minstrel: new topic/psaltry

hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu
Thu Apr 20 09:51:42 PDT 2000

On Thu, 20 Apr 2000, Debra Grove wrote:
> From: Greg Lindahl <lindahl at pbm.com>, on 4/19/00 5:26 PM:
> >A while back someone cited a single painting as "documentation" of the
> >bowed psaltry. Some folks looked at it and said they thought it was
> >just a bad painting of a different kind of instrument. As you know,
> >it's a bad idea to work off single examples of paintings...
> True enough, a single example of *anything* can be a bit problematical.  If I 
> find something that looks likely, I'll mention it on list & let folk throw 
> rocks at me, er, enlighten me.  ;)

And in this case, there's enormous doubt that it is even _an_ example,
much less that we're trying to work around a single example.  I've seen
the illustration that people have asserted to be a bowed psaltery, and it
looks pretty clearly to me like an ordinary (if simplified) harp with the
alleged "bow" being lines of the folds of the skirts of the player's
tunic.  I have an entire (exhaustive) book on English bowed instruments of
the Middle Ages, and no bowed psalteries appear.  (I refrain from
mentioning that those who have researched the question have been able to
identify the (very recent) date of invention of the instrument, since I
can only pass it on as hearsay.)


Heather Rose Jones         hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu

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