Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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in 705, and King Alfred in 901,—yet William of Malmsbury, who flourished about 1140, tells us that one of the "trivial songs" to which Alfred alludes as written by Aldhelm for one of these occasions, was still sung by the common people.8 The literary education of youth, even of the upper classes, in Anglo-Saxon times, was limited to the being taught to commit the songs and literature of their country to memory. Every one of gentle blood was instructed in "harp and song/* but it was only thought necessary for those who were to be priests or minstrels to be taught to read and write.
p. 4. St. Dunstan.—Osbern, the monk of Canterbury, who wrote the life of Dun-stan soon after 1070, says that when a boy of fifteen, he was a great favorite at the Court of King Athelstan, on account of his various accomplishments, especially for his skill in music. That when " he saw the King and his nobles weary with labouring on the affairs of state, he cheered them all by singing and playing on the harp and other instruments."1* One of the stories related of him is that he had an enchanted harp, which performed tunes without the agency of man, when hung against a wall,—a thing by no means impossible in houses that would not keep out the wind. He was requested by a lady to assist in designing ornaments for a handsome stole. Dunstan, as usual, carried his harp with him (sumpsit secum cytharam suam, quam lingua paterna hearpan vocamus), and when he entered the apartment of the ladies, he hung it beside the wall; and in the midst of their work they were astonished by strains of excellent music which issued from the instrument. (Bridferth, fol. 70, vo.)
p. 6,1. 4. The Anglo-Saxon Fiddle or Fithele.—As I observe that M. F6tis, in his Recherches Hwtoriques et Critiques sur Vorigine et les transformations des
* "Nativae quoque linguae non negligebat carmina; adeo ut, teste libro Etfredi de quo superius dixi, nulla unquam BRtate par ei fuit quispiam, poesim Anglican* posse facere, tan turn componere, eadem apposite vel canere vel dieere. Deuique coramemorat Elfridus carmen triviale, quod adhucvulgocantitatur, Aldhelrausfecisse; adjiciens causara qua probat rationabiliter tantum virum his quse videntur frivola institisse: populum eo tempore semi-barbarum, parum divinis -sermonibus intentum, statim cantatis missis domos cursitare solitum; ideoque sanctum virum super pontem qui rura et urbem continuat, abeuntibus se opposuisse obicem, quasi artem cantandi professum. Eo plus quam hoc commento, sensira inter ludicra verbis scripturarura insertis, cives ad sanitatem reduxisse; qui si severe et cum excommunicatione agendum putasset, profecte profecisset nihil/' (Biog. Brit. Lit., i, 215.)
b The passage is " Tterum cum videret dominum regem ssecularibus curis fatigatum,psallebat in timphano sive in cithara, sive alio quolibet musici generis instrumento, quo facto tarn regis quam omnium corda principum ex-hilarabat," (Osbern, Fit. Dunst., p. 94.) I have not attempted ta translate "in timphano" In the above ex­tract, for although commonly rendered ** timbrel, tabor, or drum/' I believe a kind of bagpipe is here intended. Taking an English manuscript of the tenth century (Tiberius, c. vi., in the Cotton Collection), we find "Tympanum pellis pillacis est inflata, abens calamos duos in labiis et unum in collo." The meaning of "pillacis" is not very clear, but between "pilax," a catskin; and "pilosus," hairy, the passage maybe translated, "The
tympanum is a musical instrument made of the skin of an animal, inflated, having two pipes in the lips and one in the neck." If by " in the lips " the lips 0/ the animal are intended, and the pipe in the neck was at the back, ready for the lip* of the player, the tympanum of the tenth century probably resembled an instrument depicted in Gerhert's De Cantu, Vol. 2, Tab. xxxiv., No. 22, where a man holds up a pigskin, blowing in at the back of the neck, and having his arms on the sides, ready to squeeze out the wind. This pig, however, has only one pipe in the lips.
There is a difficulty in translating the names of several instruments which come to us from the Latin, and to the Latin from the Greek. We have to consider not only the time, but also the country of the writer. In a Latin Psalter of the eighth century, with Anglo-Saxon inter­lineation (Vesp., A. 1, Cotton Coll.), we find the instru­ments mentioned in the 150th psalm translated thus— ** in tympano—in timpanan," " in sono tube—hornes," "in psalterio — hearpan" "in cithara—eitran," "in organo—organan," "incymhalis—cymbalan." "Incoro" is there rendered as " by many people"—not, as some­times, a musical instrument. If, however, we go from the eighth to the tenth century, we find in the manuscript above quoted (Tib,, c. vi.), " Corus est pellis simplex cum duobus cicutis," and a delineation of the instrument,—a skin stretched like a drum-head in the curve formed by two pipes, evidently intended for percussion, and not fur inflation. In the fifteenth century, we find, "chorus, a crowde, an instrument of musyke."

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III