Peter Bull gives solo performances of historical music on a wide variety of period instruments including the hurdy gurdy, recorder and flute, dulcimer, bagpipes, cittern and lute. His repertoire ranges from the 13th to the 19th century. As well as giving formal and informal concerts, he performs at banquets, pageants, weddings, private parties, and living history events.
He has appeared regularly at the Tower of London and at Hampton Court Palace with the historical interpreters Past Pleasures. He has also performed at many historical properties throughout England, in the care of the National Trust and English Heritage.
The gittern dates back to the early Middle Ages. It was made of one piece of wood, strung with gut, and plucked with a quill. This instrument is based one of the very few surviving original examples, made in around 1450 by Hans Ott in Nuremberg (Germany). In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer describes how the parish clerk Absalom serenaded a woman outside her window on his gittern, which he also used to play in taverns.
This dulcimer has been reconstructed from a 15th century Italian painting entitled The Virgin and Child by Giovanni Boccati, a famous artist who flourished between 1445 and 1480. It has only one set of strings, which cross over a central bridge.
This is the dulcimer as it might have been in the 16th century. It has two set of strings: each crosses over one of the two bridges and under the other bridge. The modern folk dulcimer is essentially the same as this instrument, but strung in piano wire (high tension steel), rather than brass.