Fairford History Society

Craftsman’s Art and Music’s Measure – 14 September 2017

Alan Crumpler, David Hatcher and Dr Mary Remnant

Alan Crumpler, David Hatcher and Dr Mary Remnant

As a follow up to the publication of Music in the Window’s of St Mary’s Church in 2014, a talk was arranged to take place in the Church entitled ‘Craftsman’s Art and Music’s Measure: the making and playing of medieval instruments; illustrated by Alan Crumpler and David Hatcher with guest artist Dr Mary Remnant.

The afternoon talk attempted and succeeded to give an indication of the sound which may have been made by some of the instruments to be seen in the windows of St Mary’s (which are illustrated in the FHS booklet). Several of the instruments are quite plainly visible in the glass but some are less so and comparisons to similar instruments may be made from other contemporary sources including manuscript illustrations, stone and wooden carvings and window glass.

Alan, David and Mary played short extracts of medieval music on their instruments, including the long trumpet, shawm, rebec, harp, psaltery and pipe, recorders, portative organ, mandora and bagpipes. Some of the tunes were recognisable as played today.

The process of making a fiddle

The process of making a fiddle

The second part of the presentation illustrated methods of making a fiddle or vielle, (from approximately 12th to the 16th century) and a small symphony (musical instrument) based on an illustration in the Lutterel Psalter. The rebec and early fiddles were made from a single block of wood. Evidence for this is found in a few remains of instruments that have been discovered, including those from the flagship the Mary Rose.

It was a fascinating and delightful afternoon. The craftsmanship and skill of the performers were awe-inspiring.

John Read with a Portative Organ, the bellows are under the base

John Read with a Portative Organ, the bellows are under the base

The angel with the portative organ in Window 23 of St Mary's Church, Fairford

The angel with the portative organ in Window 23 of St Mary’s Church, Fairford