Giuseppe Severini

Giuseppe Severini





Santiago de Compostela Organistrum: an astronomical approach
Giuseppe Severini
Istituto di Archeoastronomia Siciliana, Italy
Associazione Culturale Secoli Bui, Italy
Andrea Orlando
Istituto di Archeoastronomia Siciliana, Italy
Laboratori Nazionali del Sud (INFN), Italy

The famous Gate of Glory in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral (Galicia), dedicated to
St. James (Unceta, 2004), recently  examined in an interesting archaeoastronomical perspective
(Vilas Estevéz and Gonzalez-Garcia, 2016) too, has been built following an iconographic project
inspired by St. John’s book of Apocalypse (Moralejo, 1988). At the top of main arch, in the middle
of the 24 venerable men’s row around Christ’s throne, there is a peculiar musical instrument (Fig.
1) -equipped with a wheel- played by two of them (Luengo, 1988). The particular position, the
extremely accurate details and the peculiarity of the instrument underline the importance of an
object whose origins, symbolism and actual musical role (Lopez-Calo, 1988) have never been
completely explained.
The most intriguing features are: a) 12 intervals division of the octave; b) wheel used to produce
sound; c) general shape and decorations. In this article we introduce a possible interpretation of
Organistrum as a sampler of cosmological and astronomical knowledge typical of European culture
from IX to XII century (Eastwood, 1997; McCluskey, 1998). Close relationship between astronomy
and music in platonic-pythagorean doctrines (Albertazzi, 2010) is confirmed through detailed
analysis of astronomical texts in manuscripts copied in Benedictine scriptoria from Carolingian
Renaissance onwards (Eastwood, 2007).
Beyond general reference to Plato’s Timaeus, through Macrobius and Calcidius commentaries
(Martello, 2011), main suggestions to our study come from interesting diagrams (Eastwood and
Grasshoff, 2004) found in these manuscripts (e.g.: clm 14436, f.61r, Munich Bayerische
Staatsbibliothek). Organistrum could be considered a representation of Cosmos, a sort of acoustic
planetary, the Christian answer to Oud’s astronomical interpretation proposed by Arabic school
(Severini, 2015), that by the ninth century had moved from Baghdad to Cordoba (Godwin, 1993;
Lindberg, 1992).

Albertazzi, M. (ed.), Philosophia. Lavìs. La Finestra editrice, 2010.
Eastwood, B., Ordering the Heavens. Roman Astronomy and Cosmology in the Carolingian Renaissance. Brill, 2007.
Eastwood, B. and G. Grasshoff, Planetary Diagrams For Roman Astronomy In Medieval Europe, ca. 800-1500,
Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 94, No. 3, 2004.
Godwin, J. (ed.), The Harmony of the Spheres: A Sourcebook of the Pythagorean Tradition, in Music, Inner Traditions
International, Rochester, Vermont, 1993.
Lindberg, D.C., The Beginnings of Western Science: the European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious and
Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Lopez-Calo, La musica en la Catedral de Santiago, A.D.1188, in El Portico de la Gloria. Musica, Arte y pensamento.
“Cuadernos de Musica en Compostela II”, Santiago de Compostela, 1988.
Luengo, F., Los instrumentos del portico, in El portico de la Gloria. Musica, Arte y pensamento, “Cuadernos de Musica
en Compostela II”, Santiago de Compostela, 1988.
Martello, C., Platone a Chartres. Palermo: Officina di Studi Medievali, 2011.
McCluskey, S.C., Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Moraeljo, S., Marco historico y contexto liturgico en la obra del Portico de la Gloria, in El Portico de la Gloria.
Musica, Arte y pensamento, “Cuadernos de Musica en Compostela II”, Santiago de Compostela, 1988.
Severini, G., La reconstitution des Rebabs d'après les peintures du XII siècle de la Chapelle Palatine à Palerme, in
L'instrumentarium du Moyen Age. La restitution du son. Paris: l'Harmattan, 2015.
Vilas Estévez, B. and C. González-García, Illuminating effects at the cathedral of Saint James (Galicia): first results,
Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 465-471, 2016.





