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

Illustrations - 10 of 15


Type 1 - one bridge

It is when we turn to the dulcimers with bridges that we begin to feel a closer link with reality. A second Lorraine instrument - type 1.4. - is remarkably like the first (0.4.) - two groups of strings whose saddles form rectangles, on a 'pig's head' box - but this one is played by a man, unusually standing at a table to play - apparently accompanying, with the rebec or fiddle. a secular choral piece, while a harp lies nearby.

This example could well be of a practical ensemble: metal-strung harp and dulcimer sound well together, for each has a sound which immediately decays, and this is in contrast to the more constant dynamic level of the bowed strings. The distinction is not of enormous importance in fast playing, but is most telling in slow pieces; whilst it is easy to be fanciful in interpreting such illustrations, it is certain that a vocal performance of, for instance, a Dufay or Dunstable motet or chanson à 3, could be delightfully enhanced by a fiddle on the cantus and harp and dulcimer on tenor and contratenor. Even more satisfying could be the other Lorraine ensemble (fig.27), with superius and tenor (the two parts which, on their own, are normally harmonically complete) sustained by recorder and organetto, and contratenor outlined, but not sustained, by the doulcemelle.