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A Guide to Instruments found In Aradath

Instruments In Alphabetical Order:

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The construction of the bagpipe allows a continuous supply of air to be maintained. By squeezing the bag with his left hand while a breath is taken, the flow of air can be kept up in both the drone pipes and chanter. Other features of this instrument are the mouthpipe and the double reed of the chanter and drone. The mouthpipe contains a round piece of leather hinged onto the bag end which acts as a one way valve. As the player blows air in, the flap opens; when he stops blowing the air pressure within the bag forces the flap shut. The chanter has seven finger holes and a thumb hole, and has a usual range of an octave and one note.




It is wooden, with a cylindrical bore and a double reed that is covered by a wooden cap pierced by a raised slit against which the player's lips rest. Articulation is effected by the tongue stopping and opening this windway. The crumhorn was turned out of a length of wood, which was then bored out, filled with sand, plugged, and the lower end steamed (to soften it) and finally bent into a half circle. The curve is decorative only, perhaps being a reminder of earlier wind instruments made out of cow's horns, but perhaps to make the long pipe less clumsy for the player. The curved bell section of many surviving instruments is hollowed out to form a more or less conical foot, which has the effect of raising the volume.


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The dulcian was made in several sizes and has a range of about two and one-half octaves (C to g1). As the name indicates, the tone has a dolce quality when compared to the shawm. The bass size was the one which lasted as the forerunner of the bassoon. Its is a cumbersome and heavy instrument. The dulcian could be used an outdoor band instrument and in the courtly chamber for more intimate secular music. To counteract the bottom-heavy sound created by its conical bore, and to allow it to play with softer instruments, a perforated mute or bell cap, looking much like a pepper shaker, may be inserted in the open end.


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Dulcimers often had one or two bridges over which the strings crossed providing the opportunity for more pitches because the performer could strike a sound on each side of the bridge. Dulcimers had single courses of six to nine strings and were played on the lap or on a table. The hammers seem to be held between the index and middle fingers. A century later, the multiple bridges were more common, with between eight and twelve double courses. A neck strap could be used for portability. Soundboards were commonly decorated.


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The most common viol has six strings and is tuned in the interval of fourths with a third in the middle. It has a long tail, fretted finger board (like the modern guitar), a flat back, sloping shoulders, and deep sides with reinforcing crossbars inside. A carved head often adorns the top of the instrument. The viol has the shape of a dismembered female body, and when held between the legs in playing position, as in the case of the bass viol, a type of play may be imagined that is not strictly musical. All viols are played while seated, with the instrument held on or between the knees. (There is no support on which to rest the instrument as is the case with the modern cello.) The viol bow is held in an underhanded position with the finger controlling the tension of the horse hair.


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The gemshorn is the only flute with a sharply tapering conical bore. Its shape is determined naturally since it is made from the horn of a chamois or ox. The tone has a sweet color somewhere between a soft recorder and an ocarina. Its haunting delicate sound is even more impressive when one considers the ordinary material from which it is constructed. Shepherds probably used its gentle tones to calm animals.


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The harp is a stringed instrument. Harps use open strings exclusively, thus the range of each is determined by the number of strings. The strings are made from twisted animal gut (usually from sheep), although horse hair and even silk are used as well. Each string of the harp is attached to a wooden peg or metal pin. Strings are tuned by adjusting these pegs or pins. Since tuning was diatonic, only one mode could be used at a time.


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The harpsichord is a musical instrument whose strings are plucked from a keyboard and which sits on a table or stand while being played. They are made in varying shapes, sizes and sounds. They may be called virginals another term for harpsichords whose strings are parallel to the keyboard.


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Deriving its name from kurz Holz (short wood), this instrument was the one where the reed-cap principle was applied to the cylindrical double bore to give a soft low buzzy sound.


