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by David Lasocki

King Juan I (b. 1350) ruled the Crown of Aragón—a confederation formed from the Kingdom of Aragón, the County of Barcelona (Catalonia), and the Kingdom of Valencia, in north-east Spain—from 1387 to 1396.  On 23 July 1378, when he was still the Crown Prince, Juan wrote the following letter from his political capital of Zaragoza to his chamberlain, Petro d’Artes:

I certify to you that Matheu, our tragitador, is going under our license to the city of Valencia, and as he is very good at making harps, we want him to ask Ponç, who makes lutes, that with the counsel and assistance of the said Matheu he will make us a double harp, and provided that he works every day until the said harp is finished, and I anticipate that it will be necessary for him to do that, and the said Matheu bring it to us, and send us the lutes and the flahutes as quickly as possible.[1]

Valencia was about 200 miles (300 kilometers) further south within the Crown of Aragón.  Doubtless Ponç had made the lutes, which, like the flahutes, seem to have been ordered earlier.  But it is not spelled out in this letter or the ensuing receipt whether the flahutes had also been made by him or someone else in his workshop, or perhaps had even been obtained elsewhere.  In any case, when the instruments arrived, Juan wrote to d’Artes again and declared that he had received them “to my complete satisfaction.”[2] Let us explore the implications of this letter.


The Flute Family in Aragón

Terms for members of the flute family go back to the early fourteenth century in Aragonese sources.  The registers of the Crown Prince Jaime (son of Jaime II) record payments to “Berthomeu de les Praguergnes and Ramon de Fraga, jutglar de flauta” in 1312 and “Jacme, juglar de flauta and Pero ... juglar de rebeba” the following year.[3] “Jacme Costa, juglar de flauta,” perhaps the same man, turned up as a visitor at the Court in 1345.  At the coronation of Alfonso IV “el Benigno” in 1328, the chronicler and trumpeter Ramon Muntaner noted:

axi altre no gosaua caualcar ab ells, ans cascu sen anaua axi ab trompes e ab tabals e ab flautes e ab sembes, e ab molts daltres instruments; quen veritat vos dich, que mes de CCC pareylls de trompes hi hauia[4]

No others dared to ride with them, but everyone was going like this, with trumpets and with drums and with flautes and with cymbals and with many other instruments: I truly tell you that more than three hundred pairs of trumpets were there.

During Alfonso’s brief reign (1327–36), the Court employed “Pedro Abril, el juglar de flauta, que fascina y ennoblece las almas” (the jongleur of the flauta, which fascinates and ennobles the soul).[5] In 1349, during the long reign of Pedro IV “el Ceremonioso” (1336–87), a man named Bernat was paid for “fittings and ferrules of silver that he makes for two flahutes de bahanya,” to be given to two juglars de cornamusa of the Court, Guillelmi Veguer and Ugoni de la Pelliça.[6] Bahanya means “animal horn,” and the term occurs once more in Court records: in 1394 Juan I wrote to one Bernardo de Penavera, commanding that he give the king the ciulet de banya de unicorn (whistle of unicorn horn) in his possession, and thus “do service to us which we will take as agreeable.”[7] Of course, a real unicorn horn would be infinitely rare; this one was presumably ivory.

The flauta is mentioned in a Spanish literary source of the mid-fourteenth century.  The Libro de buen amor by Juan Ruiz, Arcipreste de Hita (rev. 1343; earliest surviving manuscript dated 1368), links the instrument with the tabor played by joglares:


Con muchos estrumentes salen los atabores....

La flauta diz con ellos, más alta que un risco,

Con ella el taborete: sin él non vale un prisco.[8]


With many instruments depart the drums....

The flauta among them, higher [sharper] than a bluff,

And the small drum with it, without which it is not worth a farthing.


Furthermore, the poem distinguishes the flauta from the axabeba, a term derived from the Arabic shabbāba, which scholars have generally taken to be the transverse flute, introduced to Spain by the Moors in the eighth century, although the word is used today for an obliquely held rim-blown flute made out of cane.[9]

Thus in Aragón juglars (cognate with what the French called jongleurs) tended to play the flauta, which in a manuscript from nearby Guadalajara is identified with tabor pipe.  But flahute or flaute was also employed, so, as in all linguistic matters, the terminology was not clear-cut.  Because the Aragón Court was highly influenced by everything French, it may be significant that the French language used flaüte/flahüte to mean tabor pipe.  Then, as we will see, probably by the late fourteenth century, and certainly by the early fifteenth, flaüte in French began to shift its spelling to fleute and its meaning to recorder.  Therefore, it may again be significant that Juan chose the term flahutes rather than flautas for the instruments he had ordered, and French influence may also be suggested.  More significance may be attached to him ordering more than one flahute and at the same time as lutes.

Finally, clear depictions of the recorder begin to show up in art from Aragón around the 1380.  Two similar works of art attributed to the Aragonese painter Pere Serra (fl. 1357–1405) depict clear and remarkable recorders.[10] Not clear, however, is their exact dating.  Only two works are securely documented as by him with dates (1394 and 1395), neither work containing duct flutes; all other attributions and dates by art historians are based on stylistic considerations.[11] Que Serra Serra!

The central panel of the altarpiece La Virgen con el Niño, painted for the monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès, now a suburb of Barcelona, has been estimated at around 1385.[12] The Virgin Mary with baby Jesus on her knee are surrounded by six angels playing harp, lute, gitttern, organetto, psaltery, and recorder.  The cylindrical recorder has eight finger-holes in line higher up the instrument than the whole of the player’s lower (left) hand, below which one of the paired finger-holes for the little finger is visible.  A similarly posed group, playing the same six instruments, is depicted in an altarpiece painted for the cathedral of Santa Clara, Tortosa (actually in nearby El Baix Ebre), between Barcelona and Valencia, around 1385, although recent scholarship suggests it could have been as late as 1400.[13]

In research on the Middle Ages, nothing is certain; but all things considered, Juan had almost certainly bought a set of recorders.[14]


Juan and his Minstrels

As a child of a mere sixteen months, Juan he had already been assigned two juglars for his own service who played the cornamusa (bagpipe), the favorite instrument of his father, Pedro IV.[15] Juan loved the cornamusa so much that an elaborately decorated one was ordered for him when he was three years old from a Barcelona maker, presumably as a plaything.[16] In 1367, he was given his own pair of musicians, who played cornamusa and trumpet.[17] After he got married for the first time, to the French infanta Juana de Valois, at the age of 21 in 1371, Juan hired for his personal service four musicians—now for the first time at Court called “minstrels”: Thomasi (Tomasinus de Xaumont, probably Chaumont in France), Tibaut (Tibaldus de Barrenes), Jacomi (Jacobinus de Bar, in France), and Lupi (Luppus tibalerius, piper?),[18] “from France and other countries.”[19]

Their contract introduced the term coblas de ministriles (associations of minstrels) to the Court.  This particular cobla was based on the duo of Thomasi, shawm, and Jacomi, cornamusa, with the other two minstrels presumably adding an accompaniment of other instruments, not necessarily all winds, although their eventual replacements, Johani de Sent Luch (Saint-Luc in France) and Jacomi Capeta, both played the shawm.[20] Recall that Juan remained the Crown Prince until 1387, so he had not yet taken the throne during most of the activity we are discussing in this section.

Thomas III, marquis of Saluzzo (Savoy, in the mountains between France and Italy), wrote in his Le chevalier errant (1394): “The King of Aragón and the Aragonese appeared to me very arrogant.  They belittled all the great princes in the surrounding area, judging themselves very superior to everyone; their king was among them, distracting himself by watching and listening to the jongleurs and minstrels.”[21] Pere Tomich in his history of Aragón (1438) wrote more neutrally about Juan: “and he had at his Court many coblas of all kinds of minstrels dancing and singing to amuse himself.”[22]

Reporting more than a century after the fact (1495–1513), another chronicler of Aragón, Pere Miquel Carbonell, noted of Juan: “His biggest concern was to order the search around the world for the best minstrels to be found, strings as well as winds and singers, so that they would play and sing in his presence three times a day—that is, one in the morning, another at noon, and another in the afternoon; and he wanted this rule to be observed every day of the week.  And before going to bed, he would command the young men and maidens to dance and amuse themselves in his presence, except on Fridays.”[23]

Did Juan play instruments himself, like some monarchs of England?  The only surviving evidence of his own musical ability is that, “helped by my singers,” who had been newly recruited from the Papal Court in Avignon, he composed a three-voice rondeau in 1380.[24] Note that it was singers, not minstrels, who taught him to compose.[25] The equivalence of singers and composers is also implied in another letter Juan wrote to Avignon in 1379: “Similarly, we want you to help make a book for us in which are notated fifteen to twenty motets as well as the flower of ballades, rondeaux, and virelais, and ask the singers of the Pope to make it, since they know quality the best, and send it as soon as it is ready by a trusted messenger.”[26]


Minstrel Schools

Between about 1313 and 1447, a highly effective mechanism of communication existed among minstrels internationally: the so-called minstrel “schools.”[27] Rob Wegman observes: “These were not schools in the modern sense but international assemblies, the counterpart of conferences or trade fairs in our time.”[28] They were held roughly annually during Lent—a season when secular music stopped being performed everywhere[29]—in cities in France, the Low Countries, and occasionally England and Germany, presumably organized by urban minstrel guilds and confraternities.

Attendees came from cities and courts in the same countries and as far away as Greece and Spain, returning home by Easter.  Maricarmen Gómez Muntané has suggested that permanent music schools may have been located in Flanders, too[30]; and perhaps woodwind makers were also located permanently in Flanders at this time.

The purposes for such schools are documented as learning the craft, purchasing instruments, recruiting new minstrels, and above all learning “new songs,” presumably including the sense of “pieces.”[31] The Limburg Chronicle, written by the notary and town clerk Tilemann Elhen von Wolfhagen from 1378 to 1398, records many instances of “new songs” played on shawms and trumpets and sung by the people.[32]

Wegman writes: “if minstrels were prepared to travel hundreds of miles each year to learn new songs, then musical novelty must have been at a very high premium in their profession, much more so, one assumes, than among singers and composers.  Since the minstrel school was attended by musicians from nearly all countries, it allowed new songs to become instant hits, and new styles of playing and singing to break through almost overnight.”[33] The same would have been true of new instruments.

Minstrels from Aragón attended schools in Germany (1352), unknown (1371), Flanders (1372), Bruges (1373), Flanders (1374), Bourg-en-Bresse (1377), Bruges (1378), Flanders (1379), unknown (1381, 1382, 1383), France/Germany (1386), unknown (1388), France (1389), and unknown (1390, 1415).[34]

One of the things that Juan’s minstrels did at the schools was learn new pieces.  When they returned, they taught the pieces to other local minstrels, as documented in his letters.  For example, he wrote on 1 August 1377 to Alfonso I, duke of Gandia, his cousin, about “Johani, our minstrel ... since he is just back from the schools, we want him to teach your minstrels all the new songs (cançons) he learned.”[35] In addition, Juan wrote to the duke on 1 March 1378, just before his minstrels went to the schools again, “Our minstrels have taught yours six new songs, and when our said minstrels have returned from the schools, send yours again and ours will show them our instruments.  This way, we will deliver to them two shawms, two cornamusas, one large and one small museta, a small shawm, and a bombard.”[36] Here we see that not only was Juan obtaining instruments from the schools, he was passing them on to a neighboring monarch’s minstrels.

In May 1377, Juan heard and hired a 20-year-old shawm player, Jacomi Capeta, and was so excited that he prepared for the advent of this virtuoso by asking all the wind instruments to be checked out and repaired, then ordered new harps, rebecs, lutes, and a kettledrum (timbal).[37] Juan’s taste was fickle, so by the end of the year Capeta had been sent to Juan’s brother Martin’s service, and Juan acquired another shawm player, Johani Estrumant, previously in the service of the Count of Flanders, Johani Estrumant.

Thus it was that in spring 1378, the year that Juan bought flahutes, he sent six men to the minstrel schools in Bruges: the cobla consisting of Estrumant, shawm, Johani Coecre, cornamusa, Johani de Sent Luch, shawm, and Jaquet de Noyo, psaltery and fiddle[38]; plus Matheu (the harp maker, who was also a performer).[39] These minstrels returned tardily in August, to the music-loving Juan’s despair.  As early as 22 May he had to write to Martin: “Because the instruments of the Duchess's minstrels that are now here torment us when they are played, I beg you that your man bring us the musetes of yours that Tibaut, your minstrel, brought to you from Flanders this year.”[40] Note that these instruments were brought from Flanders, apparently independent of the minstrel schools.  In this connection, it was also to Flanders that Juan dispatched his best-ever shawm player Everli to buy instruments “of [a] new type” in 1388.[41]

On 30 July 1378, a week after Juan referred to an order for flahutes, and shortly before his own minstrels came back from the minstrel schools, he wrote a letter to Martin: “... we know that your minstrels, who have just returned from the schools, have brought with them many instruments, big and small [perhaps in the sense of haut and bas[42]], and we would be very grateful if, in case you think that listening to the big instruments would not be agreeable or fruitful, then, dear brother, we would kindly ask you to send us your minstrels, especially with the small instruments, although we would prefer that they bring all of them.”[43] This document once more shows that Juan was vitally interested in new instruments, which minstrels brought back from the schools.

Perhaps flahutes were among the new “small” instruments that Martin’s minstrels had brought back, but the timing shows that Juan could not yet have seen or heard them.  If flahutes of a new type had previously been made—even developed—in Valencia, within his own territory, surely Juan would have already known about them and been able to order them earlier.  His hurry to obtain the ones from Valencia may well have been because his minstrels were finally due home and now he could hear the instruments played.  In any case, by the time Juan’s minstrels returned to Aragón in August 1378, the flahutes had arrived at the Court.[44]



