The minstrels’ gallery of Exeter cathedral dates from the fourteenth century. The front is divided into twelve niches, each of which contains a winged figure or an angel playing on an instrument of music. The instruments are so much dilapidated that some of them cannot be clearly recognized; but, as far as may be ascertained, they appear to be as follows:—1. The cittern. 2. The bagpipe. 3. The clarion, a small trumpet having a shrill sound. 4. The rebec. 5. The psaltery. 6. The syrinx. 7. The sackbut. 8. The regals. 9. The gittern, a small guitar strung with catgut. 10. The shalm. 11. The timbrel; resembling our present tambourine, with a double row of gingles. 12. Cymbals.
The shalm, or shawm, was a pipe with a reed in the mouth-hole. The wait was an English wind instrument of the same construction. If it differed in any respect from the shalm, the difference consisted probably in the size only. The wait obtained its name from being used principally by watchmen, or waights, to proclaim the time of night. Such were the poor ancestors of our fine oboe and clarinet.