Notes & Queries Archive 2001

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Please send replies to queries to the address at the end of the query, with a copy to the Waits Website for publication.

J A Bach  Buxtehude  Conference update  Cool Site Award  Doncaster Waits  Early Reed FAQ's  Hercules  Lizard  Malone Society  Pfeifferstul  'de stadpijpers van 's-Hertogenbosch'  Stadtpfeiffers of Prague?  Tartolds  Waits on Air

Conference update

We have been re-thinking the whole idea of the Waits Conference. For further information see the Conference page.

Johann Ambrosius Bach

I've recently been wondering about JA Bach who is always recorded in passing as a town musician, but then ignored because he was a 'lesser' Bach. Some friends recently went to Eisenach for a holiday and said it is wonderful and it made me think of waits work needing to be done. Why not visit Thuringia and research a lesser Bach?
Well, first stage was the www and this is what I found:
There’s about as much as we’re likely to find on him except that we research him anew, in Thuringia and from the point of view of a stadtpfeiffer instead of a musicologist concentrating on his offspring.


I heard what follows as the introduction to a performance of something by Buxtehude on BBC Radio 3 (Mon. 16th July, 2001 at about 9.30 am). I was driving at the time and had to scibble down what I could remember when I got home. It needs checking and the detail, if available, might be interesting.
When Buxtehude got his new job in Lübeck he was earning four times as much as his father. It was usual for the new incumbant to take responsibility for the family of his late predecessor, and it was customary that he should marry the widow or the daughter, a way of maintaining the fabric of society. For his wedding (to whom?) his position permitted him a fixed number of guests and he was allowed to provide them with cake but not wine. However, he did receive special dispensation to hire all seven members of the town band.
Buxtehude Dietrich (1637?-1707),
Danish-born German organist and composer, a leader of the influential 17th-century North German school of organist-composers. Born probably in Oldesloe, he was the son of a church organist. In 1668 he became organist of the Marienkirche in Lübeck, Germany, where he instituted his annual Abendmusiken, or pre-Christmas evening concerts (a custom that continued into the 19th century). His most influential compositions are his toccatas, preludes, and fugues; they had a profound impact on the music of later composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach, who in 1705 walked more than 320 km (198 mi) to hear the Abendmusik concerts. Buxtehude also composed more than 100 church cantatas, suites for keyboard, and sonatas for strings. He died in Lübeck
James Merryweather

Malone Society records for Norfolk & Suffolk

The Malone Society has very kindly given us permission to print extracts relating to Waits in Norfolk and Suffolk from their Collections Volume XI, a volume which has been invaluable to me in my own researches into the King's Lynn Waits. As Waits are not central to their main area of interest, these entries are not complete. As Dr M J Kidnie of the Malone Society tells me in her letter, 'Volume XI includes only a selection of the relevant material you're interested in - there is more to be uncovered with further research'. It is hoped that placing these entries on this site will inspire others to pursue the matter further.
Chris Gutteridge

Pfeifferstul of Nuremburg

The attachment - which is superb - [see pictures page] is called 'Pfeifferstuhl' and it's by Georg Eberlein. I can't find his dates, and Tony Barton (wait d'Ebor) reckons it's not c. 1500. Look at the detail of mouthpieces which are identical on shawm and saggbut - i.e. misunderstood by the artist - and there's something not quite 16th c about it (?). It's a copy of a mural in the town hall (rathaus) in Nuremburg, painted allegedly by Albrecht Dürer, no less c. 1500, but destroyed by American bombs during the war. There is a B & W of the Dürer you might like to add for comparison.


Does anyone have any information on availability of TARTOLDS (dragon bodied raketts in the Vienna museum). Kurt Reichmann sold these instruments years ago. I have emailed Kurt but have not had any response. Richard Wood thought Stephan Beck had actually produced these Tartolds for Kurt. I have written to Stephen but have not yet had any response. If anyone has any information, I would appreciate hearing from them. Thanks,
Tom Axworthy
SCEMC Southern California Early MusicConsort

Stadtpfeiffers of Prague?