Who else but these minstrels could have played the flahutes?  Juan tells us himself that some singers also played instruments.  His father kept a steady number of six chantres—the French name for the singers suggesting they sang French Ars Nova Masses, and in any case they came from Avignon.  But Juan did not start organizing his own chapel until his second marriage, to the French noblewoman Yolanda de Bar, in August 1379.  At that time he hired eight singers, mostly French and mostly from Avignon, writing to his ambassador there: “and we want them to bring all the Mass chants notated in a book containing also motets, rondeaux, ballads, and virelais.... And let us know if they can play instruments too, and which ones, since we have all kinds of them....”[45] Juan’s new sister-in-law pronounced him “completely French.”[46]

We know the names of no fewer than twenty-six of Juan’s singers over the period 1379–96, but there is no surviving record of any instruments they might have played or any compositions they wrote.[47] And unfortunately, none of the fourteenth-century secular vocal repertoire has survived in Aragón.[48] Some Ars Subtilior music—the modern name for Ars Nova music of particular rhythmic and notational complexity—in the Chantilly Codex, compiled around 1375–95, was associated with Juan and his brother and successor, Martin, who may therefore have commissioned it for performance at Court.[49]


An Explanation

The best explanation I can think of for all this evidence is that Juan had already obtained a flahute: from a previous trip that his minstrels made to the schools, or else brought in by one of the many minstrels visiting the Court or a newly hired minstrel.  Estrumant, who had been working in Flanders, is an obvious possibility, given that woodwind instruments generally came from there.  Then Juan sent the instrument to Ponç and asked him to make several copies.  If such an instrument had been new to Ponç, then it would certainly have taken him a while to figure out how to make one well, especially if it had to be made in more than one size.  Recorder-making is significantly different from making stringed instruments in requiring skill with a lathe and reamers.

If Juan’s hurry suggests that he “seemed to like” the recorder, as one researcher put it,[50] we have no further evidence of his relationship to this instrument; and it was the shawm that he found “the most agreeable sound” of all instruments,[51] especially when it was accompanied by the cornamusa.[52] He went to enormous lengths to obtain the best lead shawm player he could, before and throughout his reign.[53] If these shawm players also played the recorder, as shawm players generally did in the following century, that would have been a bonus.  And it would help to explain why string players were sometimes members of coblas.[54]

The suggestion by a researcher that the recorder was developed in Avignon, from whence it would have made its way to Aragón, has not borne fruit.  Anthony Rowland-Jones observed that “Jaime and Pere Serra were influenced by Sienese painters, including Simone Martini and others who worked at Avignon, and perhaps the recorder was invented in the sophisticated musical ambience of the papal court there.”[55] Rowland-Jones went on to look for depictions of recorders in the Avignon art of the fourteenth century—without success.[56] One piece of evidence in favor of Avignon would have been Gómez Muntané’s report that a man named Pere Palau made both stringed instruments and recorders in that city in the late fourteenth century.[57] But Professor Gómez Muntané informs me she was just speculating that Palau made recorders, based on the model of Ponç in Valencia.[58]

How many flahutes would Juan have purchased in 1378 and what sizes were they?  The only pertinent evidence we have is from 1410, on the death of Juan’s younger brother Martin (b. 1356), who had ruled the Crown of Aragón since 1396.  His possessions were given to his widow, including “tres flautes, dues grosses e una negra petita.... dues flautes, una negra petita e 1 altra travessada” (three flautes: two large and one small black one... two flautes: one small black one and another transverse one).[59] Were the “black” instruments made of a dark hardwood, a sign of their great value, or perhaps covered in black leather?  The instruments listed first apparently constitute a set of three in two different sizes—the first clear reference to more than one size of recorder.  Martin strongly supported the royal chapel, but seems to have been less interested in minstrel music than Juan (despite having had his own minstrels as early as 1378), so the flautes could well have been those passed down from Juan.

Let us pause for a moment and consider a notable difference.  When minstrels wanted to learn new repertoire, they traveled to the minstrel schools, where they picked up the repertoire orally, later passing it on orally to other minstrels.  When singers wanted to learn new repertoire, they read the music, or composed some themselves.

So when the flahutes arrived in Zaragoza in August 1378, they were presumably handed to Juan’s minstrels, who were used to oral transmission of pieces and perhaps did not even read music.  Then the minstrels would have simply played their usual memorized repertoire on these new instruments.

Juan’s minstrels increased by seven in 1379, then were reduced to five, crept up to ten by 1382, and declined again to three by the commencement of his reign in 1387; then he immediately recruited more to make ten, after which documents about them are lacking.[60] No security of employment there!  But whenever instruments are mentioned, they are the same ones as before: shawm, cornamusa, bombard, and harp.


Theories and their Plausibility

Researchers have conjectured that Juan’s recorders, perhaps in conjunction with his lutes, were used to play the latest French chansons, that the recorder was developed for that very purpose, and that the practice of playing chansons on recorders might have spread from Aragón around Europe.[61] How plausible are these conjectures?

