Tuesday, January 7, 8240

Guiraut d'Espanha (1240-1270) - Pipe and Tabor

Guiraut d'Espanha de Toloza (1240-1270)

Dansa "Ben volgra, s'esser poges" (Pipe and Tabor)

Pipe and Tabor is a pair of instruments, popular since medieval times and played by a single player, consisting of a specially designed fipple flute, the three-hole pipe, played with one hand, and a portable drum played with the other. The pipe consists of a cylindrical tube of narrow bore, pierced with three holes, two in front and one at the back, all very near the end of the pipe; and of a mouthpiece of the kind known as whistle, fipple or beak common to the flûtes à bec or recorder family. The compass of this instrument, with no more than three holes, can sometimes reach two octaves in the hands of a good player. Only the lower four notes of the fundamental scale may be produced, and those are rarely used. The normal useful scale consists, therefore, entirely of harmonics: the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of the series, which are easily obtained, and, by half stopping the holes, also the semitones which are required to complete the chromatic scale. The tabor being fastened to the performers left elbow or arm, the hands remained free, the right beating the little drum with a stick to mark the rhythm, while the left held and fingered the pipe with thumb and first two fingers.

Mersenne mentions a wonderful virtuoso, John Price, who could rise to the twenty-second on the galoubet. Praetorius mentions and figures three sizes of the Stamentienpfeiff, the treble 20 in. long, the tenor 26 in. and the bass 30, the last being played by means of a crook about 23 in. long. A specimen of the bass in the museum of the Brussels Conservatoire has for its lowest note middle C. The pipe and tabor are said to be of Provençal origin; it is certain that they were most popular in France, England, the Basque region of Spain, and the Netherlands, and they figure largely among the musical and social scenes in the illuminated manuscripts of those countries.

There is a similarity between fife and drum music and pipe and tabor. Both are combinations of flute playing in the upper register and small drums. The fife, however, is a transverse (side-blown) flute, whereas the pipe is a fipple flute. The fife requires two hands, and thus the drummer must be a separate person.

Another difference is the cultural connections. The fife and drum are associated with military marching, whereas the pipe and tabor are associated more with other forms of music.
In the drama of Shakespeare's time, clowns performed between acts, often dancing to the music of pipe and tabor[2] Into the 19th Century, the pipe and tabor was often associated with entertainments such as dancing bear acts.

In England, pipe and tabor playing survived into the twentieth century, where it was used to accompany Morris dance. It was close to extinction in the early part of the century, but a revival of interest occurred and the English pipe and tabor tradition remains alive.

Colloquially known as whittle and dub (whistle and tub, perhaps a play on the term wattle and daub), the English form was a small pipe made of wood, about the size of a soprano or descant recorder. In the Twentieth Century the makers of Generation pennywhistles introduced an economical English tabor pipe, made of metal and with a plastic mouthpiece, like their tinwhistles. The English tabor is traditionally a shallow drum of about ten inches across, and often without a snare. It is suspended from the arm or hand that plays the pipe.

Three-hole pipes, made from bone and dating to the Mediaeval Period, have been found in England, and may be early forms of tabor pipe.

There are a number of examples of medieval taborers in buildings of the era, for example Lincoln and Gloucester cathedrals, and Tewkesbury Abbey.

The pipe and tabor, in various local forms, is popular in the Basque region. The txirula and txistu are three-hole tabor pipes tuned to the dorian mode.

The pipe and tabor (danbolin in Basque, tamboril in Spanish) is often played by groups of players in the Basque country.

Aside from its importance in the Basque region, in the Iberian Peninsula the pipe and tabor remains an important part of various regional traditions.

In Provence a form of tabor pipe called the galoubet is played. Its scale begins a third below that of the English tabor pipe. The galoubet is accompanied on an exceptionally deep tabor known as the tambourin.

From Spain, the pipe and tabor was carried to the Americas, where it continues to be used in some folk traditions

The revival of the English pipe and tabor occurred to some extent throughout the Anglophone world, including the United States and Canada. One of the largest manufacturers of tabor pipes, today, is the Kelischeck Workshop, in North Carolina, makers of the Susato line of instruments.

A similar tradition existed in the United States of playing the panpipes together with a tambourine.

[8245 Adam de la Hale / 8240 Guiraut d'Espanha / 8240 Kyrie Trope]