My daughter, Elizabeth, has just returned from a concert tour to Prague, where she visited the tower on the King Charles Bridge. It contained two rooms full of instruments - trumpets, sackbuts, cornetti, lysarden, serpent, side drum and timpani. It is my contention that these were the instruments of the Stadtpfeiffers of Prague, and that the upper room in the tower, before some of the windows were bricked up and the rest glazed, was the open gallery in which they played. In the case with the trumpets is a drawing of men in uniform, playing them. See the Pictures page for the photos that Elizabeth took.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth speaks very little Czech, and she couldn't find anyone who spoke English and could tell her more. If anyone has any information on this, please could they contact me?
Chris Gutteridge.

I have never been there, but I had an old LP of the Prague Museum of Historical Instruments. The museum seemed to be a very rich one. I think Frantisek Pok was involved with it. F.Pok was a trumpet player and recorded musical examples with many strange XIX c. brass instruments. He also used to play cornett (zink) with the Clemencic Consort (with a huge modern trumpet mouthpiece).
Best, Sandro.

Dear Mr.Gutteridge,
in the beginning of last week I have got your mail from the Dulcian discussion list concerning Prague. I live 15 minutes walking from the Charles Bridge and my hobby is the music too - I play the bass curtal in a small ensemble playing the dance and church music. Few words about the exhibition of musical instruments: Prague has a rich collection of the musical instruments of all periods as a departement of the National Museum - about 2800 items, and also a good music library. It used to be placed and opened for all visitors in an beautiful palace on the Mala Strana side of the Charles Bridge. But after the "velvet revolution" in 1989 this palace was given back to the original owner - the Order of the Maltese Cross, and appr. from 1991 the whole collection is not open to the public. It is a horrible shame of the the National Museum and all our governements, that since that time a good place has not been found for the exhibition. I have spoken with the director of the collection - Dr. Cizek, thanks to him at least a couple of the instruments are now in the tower of the bridge. It means, those instruments do not have any direct relation with this tower. I made for you a photo of the pannel, which explains simply the exhibition. The musical life was very rich here in Prague as probably everywhere in the Europe between 1520 and 1620 , especially in the reign of the kings Maxmilian and Rudolph II - Prague was full of musicians from Italy, Germany, Spain and Holland. Philippe de Monte was the conductor of the highest institute - the court orchestra. The musicians were organized in guilds - special guild for battle trompetists, for funeral and wedding ceremony players, for church musicians etc. I guess, it was the same tough job, as it is now. But a beautiful job. There were some famous orchestras outside of Prague too on the courts of aristocrats - the Rozmberk Capella in Cesky Krumlov (180 km from Prague to the south) is the best documented one. And in this place were many woodwinds and brasses well preserved and moved to the Pragues collection. The tower music was very popular at that time and the tower, where the exhibition is now, was definately an excellent place for special occassions - all the kings coronation parades went accross the Charles Bridge and also all the celebrations, concerning St. Johanness Nepomucenus (this priest was tortured and thrown to the river Vltava - engl. Moldau from the Charles Bridge, because he refused to disclose the seal of confession of the King´s wife) were connected with a lot of music too. Thats all, what I can tell you now. Enlosed here you will find the pannel from the exhibition and a beautiful view from the top of the tower. If you would have a trip to Prague some day, let me know, I could maybe find some people, who would know more!
Best regards Jan Klimes
[In addition to the photograph of the pannel which Jan has sent us, I have made a transcript for ease of reading. The information given in this pannel is fascinating and comprehensive, and well worth reading! Chris.]


I have just acquired a Christopher Monk Lizard or Lysarden. This is particularly pleasing as an entry in the King's Lynn Town records for 1st October 1593 refers to 'twoo lizarden' amongst the list of instruments provided by the council for the use of the Waites. It proves much easier to blow and control than either of its wayward cousins, the cornett and the serpent, and joined the Lynn Waites in their grand concert on Saturday, 19th May at King's Lynn Arts Centre, where, with the help of Matthew Bettenson on his Double-bass serpent, we gave the world's first performance on the entire cornett family. For further information, visit the King's Lynn Waites website. If you have come across any records of other Waits using lizards, I would be very interested to hear about them.
Chris Gutteridge, Chief Waite.