Certainly, instruments of the type of recorder with a tone as the lowest interval, readily chromatic, would have been helpful for playing such music—if such instruments already existed.  The surviving instruments from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries uniformly have a semitone as the lowest interval.[62] Even a set of three recorders in two sizes would have been capable of performing polyphony.  As Herbert W. Myers has observed, “Two sizes of recorder built a fifth apart would suffice for most written [three-part] polyphony of the [late fourteenth and] early fifteenth century; three sizes become necessary with the general adoption of the contratenor bassus, whose range is typically a fifth below that of the tenor.”[63]

Singers from Avignon, who could read the notation of Ars Nova and Ars Subtilior music, might have learned an instrument like the recorder, which needs no special embouchure, and used it to play chansons, with or alternating with voices, in Aragón.  And it has been proposed that, doubling at least the tenor, the recorder would have been able to help singers with their challenge noted by one writer in 1434: “it becomes most difficult to keep the notes at the right pitch for a long time, even for one song.”[64] The singers might have even taught the minstrels to play chansons by rote—which would not have been a stretch for minstrels used to oral transmission—or from the notation—which would have been something new for them.  We even have a beautiful quotation from the Court of Savoy—but one hundred years later!—showing that such things happened: in 1479 a singer was paid “for having shown chansons to the minstrels of the said Lord.”[65] It is worth noting that as well as chansons Juan of Aragón obtained motets for his singers.  Although no researcher has suggested the possibility that his singers played motets on recorders, that would have been as plausible as singers playing chansons.

No less a figure than Guillaume de Machaut provides some relevant evidence about the instrumental performance of chansons.  In a poetic letter written in 1363–65, he observes about his ballade Nes qu’on porroit, “... I beg you to be willing to hear and learn the piece exactly as it has been written without adding to or taking away any part ... and whoever could arrange [it] for the organ, bagpipes, or other instruments, that is its very nature.”[66] The Machaut expert Lawrence Earp comments: “In our current view, this does not mean an ensemble of instruments literally playing the written music, but some kind of creative rearrangement, and thus not ‘exactly as it has been written,’ because that segment of the musical practice [i.e., instrumental performance] was carried on in a largely unwritten tradition.”[67]

One suggestive piece of evidence in favor of recorders playing at least some vocal music is that, as early as 1385, in a nuptial Mass in Cambrai for the future John II of Burgundy, singers and flusteurs musicals performed—whether at the same time or alternately, we do not know.[68] Otherwise, we have no further evidence of vocal music being played on recorders until the Court of Burgundy in 1468.[69] Neither do we have evidence either for or against instruments—even stringed instruments such as the fiddle, lute, and harp—taking part in French secular chansons at the same time as the voices.[70]

As for the idea that playing chansons on recorders might have spread from Aragón: if such a practice existed in 1378–79, or developed soon afterwards, more likely it originated in Burgundy or Avignon, especially given that Juan of Aragón was pronounced “completely French.”

In sum, unless more evidence is discovered, although recorders may have been used to play arrangements of chansons (and motets), the rest of the chanson theory and its relationship to the development of the recorder remain a series of “mights.”


This article is based on a draft section of the chapter “Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries” in The Recorder by David Lasocki with Nikolaj Tarasov and Robert Ehrlich (London & New Haven: Yale University Press, forthcoming).  David Lasocki appreciates the inestimable help he received in researching the article from Maricarmen Gómez Muntané, Nicholas Lander, Ana López Suero, Herbert Myers, Vicente Parrilla, and Keith Polk.



[1].  “Certificam vos que Matheu, tragitador nostre, va de licencia nostra a la cuitat de Valencia, e com ell s fort be en fer arpes, volum e us manam que digats a Ponç qui fa los lahuts, que ab consell e acort del dit Matheu nos faça una arp doble, e provehits que sien tots dies ensemps sus aço entro que la dita arpa sie acabada, e bestrets hi vos ço que mester faça, e fets la luirar al dit Matheu que la ns aport, e trametet nos los lahuts e los flahutes al pus breu que porets.”  Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, reg. 1745, f. 138v; transcribed in María del Carmen Gómez Muntané, La música en la casa real catalano-aragonesa durante los años 1336–1442 (Barcelona: Antoni Bosch, 1979), I, 182, doc. 171; see also Jordi Ballester, “La flauta dulce en la antigua corona de Aragón a finales del siglo XIV: nuevas aportaciones,” Revista de flauta de pico, no. 15 (2000): 11.

[2].  The receipt of 10 August 1378 reads: “Vostra letra havem reebuda e los lahuts e les flahutes que tremeses nos havets de que.ns tenim per servits” (I have received your letter and the lutes and flahutes you sent, all to my complete satisfaction).  Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, reg. 1745, f. 145; Maricarmen Gómez Muntané, email message to the author, 4 February 2008.

