What did they call them then?

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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Lizards » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:47 pm

Hi Euan,
Might the Kentwellies be converted to the 1506 "Cymphan" Geoff produced from the Palmer book?
I think I'll be adopting it.
Best wishes,
Richard. (Sometime Diccen Reed the Low Player, but haven't had opportunity to be there for years, sadly!)
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:22 am

Euan,

You seem to have missed the fact that I came up with several authentic Tudor names for the instrument, even if some of them are Scottish. To suggest that an instrument does not have a name because it was not very important, is to suggest that anyone below a certain status can only communicate in grunts, and could not possibly name something for themselves, let alone use a name that had been developing for hundreds of years!

You say that your research came up with nothing. I looked in a book, and did a couple of searches on the internet, I can only suggest that you did not look terribly hard.

As to not wanting to call it a hurdy-gurdy, whether or not you like this name, it is the one that has stuck, and the public at least recognise the term, even if they have never seen one. During any re-enactment I take part in, I explain what the instrument is and what it has been called in the past.

I realise that this does not fit in with the 'pseudo-tudor-speak' that the Kentwellians pride themselves on, but I think that re-enactment should be about educating the public, and explanation is much more important than just the look and sound of the times.

Apologies if this sounds a bit of a rant, it's not meant to be, but I did go to Kentwell a few years back, and can only say that the authenticity at that point left something to be desired, along with the participants desire to completely ignore the paying public. Hope things have changed :-).

Regards
Geoff
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:14 am

Well, I finally received my book from Abebooks.

"Of Musike: Mundain, Humayn, and Instrumental by Stephen Hawes 1506."

The following verses are probably the most important from our point of view.

And so to a chambre full solacyous
Dame Musyke wente wyth La Bell Pucell;
All of Jasper, wyth stones precyous,
The rofe was wrought, curyously and well;
The wyndowes glased marvaylously to tell.
With cloth of tyssue in the rychest maner
The walles were hanged hye and cyrculer.

There sat Dame Musyke, with all her mynstrasy;
As tabours, trumpettes, with pipes melodious,
Sakbuttes, organs, and the recorder swetely,
Harpes, lutes, and crouddes ryght delycyous;
Cymphans, doussemers, wyth claricimbales glorious.
Rebeckes, clarycordes, eche in theyr degre,
Dyd sytte aboute theyr ladyes mageste.

The following instruments may need a bit of explanation. The Croude probably relates to the Crwth, a form of bowed lyre. Cymphan is our hurdy-gurdy. The Doussemer is the hammered dulcimer, the appalachian or epinette coming later. The rebecke is an early form of fiddle, usually with 3 strings. The Claricimbale and Clarycorde are more difficult to pin down. These most probably relate to the hapsichord or virginals. An early reference to the clarycorde from an inventory states "Thirty knots of red clarycorde wire" so it was almost certainly a stringed keyboard instrument.

The reason for including the verse previous to the list of instruments is to demonstrate that these instruments are to be found in a supmtuous setting. They are not the instruments of beggars (although could be as well).

Stephen Hawes was Groom of the Privy Chamber to Henry VII, and although he wrote other poetry, this is counted his chief work. These are the instruments that such an important man would expect to find in such a setting.

So, far from having no name because it wasn't very important at court (as written by a previous correspondent), the Cymphan, which can be seen in many manuscripts and stone carvings being played by angels throughout the medieval period, was important enough to find itself amongst the list of the minstrels instruments in Dame Musyke's "full solaycyous chambre". Although this was written in 1506, the work was reprinted in 1555 with the same spelling, and so it seems his audience would have still known what "Cymphan" refers to.

I would be really interested if anyone has any reason to doubt any of this, or could provide further references, but I think that our hurdy-gurdy was certainly a court instrument during the Tudor period.

Regards
Geoff
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Lizards » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:00 pm

This is fascinating stuff, Geoff, and very relevant to my own interests!

I've been lucky enough to find a copy of the Palmer book on Abebooks at only £50 inc postage, so am looking forward to reading that when it comes too.

So hurdy gurdies may have been played by, or perhaps for, the gentry - now that's good news!
I wonder, is it possible "Clarycord" may be a misreading/variant of clavichord? I'm not a great scholar of this, but from what I know, I quite agree about the others being harpsichord types.

Of the others, sackbuts and trumpets seem to me the instruments of professional musicians, played for rather than by the posh lot.
As for the others - when medieval illustrations allegorise music they tend to have everything in sight from psaltery to harp to shawm and trumpet, often in the same array of angelic players. It's not thought likely that they'd have actually played this lot at the same time, but there they are. I wonder if this is a similar assembly? Again, you don't generally find harp and trumpet in the same setting in the 16thC.
I'm not trying to cast doubt on your smashing idea here, just chewing it over.

...And what's "Solacyous"? Like a Solar, or salacious? :)

I would love to see an image of the time showing a gurdy played by anyone of high status, or in a high status setting, rather than street beggars, or allegories of low life & morals.

I wait to read what follows here with great interest.

It may amuse you to know that I also asked the Northumbrian Smallpipes list about the tunes Old Sarah played... I know it's way OT on that group but there are some superb tune historians, and now they're happily discussing hurdy gurdies!

Best wishes,
Richard.
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Euan » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:24 am

Geoff
I have removed my post because it is not my intention to be a target on any forum least of all this one.
Perhaps if you had read what my post actually said you would have been less venomous.
Makes me a bit more wary of posting again....thanks.
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:45 pm

Euan,

Apologies if you took my post as venomous, it wasn't meant to be, and it is not something that I have ever been accused of before.

Unfortunately as you have now removed your post, I cannot refer back to what I was taking issue with, but I believe that you suggested that hurdy-gurdies didn't have a name as they weren't very important.

I am glad that you read my answering post as you obviously didn't read my previous one, where I gave it's 16th century name.

Regards
Geoff
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