Of the little portable organ, known as the regal or regals, often tastefully shaped and embellished, some interesting sculptured representations are still extant in the old ecclesiastical edifices of England and Scotland. There is, for instance, in Beverley minster a figure of a man playing on a single regal, or a regal provided with only one set of pipes; and in Melrose abbey the figure of an angel holding in his arms a double regal, the pipes of which are in two sets. The regal generally had keys like those of the organ but smaller. A painting in the national Gallery, by Melozzo da Forli who lived in the fifteenth century, contains a regal which has keys of a peculiar shape, rather resembling the pistons of certain brass instruments. The illustration has been drawn from that painting. To avoid misapprehension, it is necessary to mention that the name regal (or regals, rigols) was also applied to an instrument of percussion with sonorous slabs of wood.
The British museum possesses a huayra-puhura consisting of fourteen reed pipes of a brownish colour, tied together in two rows by means of thread, so as to form a double set of seven reeds. Both sets are almost exactly of the same dimensions and are placed side by side. The shortest of these reeds measure three inches, and the longest six and a half. In one set they are open at the bottom, and in the other they are closed. Consequently, octaves are produced. The reader is probably aware that the closing of a pipe at the end raises its pitch an octave. Thus, in our organ, the so-called stopped diapason, a set of closed pipes, requires tubes of only half the length of those which constitute the open diapason, although both these stops produce tones in the same pitch; the only difference between them being the quality of sound, which in the former is less bright than in the latter.
Another curious wind-instrument of high antiquity, the cheng, is still in use. Formerly it had either 13, 19, or 24 tubes, placed in a calabash; and a long curved tube served as a mouth-piece. In olden time it was called yu.
The single flute was called monaulos, and the double one diaulos. A diaulos, which was found in a tomb at Athens, is in the British museum. The wood of which it is made seems to be cedar, and the tubes are fifteen inches in length. Each tube has a separate mouth-piece and six finger-holes, five of which are at the upper side and one is underneath.
The flute, aulos, of which there were many varieties, was a highly popular instrument, and differed in construction from the flutes and pipes of the ancient Egyptians. Instead of being blown through a hole at the side near the top it was held like a flageolet, and a vibrating reed was inserted into the mouth-piece, so that it might be more properly described as a kind of oboe or clarionet. The Greeks were accustomed to designate by the name of aulos all wind instruments of the flute and oboe kind, some of which were constructed like the flageolet or like our antiquated flûte à bec.
In the picture are two boys who are fond of music. One has a flute, which is made of bamboo wood. These flutes are easy to make, as bamboo wood grows hollow, with cross divisions at intervals. If you cut a piece with a division forming one end you need only make the outside holes in order to finish your flute.
The child sitting down has a drum. His drum and the paper lanterns hanging up have painted on them an ornament which is also the crest of the house of "Arima." If these boys belong to this family they wear the same crest embroidered on the centre of the backs of their coats.
Another of these guilds was the ancient company or fraternity of minstrels in Beverley, of which an account is given in Poulson’s “Beverlac”. When the fraternity originated we do not know; but they were of some consideration and wealth in the reign of Henry VI., when the Church of St. Mary’s, Beverley, was built.
The shepherds, throughout the Middle Ages, seem to have been as musical as the swains of Theocritus or Virgil; in the MS. illuminations we constantly find them represented playing upon instruments; we give a couple of goatherds from the MS. Royal 2 B vii. folio 83, of early fourteenth-century date.
In the illustration, reproduced from Mr. Wright’s “Domestic Manners of the English,” we have a curious picture of a dance, possibly in the gallery, which occupied the whole length of the roof of most fifteenth-century houses; it is from a MS. of fifteenth-century date.
In all these instances the minstrels are on the floor with the dancers, but in the latter part of the Middle Ages they were probably—especially on festal occasions—placed in the music gallery over the screens, or entrance-passage, of the hall.
Basset Horn: a wood-wind instrument, not a "horn," member of the clarinet family, of which it is the tenor. The basset horn consists of a nearly cylindrical tube of wood (generally cocus or box-wood), having a cylindrical bore and terminating in a metal bell wider than that of the clarinet.
Bassoon, a woodwind instrument with double reed mouthpiece, a member of the oboe (q.v.) family, of which it is the bass. The German and Italian names of the instrument were bestowed from a fancied resemblance to a bundle of sticks, the bassoon being the first instrument of the kind to be doubled back upon itself; its direct ancestor, the bass pommer, 6 ft. in length, was quite straight. The English and French names refer to the pitch of the instrument as the bass of the wood-wind.
The next step in the evolution produced the double curtail, a converted bass pommer an octave below the single curtail and therefore identical in pitch as in construction with the early fagotto in C. The instrument is shown the figure, the reproduction of a drawing in the MS. of The Academy of Armoury by Randle Holme, written some time before 1688.
Musicians accompanying the Dancing.--Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving in the "Orchésographie" of Thoinot Arbeau (Jehan Tabourot): 4to (Langres, 1588).