Medieval Instrumental Music

Citole by Florian Jougneau, Strasbourg Photo: Florian Jougneau

13/14 June 2020

What sounds Medieval to us? Would people from 800 years back recognize this as their music?

There is a wonderful wealth of sculpture and illuminated manuscripts that provides us with information about musical instruments from the Middle Ages. Combined with what we gather from the theorists and from extremely rare archeological finds we might be able to reconstruct these instruments in a plausible way and tune them up.

But what about the repertoire? There are about four dozen pieces of instrumental music from the period before 1300. Estampies, Saltarellos, dances, mostly very active lively pieces - virtuosic music, usually improvised and rarely recorded on a piece of paper. Nothing close to the kind of 'Medieval sound clouds' we hear in historical or fantasy movies or at Medieval fairs.

The weekend shall bring us back to the sources and well try to develop patterns that are based strictly on evidence. How to improvise a second voice? What about drones? Are they not included in the tuning of many string instruments already?

A good read to get started: Christopher Page: Voices & Instruments of the Middle Ages // Timothy J. McGee: Medieval Instrumental Dances

Players of Mediaval string instruments and flutes or recorders are welcome.

 

Berlin