Thursday, August 27, 2009
16th Century music on carving
Markings on a 16th Century carving from Stirling Castle could be the oldest surviving piece of written Scottish instrumental music, historians believe. A sequence of 0s, Is and IIs have been found on one of the Stirling Heads - wooden medallions which would have decorated the castle's royal palace. It is believed the music could have been played on instruments such as harps, viols, fiddles and lutes. An experienced harpist has been trying to play the tune. The markings would not have been an exact musical score, but would have given guidance to players who then improvised. There are earlier examples of written music in Scotland, but they were composed for choirs rather than an instrumental band.
Barnaby Brown, a lecturer at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) who specializes in early Scottish music, said the find could be very enlightening. "This discovery is potentially of great significance to our understanding of medieval and Renaissance instrumental music - the normally 'unwritten' practice of the elite court professional," he said.