zarazena at io.com
Sat Oct 5 07:41:40 PDT 1996
>... Some play citherns, others lyres, others dulcimers, others flutes,
>recorders, trumpets, harps, viols, British or Welsh wheels; some sing
>with cithirns; others sing accompanied by various instruments; ....
> Can anyone tell me what British or Welsh wheels are?
>From what I can find, it sounds like it is refering to an instrument best
known as a hurdy-gurdy, which is played by the turning of a crank which
turns a rosined wheel over one or more strings.
The earliest version, called a symphony or an organistrum was used in
medieval churches from the tenth century, with Odo of Cluny (c. 875-942)
writing a treatise on its construction. The organistrum was huge - 5 to 8
feet long and required two people to play it. One to turn the crank and the
other to operate the pitch rods.
It became smaller in size, and was later called a "viele `a roue" or viele
with a wheel. This was played by one person and was much more portable.
There is a painting by Georges de La Tour (1593-1652) called "Le Jouer do
viele" - The viele player, which shows an Elizabethen gentleman playing a
As you have refered to a source from Spain in the 12th century, I would
recommend you look to the Cantigas de Santa Maria, Escorial J.b.2, a
manuscript of poems dating from C. 1270 by King Alfonso X of Spain. This
has forty miniatures, most of them showing musical instruments of both
Muslim and European origin.
For further reading , I suggest THE WORLD OF MEDIEVAL & RENAISSAINCE MUSICAL
INSTRUMENTS,Jeremy Montagu, David & Charles Publishers, Devon,ISBN
Also, THE DEVELOPMENT OF WESTERN MUSIC, A History, K. Marie Stolba,
Wm.C.Brown Publishers, 1990, ISBN 0-697-00182-2, LOC # 88-71254
I hope this helps.
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