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Instruments Of The Middle Ages Essay

1317 words - 6 pages

Before instrument were played by themselves, many people considered the voice the main instrument of the age (“Medieval Music”). Instruments started to take their place in music around the sixteenth century. They became more than just playing along with music that was composed for voices. Instrumentals, (where the instruments would be played without voices to music composed just for instruments), became more popular especially for dancing. When the music composers of this time wrote music, they did not specify which instruments to play; one instrumental could sound completely different depending on what instrument was used (Sporre 335). The musicians of this age were called Minstrels and Troubadours (“Musical Instruments”). Musical Instruments of this time were used mainly for secular songs and music and not with the music of the church. Voices were still what was mainly used in the church to sing hymns. (“Medieval Music”).
Many of the instruments from the Middle Ages we still have today or have a variation of a similar type of medieval instrument (“Musical Instruments”). The two broad categories of this day were outdoor and indoor instruments. The outdoor instruments were generally louder (trumpets), while the indoor instruments were softer and meant to be played indoors (lute) (Sporre 335). As time went on, musical instruments were classified into three, more specific groups: Wind Instruments, Stringed Instruments, and Percussion Instruments. To this day, we still have these types of musical instrument categories (“Musical Instruments”).
The first group of instruments that will be discussed are the Wind Musical Instruments. The instruments were blown into and their sound was made using air (“Musical Instruments”). Some of these instruments, like the flute, were used for softer, indoor music while other instruments of the group were loud and played outside, like the horns or bagpipe (Sporre 335). Many of these instruments are still used today although some were only popular and unique in their time (“Musical Instruments”).
The first example of a Medieval wind instrument is the Bagpipe. The lower class would often use this instrument. It was made with reed pipes and a type of animal skin, mostly sheep or goat skin. The way to play it would be to use one of the several pipes and blow into the bag producing a very unique and unusual sound (“Musical Instruments”). Another type of wind instrument is a Shawn. This instrument is not as familiar as a bagpipe probably is. The Shawn is made out of a reed pipe. To produce the sound, you would blow into the pipe and cover different vent holes with your fingers to make different sounds. It resembled a present-day flute or recorder (“Musical Instruments”). The last example of this group is a Gemshorn. The Gemshorn is made out of an actual ox horn. As you blew into it, the horn would naturally produce a different sound. Many horns like this were used, such as the Crumhorn or the Lizard (“Musical...

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