Early Reed FAQ's

Through his Dulcian List, Hans Mons recently received an enquiry about various early reed instruments. His reply was so comprehensive and fascinating that I asked him if we could publish an edited version of it, as it has such a bearing on Waits' music-making. To learn more about early reed instruments, see numerous pictures, or join the Dulcian list, visit Hans' splendid site at

What's the difference between a dulcian, a kortholt, and a sordune?
The dulcian, kortholt and sordune have a number of things in common. First, all three instruments were developed during the renaissance, second all three have a double bore connected at the bottom of the instrument, and third, all three are double reed instruments. Now the main differences. Both the sordune and the dulcian use a direct blown double reed, the reed of the kortholt is under a windcap like that of the crumhorn. The dulcian has a conical bore, starting narrow at the reed and gradually expanding to the bell of the instrument. Both the sordune and the kortholt have a cylindrical bore with the same diameter at the reed and at the end opening. The sordune and the kortholt don't have a bell, they have an end opening at the side of the instument.One way to look at the sordune and kortholt is that a kortholt is a sordune with a windcap. This is not really true as the sordune has a bocal between the wooden body and the reed while the kortholt only has a short staple for the reed as a longer bocal would not fit under a windcap.The sound of both the kortholt and the sordune is like that of a (quiet) crumhorn. The difference is that due to the windcap the kortholt can only be played at one sound level while the sordune is more flexible like all other direct blown double reed instruments.

Which instruments overblow?
For an answer on that question you would need a real expert in the field of musical instrument acoustics, and even then, as far as I know it is not so easy to predict.When we look at the reed instruments with a cylindrical bore we see the following:
* Clarinet: overblows, rather wide bore, single reed.
* Chalumeau (baroque predecessor of Clar.): does not overblow, rather wide bore, single reed.
* Crumhorn, cornamuse: do not overblow, single narrow bore, double reed, windcap.
* Racket: limited overblowing, 9 fold narrow bore, no windcap
* Sordune: does not(?) overblow, double narrow bore, double reed, no windcap
* Kortholt: does not overblow, double narrow bore, double reed, windcap
* Still Shawm: does not overblow, narrow bore, no windcap
If we compare the crumhorn, sordune, kortholt, still shawm and racket, the bore diameter is about the same and only the racket can overblow. As far as I know the reason is that due to the multiple folded bore the racket can overblow, but don't ask me why this is. The Still Shawm has not been mentioned before. We are not sure how it was constructed. In some medieval paintings a shawm-like instrument is depicted playing together with fiddles and recorders, so here we have an instrument that looks like a shawm but can not have been as loud as a shawm. In some medieval documents the name of an instrument called a Dulciana (or something close to that) is found, without any description or picture. In the wreck of the Mary Rose (flagship of Henry VIII) a shawm-like instrument with a cylindrical bore was found, this could be the only known surviving Dulcaina, but we can not be sure. A few makers have made instruments like the "Mary Rose Dulcaina". These instruments are now sometimes referred to as Still Shawms. I have tried a few still shawms, the sound is a little bit crumhorn-like, is not loud, is flexible due to the direct reed contact, does not overblow.

On the recorder and oboe, you induce overblowing by the action of your left thumb - the octave-key on the oboe, and the half-open thumb hole on the recorder. Why are tricks like this not commonly used on the simpler buzzies like the crumhorn?
The oboe doesn't need a thumbhole to overblow, it is done with the lips and a higher air pressure.The crumhorn has a thumbhole, but that does not help. With the racket overblowing can be done when the equivalent of the thumbhole is opened. The shawm, baroque oboe, baroque bassoon and dulcian can overblow without the use of a thumbhole. With these instruments you often find a small hole in the bocal or staple, this makes overblowing easier but is not absolutely needed.

Are there any common early instruments that have lip-reed contact (perhaps with a pirouette), but a non-doubled cylindrical bore? I'm interested in something like a crumhorn or cornamuse (ranges much higher than a sordune or rackett) but without the windcap.
Sounds like you are asking for the still shawm I have described above, but the range of this instrument is limited.

