Alfonso X: Instruments, Then & Now ( II )

Instruments from the Cantigas, Part 2 (Winds)


Welcome to the second half of a study of the medieval musical instruments depicted in Las Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso, el sabio. I did not expect this project to expand as much as it has but it turns out I have more to say than I originally thought, or I have taken longer to say it.
If you have read through the first half, you have seen the overall organization of the illuminations which I pointed out in a table. What you may not realize, nor did I until I began this recent project, is that there are more differences between the first and second halves than just the types of instruments. Let me suggest that you look at each miniature as if you were meeting the inhabitants for the first time. Aside from their instruments, look at their faces and hair, their poses (their body language), their clothing, and see if you notice trends, tendencies, commonalities. You should already have a feel for the musicians in the first half; look at this second group and see if the same things strike you that occurred to me. This is not rocket science, this is exploration, history, ethnology, common sense, and anyone can do it. The people are just as interesting and important as the instruments. Always remember, “Instruments don’t make music, People do.” If you have a specialty which gives you a different insight or just see something that I missed, take parchment and quill and dispatch me a missive. And, if you have read this far, thank you.

Curtis Carlisle Bouterse, PhD