The dulcimer takes its name from the Latin word dolcis, meaning sweet; it was so-called because it was considered to make a sweet sound. The dulcimer is played with little sticks, or hammers, which are used to strike the strings. The hammers are made of wood, with the tips covered in leather to soften the tone. The strings are made of metal, brass being the material most likely used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
hear this being played
Hurdy Gurdy
The hurdy gurdy is a form of mechanical violin, in which a continuously turning wheel takes the place of the bow. Keys are used instead of fingers to stop the strings, and to produce a tune. The hurdy gurdy also has drone strings, which play one continuous note (and sound something like bagpipes). While turning the wheel, the player can produce a buzzing sound to beat out the rhythm of the piece, as if playing on a drum.
hear this being played
The lute is thought to have developed from an Arab instrument called the ‘al ٔūd’, as indeed is its name. The word ٔūd simply means ‘wood’, the material from which the instrument is made. The lute was one of the most important musical instruments in Europe, from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century — used for solos, and to accompany other instruments or voice.
hear this being played
Plucked Wire
While the lute was strung in gut, a number of other plucked instruments — such as the orpharion, cittern and English guitar — were strung in brass or iron.
Both recorders and flutes were extremely popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The flute in particular is an instrument of great antiquity, and dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks.