minstrel: Period music and dulcimer

Christopher Gregory krummhorn at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 15 13:01:41 PDT 2000


Ahh, we all hate period nazis, even us who are authentically-oriented.  But
they proliferate, and make everyone unhappy when they condescendingly say,
"That's not period."  They don't even help us be more period.  I recently
asked someone if Purcell's rounds from "The Art of the Bawdy Song" would be
period enough.  And they said, "Purcell is 1680's.  Period ends 1600.  You
do the math."  And they walked off. They didn't suggest any "period" (which
is much softer in music than anything else) sources for bawdy rounds (my
specialty) or even redirect my attentions to period ballads or madrigals.  I
ended up being more frustrated than anything else.
Back to the topic, a hammered dulcimer is period enough for anyone.  One is
pictured in Praetorius' Syntagma Musicum (cite this if anyone has fits) and
it was probably tuned with chromatic notes, since polyphony was much
developed by 1521.  You can also call it a Hackbrett if you want, since
Dulcimer may not be period.  (It also sounds too much like Dulcian, a wind
instrument like a bassoon.)  I have a recording of a Hackbrett used to play
dance tunes from Praetorius' Terpsichore.  It sounded a little less in tune
(like a honkey tonk piano rather than a baby grand), and seemed to 'ring'
less than the modern one, so you might want to tune the strings really good,
then knock one or two out a tiny bit to be truly period.  But that's too
anal even for me, and makes some people cringe.  That's up to you.  But you
can tell those period nazis to shove it if they get on to you about your
Hackbrett.
Have fun, as always, and "Give 'em Hell!"

Richard Crowder of Burnham


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