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THE LIZARD (tenor cornett)

Also known as lysard or lysarden. The tenor of the zink family (also known as lysard or lysarden) has the peculiar curved shape of a flattened letter s. Besides giving the instrument its name, this shape helps the player cover the finger holes on this longer zink. The holes for each hand happen to be in the portion of the curves which are closest to the player. The lizard's tone is pleasing, yet rather foggy. It blends well with voices and plays on one of the inner voices of an ensemble.


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Its belly is made of pine, often only one-sixteenth inch thick, with a carved sound-hole or rose in the middle. Some lute bodies will allow light to pass through. Wooden bars glued underneath the belly strengthen it and add to the resonance. The pear shaped back is constructed from several ribs, shaped and bent over a mold, and then glued together edge to edge. These ribs may be made of sycamore, cedar, yew, or cypress, and often are no more than one-thirty-second of an inch in thickness. Stringing is light since the body is not able to withstand twelve or more strings at high tension. Plucking is done with the soft part of the fingers and thumb, not the nails. The best lute players use little motion of either hand.


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constructed as a straight, tapered, one-piece instrument which was turned on a lathe. Instead of having a detachable mouthpiece, a tiny conical recess was cut into the top to serve as the mouthpiece. There are holes in the body for fingering similar to recorders. The narrow bore of the mute cornett gave it an exquisitely soft sound and makes it ideal in consorts with recorders, lutes, and viols.


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The psaltery (psalterion, saltere, sauterie, Psalterium, Psalter, salterio) is an instrument seen in many forms. Some versions are simply a wooden board with gut strings stretched between pegs. The strings were plucked with fingers or by plectra. Other forms are a hollow box or soundboard with soundholes and metal strings. The player will performe the instrument on their lap or on a table, or in front of the chest held with a strap around his neck if movement was needed.


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The rebec's (rebeca, rebecq, rebet, ribeca, rebecum, rabel, or rebequin) rounded pear-shaped body is carved from a single block of wood and tapers in such a way that there is no visible distinction between the body and the neck. The fingerboard is a raised part of the soundboard or is fixed to it from above, but this does not change the frontal outline of the instrument. Rebecs have no soundpost and the pegholder is flat. Rebecs come in many sizes and pitches and the number of strings vary from three to five.


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The instrument's essential features are the lip (cut near the top of the body), the fipple (a block of wood inserted in the end to be blown), and the windway (a narrow channel along the fipple through which air is blown against the edge of the lip to produce sound).


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The Sackbut (literally "push-pull"), saqueboute, shakbusshes, seykebuds, sakbuds, shakebuttes, shagbutts, and even shagbolts.


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Used in sacred music to reinforce low men's voices. When well played, it blends with voices and gives a depth to the choral sound. The serpent uses a mouthpiece similar to that of a trombone and is sounded the same way as other brass instruments, so it is classified as "brass", but it was originally, and often still is, made of wood, covered with leather. Dating from the late 16th century, it gets its name from its shape.


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The viols were bowed instruments with frets. They were usually played held downwards on the lap or between the legs (the name viola da gamba translates to leg viol). The tone is quiet but with a rather distinctly nasal quality which many think makes it too restrained for dance music but an ideal instrument for polyphony where the clarity of texture is so important.



  • Wikipedia - The Viol

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    The most versatile wind instrument was the cornett or zink. The zink can be used indoors and out, in serious music, dance music, town bands, rural households, at temple, and court. Its uniqueness is due to its hybrid construction: a very small acorn cup mouthpiece (played on the side of the mouth where the lips are thinner) is attached to a hollowed out piece of curved wood. Six finger holes and a thumb hole are drilled in the body of the zink and it is fingered in much the same manner as a recorder. A competent performer can make the zink sound as loud as a trumpet or softly enough to blend with recorders. No other instrument came so close to the sound of the human voice. Very little breath is used in playing the zink.


  • Wikipedia - Zink (Musik)

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    Images and descriptions can be credited to: or

    Musica Antiqua - Since 1967, when this unique ensemble was formed at Iowa State University, Musica Antiqua has helped bring early music, song, and dance to crowds across Iowa and from St. Louis to Denver.
    Link Last Checked On: 2:38 PM 8/8/2007

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