W4W: Why I love serpents, sacbuts and crumhorns

Angels singing

Image: Pixabay

Call me a bit weird (and many have) but I do lust after a lute: a serpent stirs me to sureptitious sighings: a dulcimer has me dancing with dizzy delight: I clammer to caress a crumhorn. And a sacbut? Well, modesty forbids me from sharing my feelings on the subject.

You see, I do love to hear an old musical instrument, preferrably something that has a very peculiar shape, is nigh on impossible to play without removing a rib or your own teeth, sounds like a bag pipe breaking wind and has a ridiculous and /or mildly suggestive name (see above).

It’s the historian in me, you see.

Just as if you close your eyes and listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, you can almost convince yourself you’re walking the dusty, sunbleached streets of a South African township (go on, try it)


when I listen to these old instruments and close my eyes, I’m transported to a cathedral – stripped of pews, statues of saints and rood screens returned to their pre-Reformation glory, incense creeping from a censer, chill breeze sneaking under a broad oak door, clean of petrol fumes and car horns and the rumble of buses.

Or, as is the case with today’s Wednesday Word Tangle,


I’ll be in the private rooms – wood panelled walls, plastered ceilings swollen with Tudor rose bosses – of a well educated courtier. The fire will be burning, hounds – exhausted from a day chasing harts – will snooze at our buckled shoes. Candles will flicker in strings of milky pearls as handsome, beruffed gentlemen take up the tune.

Of course, I couldn’t have been one of the courtiers, partly because I’m too low born and partly because I’m too female to work my way up the social hierarchy unless I marry well. No, I’d have been a wench – or more likely at my age, a crone skivvying in the kitchens. Actually, most likely scenario would be I’d already have starved to death or have been taken by some horrible, disfiguring disease.

Anyway, let’s not allow reality to sneak into my time travelling fantasies.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, MADRIGAL (a song for three or more voices) is from the 16th century Italian, madrigale meaning ‘simple, ingenuous’ – derived from the Latin matricalis meaning ‘from the womb’.

So, it’s a ‘simple womb song’. 

Which is nice.



Thanks to Kat, as always for kicking off W4W


10 thoughts on “W4W: Why I love serpents, sacbuts and crumhorns

      1. Ooh, we’ve discussed this before I think. ‘Late in the evening’ crops up on Radio 2’s playlist often and I can’t help but salsa round the kitchen to it! 🙂 My parents had a copy of Bridge over Troubled Water and I played it to death – I remember it had a scratch on the title track and I always mentally put a blip in there whenever I hear it on the radio 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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