instruments



Plucked Strings:
Our gittern (as constructed by gitternist Gaven Dianda) is a broadly lute-shaped instrument with three melody strings and three drone/rhythm strings, pythagorean fretting and slightly "sweetened" third. Gitterns are distinct in sound and shape from both guitars and lutes, despite an etymological relationship between gittern and guitar. Gaven sometimes also takes up the citole, a related instrument with a distinctive "holly leaf" shape and, in this case, a purer pythagorean third.



Bowed Strings:
The vielle is the medieval forerunner of the violin, with several variants in tuning, shape, bow style, and number of strings. The gut strings and flatter bridge lend themselves to a style of play with plenty of "attack" and the use of drone, appropriate for modal repertoire. Eleanor Verrette sometimes performs on the smaller, boat-shaped rebec.







Free-Ringing Strings:


The psaltery is in the zither family, with a huge number of stylistic variations: modern relatives include the arabic qanun, the autoharp, and the

soundboard inside a piano. When not singing, Tricia Postle sometimes join the ensemble on trapezoidal psaltery, step-psaltery, or "pig-snout" psaltery.






Marcabrun's pastorella "L'Autrier Jost" with gittern, vielle and tambourine:
(A satire about an immoderate knight and a shepherdess who returns his progressively more whiny entreaties with barbed wit)

An English translation is available here.

L'autrier jost' una sebissa / Trobei pastora mestissa,
De joi e de sen massissa, / Si cum filla de vilana,
Cap' e gonel' e pelissa / Vest e camiza treslissa / Sotlars e causas de lana.

Ves lieis vinc per la planissa. / --Toza, fi·m ieu, res faitissa,
Dol ai car lo freitz vos fissa. / --Seigner, so·m dis la vilana,
Merce Dieu e ma noirissa, / Pauc m'o pretz si·l vens m'erissa, / Qu'alegreta sui e sana.

--Toza, fi·m ieu, cauza pia, / Destors me sui de la via
Per far a vos compaignia! / Quar aitals toza vilana
No deu ses pareill paria / Pastorgar tanta bestia / En aital terra, soldana.

--Don, fetz ela, qui que·m sia, / Ben conosc sen e folia!
La vostra pareillaria, / Seigner, so·m dis la vilana,
Lai on se tang si s'estia, / Que tals la cuid' en bailia / Tener, no·n a mas l'ufana.

--Toza de gentil afaire, / Cavaliers fon vostre paire
Que·us engenret en la maire, / Car fon corteza vilana.
Con plus vos gart, m'etz belaire, / E per vostre joi m'esclaire, / Si·m fossetz un pauc humana

--Don, tot mon ling e mon aire / Vei revertir e retraire
Al vezoig et a l'araire, / Seigner, so·m dis la vilana!
Mas tals se fai cavalgaire / C'atrestal deuria faire / Los seis jorns de la setmana.

--Toza, fi·m ieu, gentils fada, / Vos adastret, quam fos nada,
D'una beutat esmerada / Sobre tot' autra vilana!
E seria·us ben doblada, / Si·m vezi' una vegada, / Sobira e vos sotrana.

--Seigner, tan m'avetz lauzada, / Que tota·n sui enojada!
Pois en pretz m'avetz levada, / Seigner, so·m dis la vilana,
Per so n'auretz per soudada / Al partir : bada, fols, bada, / E la muz'a meliana.

--Toz', estraing cor e salvatge / Adomesg' om per uzatge.
Ben conosc al trespassatge / Qu'ab aital toza vilana
Pot hom far ric compaignatge / Ab amistat de coratge, / Si l'us l'autre non engana.

--Don, hom coitatz de follatge / Jur' e pliu e promet gatge:
Si·m fariatz homenatge, / Seigner, so·m dis la vilana!
Mas ieu, per un pauc d'intratge, / Non vuoil ges mon piucellatge, / Camjar per nom de putana.

--Toza, tota creatura / Revertis a sa natura:
Pareillar pareilladura / Devem, ieu e vos, vilana,
A l'abric lonc la pastura, / Car plus n'estaretz segura / Per far la cauza doussana.

--Don, oc! mas segon dreitura / Cerca fols sa follatura,
Cortes cortez' aventura, / E·il vilans ab la vilana!
En tal loc fai sens fraitura / On hom non garda mezura, / So ditz la gens anciana.

--Toza, de vostra figura / Non vi autra plus tafura / Ni de son cor plus trefana.

--Don, lo cavecs vos ahura, / Que tals bad' en la peintura / Qu'autre n'espera la mana.