Medieval Strings Part II: Plucks

Oct 18, 2012 | blog, medieval, Newberry Consort, Strings | 0 comments

The Wonderful World of Medieval Stringed Instruments:  Part II

Plucked stringed instruments also abounded in the Middle Ages. The most popular one was without a doubt the harp.  Our idea that angels play harps came from the many depictions of the instrument in Medieval art, which is entirely understandable considering the ethereal nature of its sound. In the type of music you’ll hear in our next  program, you’ll hear the small, gut-strung medieval harps, which provide  a wonderful counterpoint to the sustained bowed-strings and winds.  In combination with those instruments it creates a transparent texture for the piece as a whole that allows the listener to actually hear the music better. When a piece is played with two harps accompanying the voices, it is as though the angels are singing.


The lute will feature in our concert as well.  Mark plays a small, lightly strung Medieval lute when the music calls for a fast-moving line and the crisp articulation of a plectrum instead of the softer, warmer sounds of the harp.  These plucked instruments add a wonderful rhythm and articulation to the instrumental sound of the ensemble, and are wonderful to look at, besides!

David Douglass


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