minstrel: Period music and dulcimer

Greg Lindahl lindahl at pbm.com
Sat Apr 15 22:14:14 PDT 2000

> 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."

Maybe they were answering for what they personally consider period --
and they don't do things after 1600. That's fine with me; I don't
agree with them, but they are welcome to their opinion. It probably
would be a good idea for them to have stated it better, but it's also
good to give people the benefit of the doubt.

As for your question, there are plenty of rounds from nearer 1600, and
no, there wasn't much printed English bawdy music before 1600, and so
it could be the case that that they tended to be more subtle. 80 years
is a long time and the English Civil War brought a lot of social
change. But this is an absense of evidence argument, not evidence of

For near-period bawdy rounds, see Ravenscroft, especially "Go ye not to
Branford" (punk == prostitute, the OED doesn't have that one, but
Shakespeare does) and "I lay with an old man". For a bawdy ballad, see
Watkins Ale. All 3 are on my web pages.

But I can't answer your question about whether they are "period
enough". Maybe next time you'll phrase it more carefully; I will give
you the benefit of the doubt that you had good intentions.

> Back to the topic, a hammered dulcimer is period enough for anyone.

Wow, now that's a generalization if I ever heard one. How do you have
any idea what other people's standards are? Don't they have a right to
their own opinions?

> 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.

I disagree about chromatic notes. There were many instruments without
chromatic notes in 1521. For example, one common instrument used for
dance music is the pipe and tabor, which has one key.

> You can also call it a Hackbrett if you want, since
> Dulcimer may notnbe period.

Check your OED. Off the top of my head, the word "dulcimer" appears in
the King James Bible (in a list of instruments in the Old Testament
somewhere) and the mainfest for the 1st Jamestown expedition includes
a "dulcimer".

> (It also sounds too much like Dulcian, a wind instrument like a
> bassoon.)

They have the same root. Why is that unusual?

> so you might want to tune the strings really good,
> then knock one or two out a tiny bit to be truly period.

That's kind of bizarre. Why do you assume that a CD recording
represents the truth? By the way, it's trivial to tune a dulcimer
using no tools to a variety of temperments, and getting multiple
courses in tune with eacdh other is also trivial.

> But you
> can tell those period nazis to shove it if they get on to you about your
> Hackbrett.

And what about people who are mad at you for using "nazi" for
something as trivial as rudeness? I know it's common, but that doesn't
make it right.

Maybe we could declare the minstrel mailing list a place free from
complaints about nazis, since everyone complaining about them seems to
assure everyone else that the nazis aren't actually here...

-- Gregory Blount

To unsubscribe from this list, send email to majordomo at pbm.com containing
the words "unsubscribe minstrel". If you are subscribed to the digest version,
say "unsubscribe minstrel-digest". To contact a human about problems, send
mail to owner-minstrel at pbm.com

More information about the minstrel mailing list