In the early medieval period music was quite simple - played one note at a time on a wide range of musical instruments. Later on, from around the 12th century, harmony and variation in note length were introduced. Medieval stringed instruments included the rebec, psaltery, dulcimer and hurdy gurdy. In the wind section there were wondrous horns including the crumhorn, gemshorn and lizard.
Music was provided by troubadours who wandered from place to place, or minstrels who were in service to a particular patron. Stone carvings of musicians appear in Melrose Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel and Linlithgow Palace.
Romances were essentially the blockbuster novels of their day: heroic and fantastic tales, in prose or verse, regaling the reader with the daring exploits of the chivalric knight. They were often read aloud to entertain a hall full of nobles.
Romances of King Arthur and the deeds of the Knights of the Round Table were popular subjects. Scottish medieval romances include ‘The Buik of Alexander’ and ‘Golagros and Gawane’.
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Listen to Double Estampie, an English tune from 1320, played here on the recorder and gittern with percussion.