I read on some www site about a "hirtenschalmei", which is apparently related to the shawm but with a cylidrical bore (quieter - the shepherds didn't want to scare the sheep, you know!)
I think this is the same instrument as the still shawm.

I see adverts on various sites (EMS, RWC, etc.) for things called "schalmei", which are listed with the shawms, but really do appear to be different. Are those what I'm looking for? How well would they mix with recorders?
If you mean the Spanish Shawm, this instrument has a slightly different shape but is as loud as the normal renaissance shawm. John Hanchet also makes what he calles medieval shawms, these are a little bit less loud, but in my experience not enough to bring the loudness down to the level of recorders. You can also find instruments like:
* Bombarde: very loud "folk" shawm
* Chalumeaux: forerunner of the clarinet
* Rauschpfeif: shawm with windcap, louder then the normal shawm

If the schalmei really doesn't have a cylindrical bore, then what is the difference between it and a shawm?
Schalmei is the German and Dutch name for the soprano shawm. In German and Dutch the alto, tenor and bass shawms are called "Pommer".
Have fun,
Hans Mons

'de stadpijpers van 's-Hertogenbosch'

The York Waits are just back from a visit to 's-Hertogenbosch, where they played alongside the stadpijpers. James Merryweather will be making a full report on this site very shortly. Meanwhile, we have two new pictures of the stadpijpers in their new, green uniforms. One taken on 's-Hertogenbosch City Hall steps with Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his fiancée Maxima with mayor mr. dr. AGJM Rombouts to left (4 September) and the other shows them in front of the Noordbrabants Museum with their new uniforms and replicas of their fabulous gold badges and arm bands (1 September). Click here to see these and other pictures.

Hi James,
I am working in my short holiday on a website/archive of the stadspijpers. Here's the address:  There a little info on the waits too, it's the first newspaper article.
Bye, Matthijs

Exciting news from the Netherlands! The city pipers of 's-Hertogenbosch existed from 1350 till 1629. In 1983 Marcel Ploegmakers re-established the city pipers for the 800th anniversary of the town. They now have 10 musicians playing trumpets, flutes and drums. The clothes they wear are of the period of 1530. On these clothes they have a bracelet with the name: 's-(hart)-(two eyes)-bossche (s-hartoogebossche) and badges. See 'In Buscoducis' by A.M.Koldeweij, listed in our bibliography.
Marcel tells us that the band is engaged in a metamorphosis, with new uniforms and musical instruments: saccabouts, schalmeiën, dulciaan and maybe ruispijpen. The town is a fortified city (vestingsstad). You can find information about fortified cities in the Netherlands on the website Marcel Ploegmakers (Leader of the Stadspijpers van 's-Hertogenbosch) can be contacted by clicking
Stop Press!
Marcel has just sent us some splendid pictures of his band in their present uniforms, with one example of the new uniform. If they sound even half as good as they look, they must be well worth hearing!

Pictures of 'de stadpijpers van 's-Hertogenbosch'

Waits on Air

James Merryweather of The York Waits will be talking with Tim Healey of Oxford Waits in his series 'At Home with Healey' on Radio 4 in April. One entire programme will be devoted to the subject of Waits. See message below from the producer, Dilly Barlow of Testbed Productions. Further details to follow as available.

Dear Chris,
thanks for your e mail.
I am currently investigating setting up a BBC website - haven't as yet had a response from those involved. As soon as I do I will let you know. But I have already told them about a possible link with yours - and given them the address. Will keep you posted.
I also haven't finally decided in what order the 4 programmes in the series
will be broadcast. But the dates will be :
Sun April 1st 13.30 - R4
Sun Apr 8th 13.30
sun Apr 15th
Sun Apr 21st
I think the Town Waits is likely to be the first - but until I have recorded them all I won't be able to confirm.
Alas in this series there is no scheduled repeat, but that is not to say they won't be repeated at a later date, and can likewise keep you posted about that.
For your information - the other programmes in the series will be
John Clare - Country Fiddler - about the lesser know side of the poet.
The Great British Barn Dance
Political Songsters - with Denis and Edna Healey about pre-war political songs.
I hope this is of some use - thanks for your intereset and I very much hope we will have a BBC website up and running. So far the response from them has been positive.
Dilly Barlow. [back]