(Documento provvisorio - work in progress)



Probably at the end of the X hundred a wheel and a keyboard were added to a large-size bowed Lyre, like those represented in S.Millian de la Cogolla Beatus manuscript. The playing position must obviously change, in order to allow two musicians to operate properly on the same instrument. We cannot actually tell whether the wheel and the keyboard came along at the same time or not. Since the instrument appears only in sacred contexts many authors think it was devoted to Organum parallelum. There are good reasons to disagree.

  1. Organum parallelum had been described since VIII hundred in texts as Musica enchiriadis, Scholica enchiriadis (late VIII hundred), Micrologus ( X hundred), Winchester Troper (X hundred) . It was never related to instrumental accompaniment, since natural consonances as Octave, Fifth and Fourth are easily obtained simply “by ear”.
  2. If you want to invent, write or accompany such simple polyphonies you don’t need as a complex instruments as the “two men lyre”. A large-size bowed Lyre would work better. The instrument painted in quoted manuscript from S.Millan has two long strings passing over the fingerboard ( tuned a fifth or a fourth apart), while the middle one ends under the fingerboard, acting as a drone (possibly an octave above the bass string).

On the contrary I believe that the “two men Lyre” had been invented in order to compose and play the new two voices polyphonies becoming popular in monasteries during the X and XI hundreds. I refer to collections containing new kind of Organum such as organum per motum contrarium, Organum floridum or melismaticum and free organum in: Ad organum faciendum (c1100), music manuscripts of S.Martial de Limosges, Codex Calixtinus, Magnus liber organi . Then, the increasing complexity of XII hundred polyphonic music caused the instrument to be quickly dropped out or transformed into simpler forms.


The instrument sculpted at the top of the gate is famous for the accuracy of its representation and for its beautiful decorations. The shape of the sound box is an “8” made of two identical circles connected by two little lobes. The outline between the sound box and the keyboard is a broken line. The two little instruments sculpted at both sides have the same shape but different proportions.


The musicians are holding the instrument on their knees, looking at each other: the first is turning the crank with his right hand, his left hand on the middle of the sound box. The second musician is handling the keys with both hands, thumbs outward. Nobody knows which was the mechanism of the keyboard. A largely adopted solution is to make keys you can lift up and drop down. Some authors suggest that the keys were turned, but all attempts to make instruments with turning keys have been rather unsuccessful.[1]


I used measures found in studies edited by two important scholars: Christian Rault and Francisco Luengo [2]. Through these sources I have studied the proportions of the instrument. 12 little cylinders can be observed in the sculpture. If they were all keys there wouldn’t be enough room for the nut: in fact the first cylinder must be the nut, and Francisco Luengo does remark that this stone piece is a bit different from the others. A further problem in measuring the diapason is the gap between the two blocks of the sculpture. Different opinions about the width of this gap and consequent possible alteration of the diapason were expressed by Luengo and Rault. After considering pictures from APEMUTAM, I decided to follow Luengo’s opinion that this gap is irrelevant (about 1/70 of total length).  


Diapason and circumference of sound box circle have the same length. This seems to me the basic ratio of the whole structure.


The artist made the keys at the same average distance from one another, the 12th few mm before the half of the string, measured from the first cylinder (considered as to be the nut) to the bridge. Thus we can consider 11 keys, one for each step of the chromatic scale, without accomplishing the octave.


The only place left for the three tuning pegs is behind the keyboard, where they can be easily placed, being invisible from the front view.


Since no chromatic scale has been described by XI hundred authors, one should be surprised observing that Symphonia has 11 keys within the octave. As a matter of fact both hexachordal system and staff notation developments (from VIII to X hundreds) had led to a strict observance of diatonic structure in musical composition, definitely excluding many sounds (fictae) probably used previously.[3] In the effort to establish absolute rules for musical practice, theorists give us the idea of a Semitone which is:

  1. The main discriminative element by which any hexachord can be identified;
  2. Provided with an unambiguous identity: it is only ONE: e-f.

