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Identifying popular musical instruments in the iconography and archaeology in the Medieval and Renaissance period in Europe

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Using iconography as evidence for societal practice faces a common problem across the world, that pictorial art of typically created by social or religious elites, and so typically reflects their taste and practices. As with other categories of
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    Identifying popular musical instruments in the iconography and archaeology in the Medieval and Renaissance period in Europe Prepared for the conference The Art of the Poor in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance The Warburg Institute, 14-15 June 2018 Circulation draft for comment Roger Blench McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research University of Cambridge Department of History, University of Jos Kay Williamson Educational Foundation 8, Guest Road Cambridge CB1 2AL United Kingdom Voice/ Ans (00-44)-(0)7847-495590 Mobile worldwide (00-44)-(0)7967-696804 E-mail rogerblench@yahoo.co.uk http://www.rogerblench.info/RBOP.htm  TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction.....................................................................................................................................................1   2. Sources of information...............................................................................................................................1   2.1 Iconography.............................................................................................................................................1   2.1.1 Stone- and wood-carving.................................................................................................................1   2.1.2 Painting............................................................................................................................................2   2.2 Archaeology and surviving instruments..................................................................................................3   2.3 Texts........................................................................................................................................................5   2.4 Inferences from folk practice..................................................................................................................6   3. Individual instruments...............................................................................................................................6   4. Other aspects of musical practice..............................................................................................................8   4.1 General....................................................................................................................................................8   4.2 Dance-songs: the evidence of the Llibre Vermell de Montsarrat...........................................................8   4.3 Folk polyphony.......................................................................................................................................9   5. Directions for future research...................................................................................................................9   References........................................................................................................................................................9   TABLES Table 1. Popular instruments and their first appearance...................................................................................6   Table 2. Southern European traditions of vocal polyphony.............................................................................9   PHOTOS Photo 1. Viol, Palazzo Ducale, Venice.............................................................................................................1   Photo 2. Animal musicians in Canterbury cathedral undercroft.......................................................................1   Photo 3. Musicians, Norwich Cathedral roof boss...........................................................................................2   Photo 4. Jews' harp, Albertus Pictor.................................................................................................................2   Photo 5. Pipe and tabor, Albertus Pictor...........................................................................................................2   Photo 6. Musicians, Norwich Cathedral roof boss...........................................................................................3   Photo 7. Viol, Albertus Pictor...........................................................................................................................3   Photo 8. Death playing bagpipe, Nikolaikirche, Tallinn..................................................................................3   Photo 9. Medieval Swedish Jews' harps...........................................................................................................3   Photo 10. Medieval Swedish terracotta ocarina................................................................................................4   Photo 11. Medieval Swedish bone flute...........................................................................................................4   Photo 12. Thuringian thirteenth century cornetto.............................................................................................4   Photo 13. The Brian Boru harp.........................................................................................................................5   Photo 14. Popular instruments in Syntagma Musicum.....................................................................................5   Photo 15. The Sicilian launeddas .....................................................................................................................6   Photo 16. The song  Mariam matrem virginem .................................................................................................9    ABSTRACT Using iconography as evidence for societal practice faces a common problem across the world, that pictorial art of typically created by social or religious elites, and so typically reflects their taste and practices. As with other categories of representation, musical instruments played by the elite, both secular and religious, are over-represented in