Hi, James!
I thought I'd contact you to see how things look for the conference next year. Things are good with our band. We've been gigging fairly regularly under the name of Hercules (partly because our Globe associations) and have got together a decent repertoire of music 1450-1620, so I hope there'll be a possibility to bring the ensemble up to perform at the event. I think I can guarantee we'd be a bit different. As well as our usual selection of beautiful motets and songs we've been working on a style and repertoire that approximates to a large non-literate, improvising dance band of the mid-16th century. Our last gig in the exhibition space at the Globe was the nearest I've got renaissance jazz, though all in the best possible historical taste of course.
I'm looking forward to the academic side of the event. Your bibliography has been very useful, and I'm still dipping into it. I would like to present a paper at the conference concerning the origins of the terms 'waits' and the idea of the musical 'watch', tying the European tradition to its non-European roots. I think its a helpful subject as it builds vital links for the European ensemble that help it to seem relevant and contemporary rather than just a quaint historical relic, a criticism which I fear dogs early music and particularly wind bands presently. I can submit a draft of this paper if you think it would be of interest. Do you have idea yet of how the scholarly part of the conference may take shape?
With best wishes
Keith McGowan (and Hercules)

Hello, Keith.
I'm glad somebody else is thinking about the origins of waits and that word, the meaning of which has so frequently been simply trotted out without proper research or thought. I think Richard Rastall has some important thoughts himself, and we might do well to have a mini conference to see who's reached what conclusions. I certainly have some strong opinions as well as an awful lot of unanswered questions. One thing seems to be pretty certain: Alexander Neckham did not write what several important papers confidently state he did (well, not in De Naturis Rerum) and it is therefore impossible to discover whether or not "(Veytes)" occurred in his original text or is a later, editorial addition - or do you know better??!! So many authors have repeated erroneous statements made by others or, like Bridge quoting Washington Irving, have misquoted to suit their thesis.
We need a new start, basing our interpretation on primary sources where possible or the nearest alternative, demolishing old dogma and putting the waits back into historical reality where they belong. I don't know whether you read the Bagpipe Society's publications? If you do, you'll know I've been waging a similar battle, applying the rigour of scientific research to woolly bagpipe history. Over & over again I come across total trumpery moonshine dressed up as fact and unless somebody says boldly: "'ere, 'ang on, this is a load of bollocks", everybody laps it up and, before you know what's happening, learned authors quote it and it becomes gospell. Ditto the waits, the word and their origins.
James [back]

Cool Site Award Open Directory Project

The Waits Website has won an award from the Mozilla Open Directory Project as a 'cool site'! Apart from their entire page of Waits-related sites they have hand-picked sites on all topics - well worth a look!

Doncaster Waits

Dear Chris,
May I wish you a belated happy new year from all in the Doncaster Waites! The Doncaster Waites do I hear you say? Yes waites are alive and well and living in South Yorkshire. The group has been performing under the present name for about 10 years, but we have only recently progressed into the 21st century by acquiring a web page. This can be found at waites.htm. having spoken to Mr Merryweather recently he suggested I contact you to see if you would be so kind as to add us to the official Waites web site.
As yet our page is rather small, but we do hope to expand it and add to it some of the research I have done into the Doncaster Waites; as well as details of what we are up to. Generally we only perform locally in a small way and we are a little hampered by the lack of suitable venues in Doncaster. but we do get regular bookings from more historic properties round about.
Anyway please have a look at our page and please feel free to contact me if you would like any further information.
yours Roger Offord on behalf of the Doncaster Waites

Hi Chris,
I have at last managed to come up with a version of the Doncaster town arms that I can E-mail to you for the Waites web site. I hope it is ok. My research failed to identify an early 17th century version of the arms so this one is taken from a Charter of 1467 as you can see the normal visual puns are particularily basic. Doncaster being literally the castle on the river Don. the motto translates as comfort & joy which immediately brings Christmas to mind for some reason! Thanks for your help and I hope you have a successful year.
Regards Roger

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