[3].  From ACA (Cancillera rea, tesoreria); Maricarmen Gómez Muntané, email message to the author, 19 February 2008.

[4].  Ramon Muntaner, Crònica, chapter 296; Chronik des edlen En Ramon Muntaner, hrsg. von Karl Lanz (Stuttgart: gedruckt auf Kosten des literarischen Vereins, 1844), 540.

[5].  José Ma. Lamaña, “Estudio de los instrumentos musicales en los últimos tiempos de la dinastía de la casa de Barcelona,” Miscellanea Barcinonensia, no. 22 (August 1969): 44.

[6]. “Al honrat micer Bernat etc. Mana lo dit senyor Rey que donets an Guillelmi Veguer e an Ugoni de la pelliça, juglars de cornamusa de casa sua, los quals lurs mana donar a ops de guarnir e de viroles d argent que fa fer a II flahutes de bahanya, quadragiintos solidos barc.”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 130, 12 June 1349.  These two juglars are recorded at the Court 1345–53; ibid., 30.

[7]. “Com haiam entes que vos havets un ciulet de banya de unicorn, manam vos que, vistes les presents, nos portets lo dit ciulet o l nos trametats per persona certa, certifficants vos que ns farets servey lo qual haurem per agradable.”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 169, 16 March 1394.

[8].  Juan Ruiz, Arcipreste de Hita, Libro de buen amor, ed. Marcella Ciceri (Modena: Mucchi, 2002), 287–88 (verses 1227, 1230, 1233).

[9]Grove Music Online, s.v. “Spain, §1, 1: Art music: Early history,” and “Shabbāba.”  See also Antonio Torralba, “Reflexiones (casi en forma de pregunta) sobre las flautas en la Edad Media. Capitulo primero: ¿Qué era la ajabeba?,” Revista de flauta de pico, no. 7 (January 1997): 27–30.

[10].  Anthony Rowland-Jones, “La flauta de pico en el arte catalán. 1a Parte: Alrededor de 1400: la  ‘invención’ de la flauta de pico,” Revista de flauta de pico, no. 6 (October 2006): 15–20; “Iconography in the History of the Recorder up to c.1430,  Part 1,” Early Music 33, no. 4 (November 2005): 564; “Iconography in the History of the Recorder up to c.1430, Part 2,” Early Music 34, no. 1 (2006): 18–19.

[11].  Cèsar Favà Monllau, curator of medieval art, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, email message to the author, 13 October 2016.  See also Francesc Ruiz y Quesada, “Pere Serra,” in Rosa Alcoy I Pedrós, ed., L’Art gòtic a Catalunya.  Pintura I: De l’inici a l’italianisme (Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana, 2005): 284–96.

[12].  Barcelona, Museu Diocesà; see; accessed 25 September 2016; Rowland-Jones, “El arte catalán, 1a parte,” 19–20.

[13].  Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Inv. 003950-000;; accessed 26 September 2016.  Dating from the museum’s website.  Rowland-Jones, “El arte catalán, 1a parte,” 20, reports a dating between 1375 and 1390.  For a more recent suggestion of a dating closer to 1400, see Cèsar Fàva, “La Mare de Déu dels Angels de Tortosa i el seu pas per l’àmbit privat,” Porticvm: Revista d’Estudis Medievals, no. 2 (2011): 68–89.

[14].  As first suggested by Ballester, “Flauta dulce,” 11.

[15].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 32.

[16]. ‘I cornamusa del senyor Infant que li feu guarnir de vellut vert ab senyals reyals et ab II timbres de fil d or e de argent.”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 130, doc. 6, March 1354.

[17].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 31–33.

[18].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 33.

[19].  “ad partes Francie et aliarum terrarum”; quoted in Higini Anglès, “El músic Jacomí al servei de Joan I i Martí I durant els anys 1372–1404,” in Homenatge a Antoni Rubió i Lluch: Miscellània d’estudis literaris històrics i lingüístics. (Barcelona: [s.n.], 1936), I, 613.

[20].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 34–35; Maria Carmen Gómez, “Musique et musiciens dans les chapelles de la maison royale d’Aragon (1336–1413),” Musica disciplina 38 (1984): 71.

[21].  “Au roi d’Aragon et ces Aragonais me paru[r]ent bien orgueilleux.  Ils faisaient peu de cas de tous les grand princes qui se trouvaient aux alentours, s’estimant très supérieurs à tout le monde, leur roi était parmi eux, se distrayant en regardant et en écoutant les jongleurs et les ménétriers.”  Thomas d’Aleran, Le chevalier errant, ed. Daniel Chaubet, Cahiers de Civilisation Alpine—Quaderni di Civiltà Alpina 15 (Turin: Centre d’études franco-italiennes—Centro di Studi franco-italiani, 2001), 271.

