Friday, March 18, 2011: Contest #6

Looks like a guitar, but ...

Not Quite Dinosaurs

Only a few generations ago, musicians used materials at hand to create their instruments. Only a few years ago, they played instruments that managed to make sounds without the help of computers.

Just as we like to study composers and compositions to understand where we’ve been and where we’re going, we can take a look at instruments for the same purpose.

So how about it? How many of these Medieval / Renaissance instruments do you recognize?

If you can name each instrument, or today’s grandchildren, in English, give yourself a point. (If you can also name them correctly in Czech, give yourself a hundred points.) Answers are at the bottom of the page.

Instrument No. 1

1 This forerunner of the piano is our only “cheat” — this particular model does have a computer program and amplification only so that its sounds can be heard by more than the lord of the manor.

Instrument No. 2

2 Looks familiar, right? But why the broken neck?

Ludus Musicus director František Běhounek (who kindly gave us this musical tour recently) explains that it was to save space.

Musicians performed in very cramped quarters in the 15th century!

3 You might have seen or played one of these.

Its descendant is a common mountain or folk instrument in the US, and can be chorded, strummed, or hammered.

This particular model is available with three or five strings.

Instrument No. 4

4 Another easy one, especially if you know anything about folk music.

Its descendant was even used in public elementary schools in the ancient days of the long-ago 20th century.

Instrument No. 5

5 Horses came in handy in the days before motorized transport.

In this case, even the hairs of the horse’s tail could be used, to make a thrumming bass note by pulling the hairs through your fingers.

But what’s it’s name? Give up?

Look for the answers, to the right of the photo below.

Ludus Musicus demonstrates

1 An early organ (Czech: organo); 2 a lute (Czech: quinterna); 3 dulcimer (Czech: kobza); 4 zither (Czech: žaldář, plucked with a feather); 5 we confess, no one could tell us the name in English (but in Czech it’s a fanfřnoch)

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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