Chromatic steps were obtained by shifting natural semitone e-f belonging to standard “ C natural hexachord” through multiple mutationes and permutationes. This way several false hexachords were added to true, or recti ones, to provide necessary semitones, lacking in guidonian recta gamut [4]. We know that the search for a wider gamut was already developed in the last quarter of the XI hundred....

(to be continued)

[1] Christian Rault, L’organistrum ou l’instrument des premières polyphonies écrites occidentales. Klincksieck, 1985. Aleyn Wykington, Reconstruction of an Organistrum from Iconographic Evidence.>uploads>2011/04

[2] Francisco Luengo, Los instrumentos del portico. In: El Portico de la Gloria. Musica, Arte y pensamento. “Cuadernos de Musica en Compostela II” Santiago de Compostela, 1988. Christian Rault, La reconstitution de l’organistrum. Santiago de Compostela, 1993.                                                          

[3] Giulio Cattin, La monodia nel Medioevo.Torino, 1991, p 74

[4]Clovis Alfonso De André, Inscribing medieval pedagogy: musica ficta in its tesxts. May 9th 2005. Major Professor Dr.Michael Long. A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduated School of the State University of New York at Buffalo, p 17-18; p.29; p 36-37; p 57; p 191.







Rileggendo e riconsiderarndo due noti articoli di Christopher Page (GSJ, march,1982-march 1983), credo che il nome corretto di questo strumento non sia Organistrum, nonostante l'uso generale. Vorrei trattare il problema della denominazione in un futuro e più completo studio.


Nel famoso Portico della Gloria, nella Cattedrale di San Giacomo a Compostela, troviamo una delle prime raffigurazioni di uno strumento a ruota, suonato da due persone: questo oggetto bizzarro si trova al centro e al sommo del portale, il posto più vicino alla testa di Cristo.

Le domande a cui ho cercato di rispondere sono essenzialmente due: come si suonava questo strano strumento e perché gli veniva attribuita tanta importanza?

Il Portico della Gloria, ispirato al libro dell’Apocalisse, è caratterizzato da un forte valore simbolico, evidentemente legato alla teologia. Tuttavia, studiando la figura assai curiosa dello strumento in questione, ho trovato che le dottrine Pitagoriche e Platoniche potevano darmi preziosi suggerimenti, essendo ben radicate nella cultura europea del secolo XII e al fondamento della nostra teoria musicale (1).

Ecco dunque una descrizione sintetica della struttura, delle decorazioni e dell’ipotetico funzionamento dello strumento alla luce di alcune delle dottrine ben note del cosiddetto “Platonismo latino”.

  1. Il primo cerchio della cassa rappresenta l’Anima del Mondo, il cerchio dell’Identico che contiene il cerchio del Diverso, la ruota, che girando produce il Suono invisibile;
  2. Il secondo cerchio: il mondo visibile, fenomenologico, simboleggiato dalla grande rosetta che rappresenta la Natura materiale, suddivisa nei quattro elementi, racchiusa entro la sfera delle Stelle fisse;
  3. La tastiera: il mondo razionale della nostra facoltà di misura, di giudizio e di rappresentazione, della grammatica del Suono (Musica), sviluppato lungo una retta, immagine del nostro pensiero lineare. La decorazione del coperchio presenta un motivo ottenuto intrecciando 4 fasce. Da questo intreccio si formano 11 nodi, che corrispondono agli 11 tasti, e 12 fori. Quattro infatti sono gli elementi, quattro le cause di ogni avvenimento e quattro i numeri della Tetraktis. La spiegazione del numero Undici è più complessa. Questo numero non rientra nei calcoli delle consonanze e degli altri intervalli armonici e non si trova fra i numeri cosidetti sacri. Ma nella cultura astronomica medioevale fra IX e XII secolo compare significativamente in due contesti: la divisione della Sfera celeste in 11 cerchi nel Commento di Macrobio e l’enumerazione di 11 segni zodiacali ( Scorpione e Bilancia costituirebbero un solo segno) nel De nuptiis di Marziano Capella (2). Comunque, pur evidenziando questi dati, preferisco ritenere che le undici chiavi siano un segno della divisione dell’Ottava in 12 semitoni, rispecchiandosi in essa il numero dei segni zodiacali (3).Tale interpretazione sarebbe avvalorata da un’ ultima osservazione:

LA MISURA DEL DIAPASON CORRISPONDE ALLA CIRCONFERENZA DI CIASCUNO DEI CERCHI CHE COMPONGONO LA CASSA. Se il diapason dello strumento fosse stato pensato come un’ “eclittica rettificata”, certamente i dodici suoni ottenuti da ciascuna corda dello strumento rappresenterebbero le costellazioni dello Zodiaco. O potremmo anche dire, secondo un procedimento familiare al pensiero medievale, che una tale novità nella divisione della Gamma troverebbe una giustificazione astronomica, dunque celeste, nel numero delle costellazioni zodiacali. Con quale sistema potrebbe essere stata calcolata nel XII secolo una scala cromatica può facilmente ricavarsi dagli ultimi capitoli del De Institutione musica di Severino Boezio.

I due saggi musicisti, o anche teorici, compositori, si guardano, realizzando nel loro dialogo l’unità dei mondi. Il loro posto, di conseguenza, è il più vicino alla testa di Cristo, che rappresenta l’unificazione delle nature materiale e spirituale, l’unione della Terra e del Cielo.


Si è molto discusso in passato su questo argomento. Cosa fanno esattamente i due musicisti? Essi sostengono lo strumento sulle ginocchia, guardandosi: il primo gira la ruota con la mano destra e con la sinistra tiene ferma la cassa al centro. L’altro manipola i tasti con entrambe le mani, i pollici rivolti in avanti. I liutai hanno pensato che i tasti vengano alzati e abbassati OPPURE ruotati. Io ho pensato che i due movimenti possano non essere alternativi, ma contemporanei. E’ questa idea che sta alla base della mia interpretazione della tastiera.


Lo strumento di Compostela è noto per il rigore della rappresentazione (5), tuttavia, prima di farne la ricostruzione, ho dovuto chiarire alcune questioni.

  1. Quanti sono i tasti? Si vedono 12 piccoli cilindri, ma se essi fossero tutti tasti non ci sarebbe posto per il capotasto, poiché l’inizio della tastiera sarebbe troppo vicino al primo tasto.
  2. Quindi, dove si trova il capotasto? Si deve pensare che il primo cilindro sia il capotasto. Francisco Luengo osserva infatti che questo pezzetto di pietra è in effetti un po’ diverso dagli altri (6)
  3. Qual è la divisione dell’Ottava? Lo scultore ha fatto i tasti tutti all’incirca alla medesima distanza l’uno dall’altro e l’ultimo si trova quasi alla metà della corda. La soluzione più vicina all’originale mi è parsa quella di fare 11 tasti secondo una progressione cromatica senza completare l’Ottava. In tal modo si hanno 12 suoni, compreso quello della corda a vuoto.
  4. Dove sono le chiavi per l’accordatura? Il solo posto che rimane per le tre chiavi è al di sotto della tastiera, e così ho fatto, senza trovare alcuna difficoltà.


  1. CORDE E TASTIERA.   L’accordatura è LA2   RE (MI)2   LA3. L’estensione totale sulle tre corde è di due ottave cromatiche. Il musicista può sollevare e ruotare ciascun tasto cilindrico moltiplicando così le possibilità esecutive. Infatti, prima di sollevare il tasto può SCEGLIERE SU QUALE DELLE TRE CORDE suonare: nella prima posizione toccherà la prima corda (la più grave), ruotando il tasto in posizione 2 toccherà la seconda e in posizione 3 la terza. Dunque è possibile suonare allo stesso tempo due voci differenti sulle tre corde e di conseguenza possiamo affermare che il nostro sia un interessante strumento polifonico. Ho salvato la possibilità di eseguire delle polifonie primitive: in posizione 4 il tasto infatti agisce sulla seconda e sulla terza corda contemporaneamente (ad intervallo di quinta o di quarta) per fare Organum parallelum, lasciando la corda grave in funzione di bordone.
  2. LA RUOTA.   Il musicista che muove la manovella non gira semplicemente la ruota con movimento regolare ma, quando serve, deve sollevare ciascuna corda dalla ruota per escluderla dall’esecuzione, appoggiandola a lato sul ponticello o alzandola temporaneamente con un dito. Così l’esecuzione diventa ancora più ricca e più varia da un punto di vista armonico.