[22].  “E tenia en la sua cort moltes cobles de ministres de totes maneras per haver plaer de dançare e cantar.”  Pere Tomich, Historias e conquestas dels excellentissims e Catholics Reys de Aragón e de lurs antecessors los Comtes de Barcelona (edition of 1534); facsimile with index by Juan Saez Rico, Textos Medievales 29 (Valencia: Anubar, 1970), 109.

[23]. “La maiorancia que en ell era si era en fer cercar perlo mon los pus abtes ministres que trobar se poguessen axi destruments de corda com de boca e xantres per que li sonassen e cantassen davant tres vegades al dia ço es una demati: e altra a migdia: e altra a vespre: e aquesta regla volia que fos servada cascun dia de la setmana: e ans ques gitas en lo lit voli efaea los donzells: e donzelles davant si dançar e solacar exceptats los divendres.”  Pere Miquel Carbonell, Chroniques de Espãya (Barcelona, 1546),  f. CCVI; see also Gómez Muntané, Mùsica en la casa real, I, 15, n. 8 (with a few transcription errors).

[24]. “... entrevenents alcuns dels nostres xantres, fahem I rondell notat ab sa tenor e contratenor e ab son cant....”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 200, doc. 229, 4 January 1380.

[25].  As pointed out by Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 92.

[26].  “Semblantment volem que ns façats fer un libre on sien notats de XV en XX motets e axi mateix que hi hage ballades, rondells et virelays que sien la flor, e fets lo fer als xantres del Papa car ells saben la flor d aço, e com sia fet, enviatas lo ns per persona certa.”  Ibid., 204, doc. 243, 18 May 1379.

[27].  See especially Rob C. Wegman, “The Minstrel School in the Late Middle Ages,” Historic Brass Society Journal 14 (2002): 11–30; and Maricarmen Gómez, “Minstrel Schools in the Late Middle Ages,” Early Music 18, no. 2 (May 1990): 212–16.

[28].  Wegman, “Minstrel School,” 11.

[29].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, I, 36.

[30].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 74.  She points out that Juan’s minstrels departed to the schools in June one year (1373); ibid., 134, doc. 17.

[31].  Wegman, “Minstrel School,” 18–24.

[32].  Wegman, “Minstrel School,” 15.

[33].  Wegman, “Minstrel School,” 13.

[34].  Wegman, “Minstrel School,” 18–23.

[35].  “Entes havem per letra de Johani, nostre ministrer.... e car poch fa ell sie vengut de les escoles, volem que el mostre als vostres ministrers de les cançons novelles que ell sap.”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 138, doc. 31, 1 August 1377.

[36].  “Los nostres ministrers han mostrades de nostre manament sis cançons novelles als vostres, e quant los dits nostres ministrers qui van ara a las escoles seran tornats, vos nos enviats los vostres e nos los farem moltes mostrar dels nostres esturments.  Car cosi, vos trametem per los dits vostres ministrers dues xalamies, dues cornamuses, una museta gran e altra poca, una xalamia poca e una bombarda.”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 141, doc. 39, 1 March 1378.

[37].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 34–35.

[38].  Jaquet de Noyo was a string minstrel, who was appointed “menestrel de rota e viola” to the Count of Virtut in 1383.  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 54–55.

[39].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 54, n. 14.

[40].  “Car los esturments dels ministrers de la Duquessa qui ara son aci dementre que ls toquen nos tabutxen lo cap, per ço vos pregam que per I hom vostre nos trametats les musetes vostres que Tibaut, ministrer vostre, vos aporta de Fflandres enguany....”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 141, doc. 41, 22 May 1378.

[41].   “... los havem tramesses en Fflandres per esturments de novella guisa....”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 160, doc. 102.  “... ls havem enviats en Fflandes per portar esturments novells....”  Ibid., 160, doc. 103.

[42].  Suggested by Gomez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 77.

[43]. “ ... som certs que la vostres ministrers, qui son de novell tornats de les escoles, han aduyts molts esturments grans e petits, e car nos siam cas vides que oir sonar esturments grans nos ns fos agradable ni profitos, per tant, frare car, vos pregam affectuosament que ns trametats los dits vostres ministrers especialment ab los dits esturments petits, be que amem mes que tots los aporten.”  Gómez Muntané, Música en el casa real, 142–43, doc. 45, 30 July 1378.

[44].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 36; 163, doc. 46, 27 August 1378.

[45]. “E vollem que aporten tot lo cant de la missa notat en un llibre on haia molts motets e rondells e ballades e virelays, pero guardat vos que no n haia alcun que haia servit al Duch d Anjou.  E fet nos saber si alcun d ells sab d esturments e de quins com nos de havem de moltes maneres....”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 198, doc. 223, 12 August 1379.

[46].  “era tot françes.”  Quoted in Gómez, “Musique et musiciens,” 71.

[47].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 89–91.

