minstrel: Music Maker

Heather Rose Jones hrjones at socrates.Berkeley.EDU
Tue Nov 14 18:37:40 PST 2000


>Good Gentles, 
>
>I was wondering if anyone could give me an opinion on the follwoing item.
>
>I have noticed for the past few years in stores selling children's
>educational toys an instrument called the "Music Maker".  It is trapezoidal
>in shape, metal strung and meant to be plucked.  I was wondering if this
>instrument could be used to approximate a plucked psaltry. 
>
>Its advantage is it is readily available in large centres, not too
>expensive, (about $50 Canadian), can be used to accompany singing, and can
>even be put on one's wish list for mundane relatives.  Although I am
>thinking of adult use, it can be a used by children looking for an
>instrument besides recorder to play at events .  I believe it did get very
>good reviews from those who review children's "toys" when it first came out.
>
>Opinions please?


I've noticed it in the catalogs, too.  It is clear that the historic 
instrument that it most resembles is, in fact, a trapezoidal psaltery 
-- but that's approaching the question from the other side.  I 
haven't really looked at it in terms of "what -- on a quantitative 
and qualitative basis -- are the differences between a "Music Maker" 
and a period psaltery, and how well would it approximate one?"  The 
temptation is to judge it against the historicity of other popular 
folk instruments used at SCA events and give it positive marks on 
that basis.  For example, if you were trying to decide between buying 
one of these and buying a bowed psaltery for SCA performance, the 
"Music Maker" would win hands down in my opinion.  But simply saying 
"you could do a lot worse" doesn't come off sounding like a strong 
endorsement.

I guess my feeling is that it would make a good addition to "cheap 
and accessible approximations of period musical instruments", but 
someone who moves on to the next level of interest needs to be aware 
of the differences between it and a medieval psaltery (which are 
likely to involved things like size, range, physical structure, 
string material, etc.).

Tangwystyl
-- 
*****
Heather Rose Jones
hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu
*****

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