, and say it's a vihuela. Or take a tenor ukulele, and say it's a renaissance guitar (which it is).


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 May 08 - 04:10 AM

Take a trombone and say it's a sackbut...

What exactly is a Ren Fair anyway? My only experience of them is via You Tube during last year's thread on The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance which yielded the following piece of risible idiocy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKN0j4b9oU0

In their defence someone from Pipe & Bowl wrote: We were taught this back in the early 70s by a guy named Richard Chase who got it from Cecil Sharp. It, as you can tell, has been modified to fit within our show time frame. To which I added the comment: Yes, early 21st century USA, exact in every last authentic detail! but the silly sods deleted it.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 May 08 - 04:22 AM

I see you've written some friends and I are going as beggar monks. If any of the others have musical experience, and you are going to use a stringed instrument, it would sound just beautiful if one of them played a gemshorn with you. (I have a gorgeous authentic-reproduction medieval harp and have a weakness for the voice of the gemshorn in combination with it - one of the loveliest sounds on earth. In period too.)

They are wind instruments, made from (? I think) cow's or ram's horns, and are rather recorder-like but mellower in tone. They're also pretty simple to play, and do have a fairly limited range. Anyone with any musical knowledge could pick it up, even if they don't have fantastic technique. It's another of those early instruments which you can sound good on without having to be Phil Pickett.

Thanks to Don Firth for that great website (ditto the great joke - LOL!) which I have now gone back to and retrieved the gemshorn link. Be sure to play the sound clips, which will tell you what they sound like. If you click on their main "Musica Antiqua Instruments" link it will take you to a whole page of early instruments to look at & listen to:

http://www.music.iastate.edu/antiqua/gemshorn.htm


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 May 08 - 04:29 AM

They're made from ox horn. As it says right there in big letters on the web page. D'OH!!


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 May 08 - 06:27 AM

Gemshorns are made of goat or ibex horn. There was a similar instrument made of cow horn, but it was called a "cow horn".

Pottery ocarinas aren't as sensitive to humidity - if anything they improve in stability when they get damp, whereas a horn instrument will often only stay playable for a few minutes of continuous use.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 May 08 - 07:31 AM

The ocarina sounds as though it would have been ideal for mendicant monks, but the type we're familiar with today seems not to have existed centuries ago. Wiki says that it's an "ancient flute-like wind instrument" but I'm not sure what the "ancient" ones were like and haven't had time to research it (supposed to be doing boring Work instead of fun Mudcat, and the work is losing out...)

If there were European medieval ocarinas, what would they have looked like and been called? Is there an "authentic" early ocarina-type-instrument (i.e reproduction) you can get? Clay ones seem to have been around throughout civilisation.

Jack's webpage is an absolute gold mine: http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Ocarina/ though I couldn't get the Songbird page-link to work.

The Wiki article seems pretty informative, there's some nice stuff on YouTube, and this website's kind of fun: http://www.ocarina.co.uk/

They certainly have a lovely tone. I had always (rather snobbily, I suppose) underestimated them. Too many years of seeing them hanging, brightly coloured, on leather thongs in crafts stalls at fairs & festivals, which made me think of them more as ornaments or toys than real musical instruments. I stand corrected, and would like to know more about viable "early" ones (by any name).

(I'd also like to see the "dog turds decorated with cake icing" cheap-o's that Jack described, but alas, does not show us :-)


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 May 08 - 07:52 AM

Just tried Googling "medieval ocarina" which didn't tell me anything I hadn't already guessed, but this website (in Russian, Polish, Belarusan or English) is fun:

http://staryolsa.com/eng/instrumenty.shtml#14


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 May 08 - 08:08 AM

I doubt if there was a pottery ocarina in mediaeval Europe. Horn is easier to work than clay, there was no shortage of horn, and mediaeval European ceramic technology wasn't up to much.   But you can't tell an ocarina and a gemshorn apart by sound, so in situations where nobody's looking they're interchangeable (like a shawm and a saxophone).


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 08 - 08:51 AM

Re: Bare Feet.

Having had some relevant experience, I can say that many of those YS Ren faire Sites have horses - if not actually present at the event, then the paddocks graze them during the off seasons.

Unless you have it in writing from the orhanisers on offical letterhead, then you will most likely somply be refused entry, or even expelled, should you try walking around in bare feet, no matter what "SCA-style BS story" you try on them.

Horses === Tetanus... Public Liability Insurance Clauses...

Rather silly of you planning to NOT take any reasonable footwear, and waste your entry money.

Also I survived the SCA "Bare Feet are not Period" madness... :-)


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 08 - 08:58 AM

Oh, BTW,

"English" Renn (Elizabethan, actually!!!) is a lot later than the various "European" Renn periods...


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,Folestroupe
Date: 25 May 08 - 09:01 AM

Oh Dear - Mudcat ate my cookie...


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 May 08 - 09:06 AM

Bugger...

:-)


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,Angharat
Date: 04 Jan 13 - 04:22 PM

I don't see that anyone mentioned recorders here, which is odd since:
a) they are period to the renaissance
b) they are easy to learn
c) In the U.S., most school children learn to play one in elementary school, so many already have experience on them.
cheap wooden recorders can be bought at craft stores (like Jo-anns) for a period look - these are modern recorders based on the baroque instrument, not the earlier ren style, but get the job done for cheap if you don't want to invest in an expensive reproduction.

also, Music Makers (http://www.harpkit.com/) sells all kinds of reproduction instruments from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including plucked psalteries, lutes, etc., and some hybrids catering to re-enacters that are basically guitars in the shape of a lute. I highly recommend them, my psaltery was purchased there and they have GREAT customer service.

I know this post is several years old and the OP is long past caring, but in case others in the future are looking... =)


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jan 13 - 05:33 PM

Recorders were mentioned earlier.

Nobody makes a cheap one that looks 1500ish. I have a Cranmore reproduction of the Dordrecht recorder from about 1400; he and others make reproductions of the Tartu recorder from the same period. Neither of those would have been played by a monk.

Maybe a handbell?


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jan 13 - 09:39 PM

Pipe and tabor would seem most obvious. And cheap enough to buy, in England anyway.

But a mendicant monk in Queen Elizabeth's time? About as risky as singing Gospel music in Taliban country.


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Subject: RE: Medieval instrument question
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 04 Jan 13 - 10:40 PM

It is four years after, and I wonder how he fared?(sorry, I couldn't help it) Long ago, we performed for a season at the PA Ren-Faire, performers were paid(not much), and hence screened carefully. You couldn't perform there just because you wanted to. I'd be surprised to know that that had changed.


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