Giuseppe Severini



  1. Per i legami culturali fra Parigi, Chartres e Santiago de Compostela si veda. Serafin Moraeljo, Marco historico y contexto liturgico en la obra del Portico de la Gloria e Jose Lopez-Calo, La musica en la Catedral de Santiago, A.D.1188, in: El Portico de la Gloria. Musica, Arte y pensamento. “Cuadernos de Musica en Compostela II” Santiago de Compostela, 1988.
  2. Eastwood Bruce S. Ordering the Heavens. Roman astronomy and cosmology in the Carolingian renaissance. Brill, 2007, pp. 221-22, 314-15.                     Théon de Smyne. Philosophe platonicien. Paris, Hachette, 1892. In questa opera si trovano elencate le 11 quaterne in cui si struttura la natura dell’Universo.
  3. Dodici nella tradizione pitagorica e platonica in: J.B. Kennedy, The musical structure of Plato’s dialogues, Acumen, 2011.                               Cosmogonie e cosmologie nel medioevo. Atti del convegno della S:I:S:P:M: Catania, 22-24 ottobre 2006.
  4. Martello Concetto, Platone a Chartres. Palermo, Officina di studi Medievali, 2011, pag.86
  5. Christian Rault, La reconstitution de l’organistrum. Christian Rault, Santiago de Compostela, 1993.
  6. F.Luengo, op.cit in nota 1.

Martedì, 22 Novembre 2016 14:10

Vielle ovale de Graville

Reconstitution d’une vièle ovale d’après une sculpture du 12ème siècle de l’Abbaye de Graville au Havre, Normandie.Par Giuseppe Severini, luthier sicilien.

La sculpture :
La petite sculpture (30x35x20cm) en pierre blanche, abîmée à gauche, a été retrouvée, après la guerre, dans les ruines de la tour centrale. On ne connaît pas sa position initiale et on pense qu'elle est de la fin du 11ème siècle.Toute la composition et même l'instrument sont inspirés par la forme ovale.La figure entière est inscrite dans un ovale, la tête, les yeux, la bouche ovale, l'instrument a une caisse ovale, l'une des ouïes est une demi-lune et l'autre a une forme presque ovale.La figure est très bien modelée, les traits fins, gracieux, on dirait qu'elle a quelque chose de féminin et de lunaire.
La reconstitution de l'instrument
Les bois :J'ai choisi deux qualités de bois qu'on pourrait aisément retrouver en Normandie au11ème siècle: sapin et hêtre.Sapin (très vieux et avec des taches pour rappeler la surface de la lune) pour le corps de l'instrument: table d'harmonie, éclisses, manche et chevilles.Hêtre pour le fond.
Un instrument creux :
Puisque les instruments au Moyen Âge n'avaient pas d'âme, la résonnance est premièrement due à la table d'harmonie, le fond ayant pour fonction de refléter le son.J'ai donc creusé l'instrument dans du sapin à partir de la table d'harmonie car c’est la partie la plus importante de la vièle, d’une épaisseur d’environ trois millimètres, sans aucun barrage.Le manche est creusé dans la même planche, même s’il est un peu plus haut que la table.Les flancs son concaves. Le fond en hêtre est creusé, arrondi à l'intérieur comme à l'extérieur, l'épaisseur est d’à peu près trois millimètres.
Les ouïes :
Dans la sculpture, on voit que les deux ouïes ne sont pas symétriques, l’une en forme de demi-lune, l'autre presque rectangulaire, creusée plus bas sur l'autre moitié de la table. On pourrait penser que l'auteur a voulu faire ce perçage bizarre pour une raison de perspective, mais j'ai pensé qu'il a reproduit un instrument réel, fait de cette façon.Y-a-t-il d’autres exemples de cette asymétrie sur les vièles médiévales ? NON.Mais il y a d'autres instruments de musique avec des perçages asymétriques, certaines harpes, des psaltérions et des monocordes.
Quelle pourrait être la motivation de cette asymétrie ?Donner au musicien une ouïe (plus petite) plus proche de son oreille ou, proposition presque hérétique, pour placer une âme au-dessous du chevalet ...Après réflexion, j'ai décidé de faire les deux ouïes exactement comme elles sont représentées sur la sculpture.
La touche, le cheviller, le cordier :
La touche est un petit morceau de buisde 2mm d'épaisseur, collé sur le manche.Le cheviller est hexagonal, comme dans les vièles de Boscherville.Le cordier est en buis.
Le vernis :
Je n’ai employé aucun vernis. On sait qu’à l'époque il n'y avait pas de gomme-laque, aussi, pour protéger le bois, j'ai employé de l'huile d'amande pure.
Les cordes :
Les cordes sont en boyau de mouton.J'ai choisi de faire un accord complexe avec deux chœurs et un bourdon. Les chœurs sont accordés à l'unisson ou en quartes.
LA ré/ré la/la
LA la/ré mi/la
Le deuxième accord est le plus convenable pour une exécution polyphonique de musique sacrée, comme suggéré par le caractèrede la sculpture.

