From The Library… A Renaissance Festival

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, or sim­ply vis­it any Cale­don Library branch in-world and press Play on your embed­ded music play­er.

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One Response to “From The Library… A Renaissance Festival”

  1. Emeralds says:

    What a lis­ten­ing delight! Many thanks to all who made the Renais­sance Fes­ti­val pos­si­ble.

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