the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Only with Praetorius’ Syntagma Musicum (  De Organographia  1618) do we get an overview of instruments at all levels of society (and the first acknowledgment of the music of other cultures). Nonetheless, insights into popular instruments can be gained from unexpected or marginal representations. For example, in a more egalitarian society such as Sweden, the paintings of Albertus Pictor (1440-1507) show a wide range of popular instruments. Archaeology has begun to make an important contribution; a recent survey of finds of Jews’ harps in Medieval Europe suggests it may have been the single most popular instrument of the period, despite being hardly depicted in painting. Another source is surviving folk traditions; instruments such as the shawm remain widely played in folk contexts, despite having disappeared from the classical repertoire. The paper aims to establish a popular instrumentarium for Europe, through an assessment of the available sources, and to suggest directions for future research. Keywords; musical instruments; Medieval; Renaissance; elite; poor  Elite and popular instruments in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Circulation draft Roger Blench 1 Introduction Using iconography as evidence for societal practice faces a common problem across the world, that pictorial art of typically created by social or religious elites, and so typically reflects their taste and practices. As with other categories of representation, musical instruments played by the elite, both secular and religious, are over-represented in the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Only with Praetorius’ Syntagma Musicum (  De Organographia  1618) do we get an overview of instruments at all levels of society (and the first acknowledgment of the music of other cultures). Nonetheless, insights into popular instruments can be gained from unexpected or marginal representations. For example, in a more egalitarian society such as Sweden, the church  paintings of Albertus Pictor (1440-1507) show a wide range of popular instruments. Archaeology has  begun to make an important contribution; a survey of finds of Jews’ harps in Medieval Europe suggests it may have been the single most popular instrument of the period, despite being hardly depicted in  painting. Text references are very limited, but the remarkable Yconomica  of Konrad of Megenburg specifically links poverty to musical practice. Another source is surviving folk traditions; instruments such as the shawm remain widely  played in folk contexts, despite having disappeared from the classical repertoire. The paper aims to establish a popular instrumentarium for Europe, through an assessment of the available sources, and to suggest directions for future research. 2. Sources of information 2.1 Iconography 2.1.1 Stone- and wood-carving Since at least the tenth century, religious buildings have  been the focus of highly personal stonecarving. Buildings older than this seem to be more constrained, with only religious imagery permitted. Why this should  be is unclear, but when local carvers were let loose on  both exteriors and interior capitals, this seems to have  been a zone of tolerance, both for representing popular practice and images from a suppressed folk imagery deriving from spiritual concepts older than the official church. The undercroft of Canterbury cathedral (1070 AD onwards) has capitals with a variety of animals playing musical instruments which are notably absent in more prominent locations (Photo 2).  Nonetheless, there are significant variations in the representation of musical practice in different places. For example, the rich repertoire of capitals in the cloister at Monreale (ca. 1200 AD) includes both scenes of daily life and images from pre-Christian mythology, but not a single musical instrument. By contrast, the exterior of the Palazzo Ducale, Venice, which is characterised by images from different trades, as well as food processing, has numerous musical instruments, some played by angels, others by comically dressed characters, probably jester-musicians (Photo 1). The ground floor arcade capitals are 14 th  and 15 th  century, although some were replaced with 19th century copies. Photo 1. Viol, Palazzo Ducale, Venice Source: Author photo Photo 2. Animal musicians in Canterbury cathedral undercroft Source: Author photo  Elite and popular instruments in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Circulation draft Roger Blench 2 The well-preserved wooden bosses of Norwich Cathedral, created across the 14 th  century, include numerous scenes of ordinary life, and several of folk musicians. Photo 6 shows a 14th century boss in the east walk of the cloister representing a shawm and a frame-drum. The costumes are clearly intended to indicate these are popular entertainers. Photo 3 shows a 14th century boss in the south walk of the cloister illustrating a rebec and a long trumpet. The status of these  performers is less clear, since the robes they wear may indicate clerical roles. 2.1.2 Painting Medieval wall paintings are far more rarely preserved than carvings for obvious reasons. Religious change and iconoclasm has encouraged destruction, particularly in England, and paintings are often the victim of climate, fire and water-damage. By far the richest heritage of such  paintings is preserved in Scandinavia, especially Sweden. The painted churches of Uppland remain in remarkable condition, made all the more surprising in the light of the contrast with their austere exteriors. One painter in  particular, Albertus Pictor (c. 1440 – c. 1507), was responsible (perhaps with apprentices) for nearly all the  paintings which show scenes of daily life. Albertus Pictor inspired the film director Ingmar Bergman and he makes an appearance in the film, The Seventh Seal   (1957). The famous scene of the knight playing chess with death is drawn directly from an Albertus Pictor  painting in Täby kyrka. The scenes of village life are mixed with more conventional religious representations in a quite unusual fashion, and can be contrasted with the equally well-preserved paintings in Sigtuna, where no idiosyncratic representations occur anywhere in the church. Albertus Pictor makes it Photo 3. Musicians, Norwich Cathedral roof boss Source: Creative Commons Photo 4. Jews' harp, Albertus Pictor Source: Author photo, Herkaberga Church Photo 5. Pipe and tabor, Albertus Pictor Source: Author photo, Herkaberga Church

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