Giuseppe Severini, Randazzo, Sicile, juin 2016.



Giovedì, 27 Ottobre 2016 15:34

Aeolian harp

WARNING: this is NOT a musical instrument !!! It is not an instrument YOU or ANYONE can play, but an object only WIND can play properly. You make a sound box, you stretch nylon strings on it, you tune them all at the same pitch (you can tune some of the strings one octave lower or higher, or even at a fifth OR fourth) and then put this object in a place where the wind can blow, for exemple very close to your window slightly open. You will hear marveillous unexpected sounds coming from the strings, apparently absolutely still. These particular subtle sounds are the natural overtones, part of every sound we hear but hidden inside them, as usual. The wind harp works with sound as the prism does with light: it shows a clear analysis of sound in its components, as prism does with white light projecting the different colours in the air (the Rainbow). If you don't want to make your own soundbox by yourself you can take an old classical guitar and put on it all nylon strings the same size tuned at the same pitch and you will get approximately the same goal! Or you can hear them in House of music and lutherie Randazzo, in windy days..


Mercoledì, 26 Ottobre 2016 08:45

Harmonic planetarium

At the House of Music and Lutherie in Randazzo, a little medieval village on mount Etna, you can also see, and listen to !, a reproduction of Cosmos according to Pythagoras, Plato and Aristoteles. Each planet and the stars have a sound of the diatonic major scale (Dorico). The stars have C all together, then you find Saturn on D , Juppiter E, Mars F, the Sun G (the fifth, the major consonant interval), Venus A, Mercury B and the Moon on C. So you fulfil a whole octave. And our Earth? It is still in the middle and receives all harmony and light from outer space. Some differences are among the ideas od Pythagoras, Plato and Aristoteles about Universe, but all their contributions are illustrated in this model and you can even listen to the magic sounds of the "Cosmic Lyre" through strings streched at the right distances to reproduce the famous "Music of the Spheres" !

