Instruments

The basis of Oliphant's sound is formed by chant, fiddle, recorder, dulcimer and medieval lute. The musicians are multi instrumentalists and they have access to a large selection of the instruments known to be used in the middle ages. There were also many instruments in the middle ages whose names are now forgotten.

Medieval fiddle (vielle) is a stringed instrument which has gut strings. The fiddle can be tuned in many ways, the most common being tuning based on G. In the middle ages fiddle was a popular song accompaniment instrument, often played by the singer himself. Typically several strings are played at once, producing harmonies. The fiddle often has a flat bridge, making it possible to play just the first string alone, all the strings together, or the first string with simultaneously plucking the last string with thumb.

Compared to the later flauto dolce, medieval recorder had a warmer tone, which favoured the use of low register. The history of recorder before 14th century is only vaguely known. However, a large selection of instruments of different kinds and sizes, with beak-shaped or truncated mouthpieces, were in use from very early on. The Oliphant has in its use soprano, alto and tenor recorders.

Dulcimer is a box zither which is played by striking the strings with hammers. Because the strings are not dampened, a pleasant background sound forms, which is excellent for unisonous music. The instrument is very virtuosic and favours rich ornamenting when accompanying singing. Oliphant has in its use dulcimers of various sizes and sound colours.

Medieval lute is a fretless oud, which has a warm tone. Because the lute is well suited for percussive playing too, percussion instruments are not necessarily needed.

The Oliphant can transform to a loud, mainly wind instrument based ”musica alta” ensemble. Double reed instruments, shawm and bombard, are complemented with a slide trumpet. Also percussion instruments fit well for this this kind of ensembles, which existed in the late middle ages. Oliphant has in its use for instance a large double membrane drum played with a stick, and an Arabian tambourine, which has remained similar all the way from middle ages.

Symphonia (hurdy-gurdy), which has two melody strings and two drone strings, is well-suited for delicate songs. Other drone instruments are bagpipes (hümmelchen) and Jew's harp, which is probably the oldest melody instrument in the world. In addition to these, Oliphant uses a Transilvanian double flute, which has two pipes one producing only the base tone. In many medieval pictures you can see tuned bells and other rattle-like instruments, which are similar to those Oliphant has in its use.

Slide trumpet
Slide trumpet
Various instruments
Various instruments
Recorders
Recorders
Dulcimer
Dulcimer
Medieval fretless lute
Medieval fretless lute
Bombard and bagpipes
Bombard and bagpipes

Page last modified on November 21, 2006, at 08:56 PM