Savoyards

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Savoyards

Postby Geoff Turner » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:35 pm

As we don't have a history section (Scott?), I'll post this in the main forum.

From "The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England including the Rural and Domestic Recreations, May Games, Mummeries, Shows, Processions, Pageants, and Pompous Spectacles from the Earliest Period to the Present Time", by Joseph Strutt, who certainly knew how to entitle a volume, published in a new edition of 1834 (the original edition was 1801, and as he died in 1802, the new edition seems to have just had an enhanced index).

In a chapter called "The Norman Minstrels".

"...; the jugleours, who in the middle ages were famous for playing upon the vielle, accompanied the songs of the trouvers. The vielle was a stringed instrument, sounded by the turning of a wheel within it, resembling that which we frequently see about the streets played by the Savoyards, vulgarly called a hurdy-gurdy. These jugleours were also assisted by the chanteurs: and this unison of talents rendered the compositions more harmonious and more pleasing to the auditory, and increased their rewards, so they readily joined each other, and travelled together in large parties. (1).

(1) Fauchet, Origine de la Langue et Poesie Francoise, 1581, liv. i. chap. viii. fol. 72.


This is interesting from a couple of points. I am not sure how much of the 1581 text that he is using, but even if you discount the use of the hurdy-gurdy by Norman minstrels, or ascribe the vielle to a different instrument altogether, what he says about his own period is interesting.

It is quite an early reference to the Savoyards, and he also states that it is 'vulgarly' called the hurdy-gurdy, suggesting a rather base and distasteful origin of the term, and that it is also commonly called something else, otehrwise he would almost certainly just say that it was a hurdy-gurdy.

I would be interested to hear if anyone has any further observations on this, while I go and tear my hair out trying to find an obscure sixteenth century french book....

Geoff
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Re: Savoyards

Postby Geoff Turner » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:39 pm

I have found another edition of the same work and the text quoted is the same, suggesting that it was part of the original 1801 edition. However, this one has a very interesting reference that I have not seen before:

"A reward of 6s. 8d. was given to a rototir or player on a rotour on St Cuthbert's Day 1395, at Durham. It is described as "a sort of fiddle"; it was probably the same as the vielle described in the next paragraph. Durham Account Rolls, iii. 599, 955."

If this is an early name for a hurdy-gurdy, it is not one that I have encountered before but with a name that sound like 'rotate' and being 'a sort of fiddle', this makles it interesting indeed.

Another reference to chase...

Geoff
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Re: Savoyards

Postby Geoff Turner » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:23 pm

Isn't the internet wonderful. I have found the French text, but I am not convinced by the argument that he is talking about hurdy-gurdies, as later in the work when referring to 'vielles', he states:

"La figure d'un jougleor tenat ceste forme de vielle ou violle se voit en bosse au costé dextre du portail de l'Eglise de S.Julian des Menestriers, assis à Paris, en la rue S.Martin, representat un instrument communément appelé Rebec."

I translate that as (although my French is notoriously dodgy, any help would be appreciated):

"The figure of a jougleor holding a form of vielle or violle is seen on a boss on the right side of the doorway of the Church of St. Julian of Minstrels in Paris, in the Rue S. Martin, representing an instrument commonly known as a Rebec."
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Re: Savoyards

Postby Geoff Turner » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:31 pm

Believe it or not I found the other one on the internet as well, although may well be barking up the wrong tree on this one too.

The text states:

"Dana et ex, Pr, (Ministrall. in f. S. Cuthb., Henrici Percy, d'ni Ducis Lancastr., d'ni de Neuill, Ducis Ebor., de Scocia, comitis Cancie, ad Nat. D'ni, de Hilton, Ric. Brome ministrallo, in f. S. Cuthb. in Marc). Uni Trompet d'ni Regis, dr. 8rf. Uni Rotour de Scocia, ^. Sd, Joh'i Wessyngton pro eodem (celebrante primam missam), 6s. 8d. "

The notes from a 1901 edition state "Rotour, a player on the rote, a sort of fiddle or "crowd." The word rote is connected with Welsh crwth, a fiddle, Gael, cruti, a harp.

That leaves us with an interesting early reference to Savoyards playing 'hurdy-gurdy'.

Isn't historical research so often like that......

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Re: Savoyards

Postby Lizards » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:40 pm

And doesn't it just reinforce the apparent habit they had of referring to their stringed instruments by a rather confusing and overlapping series of names, which may or may not include the Gurdy!
It's the same with pipers - there are many arguments about whether a "piper" can safely mean a bagpiper or not. It might... but without the ref. to "bag" one can't be sure. And apparently a taborer (spelt in whichever way) often meant a pipe-and-tabor player.
Would time travel be a simpler solution... and probably more likely too? :)

Have you got John Southcott's book on medieval minstrels?

Best wishes,
Richard.
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