Lunedì, 24 Ottobre 2016 16:52

Barbitos un instrument de l'ancienne grèce

Cet instrument, récemment reconstitué, a été representé très souvent sur les vases greques à partir du IV siècle a.C. On le voit dans les mains de jeunes hommes ou femmes et de Faunes ou de Satyres. Carachteristique la caisse en tortue, la table d'harmonie en peau de chèvre ou de poisson et sourtout les cordes très longues, comparées à celles de la Lyre. On joue cet instrument avec un plectre en os ou ivoire. Les greques d'Athèns consideraient barbare le Barbiton et disaient que n'était pas convenable au moeurs des citoyens cultivés, mais propre des habitants des iles. est un peu difficile à jouer car les cordes sont vraiment longues et le son très grave. Peut etre que le Barbiton était employé dans des contextes particuliers, de dance et d'ivresse, avec des executions principalement rithmiques.

Sabato, 22 Ottobre 2016 17:49

Luthier's workshop

At the first floor of our XIII century House of music and lutherie you can visit the luthier's workshop, where he makes new instruments, as usual replicas of ancient ones, or even reparation and restoration of old violins, mandolins, guitars and other stringed instruments as well. The workshop is really small so the luthier moves outside in the quiet street carrying out his desk,to  work in the open air as they used in the old times. Many different kinds of wood are used to carve the marveillous medieval Viols, Citoles, Lyres, Harps, Psaltery, such as Cypres, Pine, Spruce, Chestnut, Walnut, Maple and Cherrytree. There are many tools around, mainly knives, gauges and saws, there are moulds to make Lutes, then colours, varnish, hide-glue. In some boxes there are pieces of bone and mother of pearl and rare woods to make precious inlays. Main decorations are  sculpted directly in the body of the instruments, which at last are equipped with gut strings or bronze, iron, brass strings,  depending on the characteristics of each one.


Venerdì, 21 Ottobre 2016 21:37

Reconstitution d'une viele ovale

Au mois de juin du 2016 j'ai presenté au Havre ma reconstitution de la petite vièle ovale du XII siècle gardée au Musée du Prieuré de Graville.

L'instrument à eté creusé dans un bloc de Sapin pour faire la table d'harmonie, les flancs, la manche et le cheviller, le fond étant creusé dans une planchette d'Etre et depuis collé au premier.

Les ouies ont etés reproduites fidèlement d'apres l'original, bien qu'elles soient fort hors de symétrie.

Le cheviller a eté fait comme on le voit dans les vièles des sculptures de l'Abbaye de Boscherville. Les cordes en boyeau sont cinq: un bourdon grave et deux choeurs ou à l'unisson ou en quartes, pour jouer des polyphonies primitives (Organa).

Cette reconstitution a etè commandèe par l'Association Les Prieurales de Graville. Je remercie tous les amis des Prieurales, sourtout Francois Montaufray et sa femme Babette.


Venerdì, 21 Ottobre 2016 20:34

Music and astronomy

Since Prehistory man has felt close relationship between Music and Astronomy, between sounds and stars.Prehistoric horn with 28 marks on it shows the object was considered a symbol of moon, and animal horns were music instruments too. Same shape have harps from Ancient Egypt. Conkshells were also used as musical instruments: in their shape the origins of universe from a whirlpool in the primitive Ocean.

And so on until Pythagoras and Plato. They found all instruments already done and perfectly working, and they studied the idea of Harmony, its numerical structure. So they found analogies between the seven notes and the seven planets, they thought that musical harmony, perfectly calculated and firmly established on permanent ratios, could explain the perfect balance and regularity of cosmic mechanism. Filolao and Architas calculated the first music scales and Plato mede the first attempt to define the imagine of what will be said: Music of the spheres, in his outstanding work: Timaeus. In this book, as in other parts of his large production (see Fedone and Repubblica) he describes both human Soul and Univers structure as a sequence of singing etheric bowls one inside the other.

This idea had a very long life, and arrived through the MiddleAges to Renaissance and ended with Johannes Kepler, its last outstanding supporter.



Giovedì, 20 Ottobre 2016 20:43

Medieval lute close to the House

We are glad to show you a little medieval sculpture, about 100 feet from our House of Music, in which you can see a real medieval lute with five strings (or courses).Unfortunately neck and head are lacking. Anyway the Angel is looking directly towards the House... Is it by chance??!


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Virtual Tour

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Music Teory