CHAPTER 3: History to 1800 > Early Renaissance - 15th century

Illustrations - 5 of 15

fig.20: 'Muses' from Champion des Dames, c.1441-2, Martin le Franc
(Musée de Grenoble)

The third and fourth types are a little more sculptured, having curved sides as a modification of the basic oblong and trapezoid shapes; two instruments of type 0 have one side curving out from a rectangle - we may call them type 0.3. presumably for extra resonance. and in a shape very reminiscent of the Alpine zithers and some langspils and hummels (see Supplement 2).

One of Martin le Franc's Nine Muses (fig.20) has such an instrument on her lap, much deeper than normal - comparable with the old Ulster dulcimers discussed in Chapter 4 - and again with only four strings. What is particularly remarkable is the height that her hands are above the strings, the hammers held up to her shoulders in a fist-grip; if this was taken from life, the resulting sound must have been quite fierce. However, the other instruments shown are all lacking in some rather important particular, whether it be frets, finger-holes or a keyboard for the organetto, so one can scarcely look to this miniature for practical detail, charming though its social grouping appears.