[48].  Ibid., 77.

[49].  See Grove Music Online, s.v. “Trebor,” by Yolanda Plumley; accessed 24 September 2016; Elizabeth Randell Upton, Music and Performance in the Later Middle Ages (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 84, 86; Gómez Muntané, Música en el casa real, 95, 99, 101; Gómez Muntané, “La musique à la maison royale de Navarre à la fin du Moyen-Âge et le chantre Johan Robert,” Musica disciplina 41 (1987): 109–51.

[50].  Rowland-Jones, “Iconography, Part 2,” 27.

[51]. “... be sens alcun ministrer de xalamia e a ades sie lo plus plasent so....”  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 147, doc. 59, 4 August 1379.

[52].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 34.

[53].  Gomez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 34–38.

[54].  Besides Jaquet de Noyo (1377–79), there were Galter de la viola (1382–83), Anequi de la arpa (1388), and Conxes de la viola (1390–95).  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 54–55.

[55].  Rowland-Jones, footnote to Howard Mayer Brown, “The Recorder in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,” in Cambridge Companion to the Recorder, 22, n. 8.  See also his “El arte catalán, 1a parte,” 16: “Teniendo en cuenta estas consideraciones, parece razonable conjecturar que la flauta de pico podria haber aparecido como respuesta a innovadoras demandas musicales en la corte de Aviñón.”

[56].  A “stop press” note added to Rowland-Jones, “Iconography, Part 2,” 27, reported the discovery of the recorder-playing angel in the Casanatense Missal (French, perhaps Avignon, ca. 1400).  But that is too late to support any invention theory for Avignon.

[57].  Liner notes to the CD Medée fu, performed by Tritonius XIV (Verso, VRS 2005, 2001); also cited in Rowland-Jones, “Iconography, Part 1,” 572, n. 15.

[58].  Email message to the author, 14 July 2013.

[59].  Gómez Muntané, “El manuscrito M 971,” 210.

[60].  Gómez Muntané, Música en la casa real, 37–43.

[61].  Ballester, “Flauta dulce,” 11; Anthony Rowland-Jones, “The Invention of the Recorder,” The Recorder Magazine 36, no. 3 (autumn 2016): 80–81; Rowland-Jones, “Iconography, Part 2,” 21.

[62].  See David Lasocki, “Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries,” in Lasocki, et al., The Recorder (London & New Haven: Yale University Press, in preparation).

[63].  Herbert W. Myers, “Flutes,” in Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music, 380.

[64].  “Sed certe difficilissimum fit diu vel pro cantilena una costantes quantitate sua voces continere.”  Giorgio Anselmi, De Musica (1434), quoted and translated in Timothy J. McGee, The Sound of Medieval Song: Ornamentation and Vocal Style according to the Treatises (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 168, 114.  Proposal in Rowland-Jones, “Invention of the Recorder,” 80.

[65].  “10 Juillet 1479 …. A Villaige, chantre, ledit jour, une canne et demye dudit gris [drap gris], à ledite raison, que le roy lui a donné pour avoir monstré des chansons aux menestrelz dudit seigneur …”  Abbé Gustav Arnaud d’Agnel, Les comptes du Roi René, III (Paris: A. Picard, 1910), 79.

[66].  “Si vous suppli que vous le daingniez oir, et savoir la chose einsi comme elle est faite sans mettre ne oster ... Et qui la porroit mettre sus les orgues, sus cornemuses, ou autres instrumens, cest sa droite nature....”  Guillaume de Machaut, Le Livre dou Voit Dit (The Book of the True Poem), ed. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, trans. R. Barton Palmer (New York & London: Garland, 1998), 73.

[67].  Lawrence Earp, “Reception,” in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Music, ed. Mark Everist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 367.

[68].  Rowland-Jones, “Iconography, Part 2,” 27, n. 65, objects that “It seems rather unlikely that the ‘flusteurs musicals’ at the wedding of Charles VI at Cambrai in 1385 would have made much impact alongside ‘molt brafs cantres’ (‘many splendid singers’) if they had been playing flûtes douces.”  But it seems to me even more unlikely that the musicians were playing transverse flutes instead.

[69]Mémoires d’Olivier de la Marche, Maître d’Hotel et Capitaine des Gardes de Charles le Téméraire, ed. Henry Baume & J. D’Arbaumont, III (Paris: Librairie Renouard; Vve. Henry Loones, successeur; Librairie de la Société de l’Histoire de France, 1885), 152–53.

[70].  Charles E. Brewer, “Lyric Forms post-1300. French Ars Nova,” in A Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music, ed. Ross W. Duffin (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 200.  See also Christopher Page, The English a cappella Heresy,” in Tess Knighton and David Fallows, ed., Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music (New York: Schirmer Books; Maxwell Macmillan International, 1992), 23–29.


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