Early musicians played a variety of instruments that produced an array of harmonious sounds, such as woodwind, stringed, keyboards, and percussion instruments. Woodwind musicians played wood-based, end-blown flutes together in tandem during the Renaissance period. Popular woodwind instruments included the piccolino, soprano, alto, tenor, sopranino, and bass recorders, crumhorns, cornemuse, shawms, rackets, and sackbuts.
Musicians who specialized in stringed instruments developed affinities for the lutes, harps, psaltery, Vehuela de Mano, hurdy-gurdy, rebec, vielle, and viol. Renaissance musicians also operated the portative organ; however, musicians mainly used the harpsichord as the primary keyboard from 1500 to 1775.
Early musicians played percussion instruments all throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. Musicians mainly used percussion instruments in dance music. As with many early music instruments, percussionists derived their instruments from a variety of materials. Therefore, each percussion instrument was unique to its individual designer. No standardized design existed during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Many percussion instruments included the drum, bell, ratchet, triangle, cymbals, and the tambourine.
Did You Know?
The first English reference to the word recorder meaning a musical instrument appeared in 1388, when it was spelled ‘Recourdour’.
The Italian word for the recorder is ‘flauto dolce' which translates as ‘soft, sweet flute’.
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