minstrel: instruments

Corrie Bergeron corrie at solutions.solon.com
Wed Sep 17 14:24:14 PDT 1997

Comments embedded:

At 07:56 PM 9/16/97 -0400, Greg Lindahl wrote:
>> Some folks always seem to object to a guitar, but the modern steel-string
>> guitar is not too very different from the cittern or the guitarra [chitara]
>> batarda.
>This thread was about "what would you do", not "what do you object
>to". If we keep it on those terms, we'll be a lot more civil. This
>suggestion sounds like a fine idea, although I don't know how a
>cittern was generally played, i.e. strummed verses lute-like playing.
>There were a few books of cittern music published in England right
>near 1600.

So who's being uncivil?  I was merely warning the original poster that if he
chose to play a guitar, that some purists would drop on him like a ton of
bricks for being "unperiod."  Having had that happen to me, I was giving him
a bit of pertinent information with which to defend himself from these
uncivil folk (none of whom of course are subscribers to this genteel list).
FWIW, most early-to-middle period illustrations of necked, unbowed string
instruments that I have seen show the player using a plectrum (pick).  Hard
to tell from a picture if they're strumming, picking arpeggios, or playing
the melody, of course.  

I could be wrong, but I think chorded accompaniment (as opposed to continuo
or drones) is fairly modern, so the whole folkie style could be considered
(if not conclusively proven) modern.  

>>  It's probably more authentic to lead a singalong with a
>> steel-string guitar (calling it a chitarra) than with a nylon-string
>> "classical" guitar, which is not a lute, doesn't sound like a lute (lutes
>> are much quieter, and the doubled strings give a different sound), and was
>> developed into its modern form well past period.  
>I think nylon-strung classical guitars sound much like lutes,
>personally, after having heard the two side by side. I agree that the
>technique is quite different from what most folk guitar players know
>already, but I love hearing lutes so much I recommend it highly.

We differ in opinion.  Having played both, I think there's a significant
difference in the sound.  I can usually discriminate between them in a
recording.  But then, those are my ears.  I certainly wouldn't get offended
if someone played a lute song on a classical guitar.  Just don't claim that
the nylon guitar is a more period instrument.

The bottom line is, IMHO, that if the only instrument you know is the modern
guitar, don't let that stop you from playing in an SCA context.  If you are
inclined to invest in learning the lute or viol or portative pipe organ,
more power to you!  But no one should be pilloried for dragging the old
Harmony out beside the campfire.  
Corrie Bergeron			TRO Learning, Inc.
Senior Courseware Designer	http://www.tro.com 
corrie at tro.com			http://www.solon.com/~corrie 

IICS-MN Membership Chair	http:/www.iics-mn.org

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