In this week’s From The Library we present a festival of Renaissance music — with the addition of a number of seasonal and other tracks that are not quite so closely tied to the period but can generally be traced back to the Renaissance or beyond.
You’ll be hearing both “loud” and “soft” bands — the former including brass instruments such as the sackbutt (a proto-trombone), shawm (a wooden reed instrument that is the predecessor of the oboe, brought to Europe from the Arab lands), rauschpfeife (an astonishingly loud capped-reed instrument in which, like a bagpipe chanter, the reed is enclosed and never touches the lips, in contrast to the shawm) and various forms of percussion, usually heard outdoors; while the latter includes quieter indoor instruments like the crumhorn, recorders, various stringed instruments and occasional keyboards.
The illustration shows what appears to be a “loud” band in the minstrel gallery above the Great Hall of a well-to-do man’s house, perhaps playing for a dance or other event. Two sackbutts are evident along with a couple of shawms, two percussionists behind. A somewhat surprising addition is the instrument on the right, which appears to be a cornett. These were originally hollowed-out curved horns, although some were also made of wood. Played (with great difficulty) like a brass instrument but with a very small mouthpiece, fingering was as a recorder. It is usually associated with choral and sacred music and has a very sweet, high, ethereal tone.
• From The Library is presented by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life, and today’s programme was produced by Elrik Merlin. For more information on the Caledon Library, current exhibits and the work of Second Life reference libraries in general, please visit the Caledon Library Web site, or one of their locations in-world.
• You can listen to the program now at http://music.radioriel.org, or simply visit any Caledon Library branch in-world and press Play on your embedded music player.