Archives

Zither

Zither (Accepted)

Zither (Accepted)

Hammered dulcimer (Accepted)

Hammered dulcimer (Accepted)

The zither is a stringed musical instrument, or rather, a family of instruments, with strings stretched over a flat shallow box.  Unlike the harp, the strings were not free-standing; and unlike the lyre, the zither had no yoke.  It differed from the psaltery in that the strings’ notes were determined, not by their length, but by frets, bridges, or finger pressure; it could be played by strumming, plucking with a plectrum, or striking with hammers.  Though a period instrument, we’ve found no examples of the zither in medieval heraldry.

One form of zither (in a sense, the generic zither) is a long slender soundbox with three or four strings; it’s found in a fresco in the church of Rynkeby, Denmark, c.1560 [Grove 27:858].  This form evolved into the Swiss “scheitholt”, described in Praetorius’ Syntagma Musica, 1619, and the more ornate “epinette des Vosges” of France, post-period – and eventually to the modern “Appalachian dulcimer”, so-called though not actually a dulcimer.  The modern forms are no longer registerable, pending documentation.

The “dulcimer”, in its true sense, is a specific form of zither, a broad box with many strings.  It’s a period instrument, shown in a Flemish painting Mary Queen of Heaven c.1485 [Remnant 117].  In period, the dulcimer was always played by hammering; in modern parlance, it’s best to blazon it fully as a “hammered dulcimer”.

All zithers are shown with the strings facing the viewer by default; when blazoned “proper”, they are of brown wood.  No heraldic difference is granted between the various kinds of medieval zither.

Miriel d’Estoile bears:  Per bend argent and azure, a compass star azure and in bend a feather argent and a fretted zither Or.

Cadwan Galwiddoe of Redmarch bears:  Gules, on a bend between two mullets of eight points argent, a ram’s-headed scheitholt sable, detailed gules.

Dulcinea Margarita Teresa Velasquez de Ribera bears as a badge:  A hammered dulcimer Or.

This entry was posted on June 8, 2014, in .

Zil

Pair of zils (questionable)

Pair of zils (questionable)

Zils, or zills, are finger cymbals used by modern ethnic dancers, notably Middle Eastern dancers.  Your Author has not found any period examples of their use, in armory or by dancers.

When borne in pairs, by Society convention, zils are arranged as worn on the dancer’s fingers:  in pale, the lower one inverted.  For related charges, see bell, musical instrument.

Stevanna of Houghton bears:  Vert, an arm embowed with hand to sinister argent, holding zils, with four armbands and entwined by a double-headed serpent, all Or.

Baraka bint Hasan al-Fahim bears:  Azure, a pair of zils between two scimitars addorsed crossed at the hilts argent.

Bahita of Abu Simbel bears:  Azure, a bend sinister Or between a zil bendwise and another bendwise inverted, all within a bordure argent.

This entry was posted on June 8, 2014, in .

Whistle, mariner’s

Mariner's whistle (Period)

Mariner’s whistle (Period)

A mariner’s whistle is a thin metal tube extending from a hollow ball:  it was used to command sailors’ attention at sea.  It’s a period charge, used as a badge by de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who had been Lord of the Admiralty, d.1513 [Coat of Arms IV(27), July 56, p.96; also Siddons II.2 303].  Post-period heraldic authors misinterpreted the badge as a wine bottle, but more recent research has corrected this.  The mariner’s whistle is fesswise by default.  See also musical instruments.

William Fletcher of Carbery bears:  Per bend azure and gules, a bend Or between three arrows in pale fesswise reversed and a mariner’s whistle palewise argent.

This entry was posted on June 8, 2014, in .

Viol

Viol (Period)

Viol (Period)

Rebec (Accepted)

Rebec (Accepted)

A viol is a stringed musical instrument, a medieval cousin of the violin.  It had a flat back, a fretted neck, and six strings; it was played with a curved bow.  Its “proper” tincture is brown, the color of wood.  When blazoned a “violin”, the Renaissance (i.e., modern) form is intended.

The terms “vielle” and “fiddle” are sometimes used to denote this family of instruments; these terms have the advantage of leaving the exact details and period to the artist.  By whatever name, the charge can be dated to c.1340, in the arms of Wilfendingen or Wieladingen [Zurich 347].

Similar to the viol is the “rebec”, more pear-shaped, with a rounded back like a lute, and three or four strings.  Heraldically, it is indistinguishable from the lute.

Both the viol and the rebec have strings to the viewer by default.  The Society default is with neck to chief, contrary to the period default.

Samuel Piper bears:  Quarterly vert and Or, four viols counterchanged.

Cedric Fithelere bears:  Per fess azure and argent, on a pale engrailed between in chief two violins palewise, in base a violin palewise, all counterchanged.

Rebecca de Ravenstein bears:  Vert, a rebec in bend sinister, pegheads in chief, crossed by a bow fesswise argent.

This entry was posted on June 8, 2014, in .

Trumpet

Trumpet (Period)

Trumpet (Period)

Spiral hunting horn (Accepted)

Spiral trumpet, or spiral hunting horn (Accepted)

A trumpet is a brass musical instrument with a flared end and a blaring tone.  Its default form is more fully blazoned a “straight trumpet”; it was used as an heraldic charge as early as 1285, in the canting arms of Trumpington [ANA2 475].  Two straight trumpets in saltire are the symbol of the SCA College of Arms, and reserved to the College and the seals of its Sovereigns of Arms and the Principal Heralds.

 

 

Bucina, or Roman tuba (Accepted)

Bucina, or Roman tuba (Accepted)

Baroque folding trumpet (Accepted)

Baroque folded trumpet (Accepted)

Society armory also has examples of the “spiral trumpet”, also called a “spiral hunting horn“, the precursor of the modern French horn; the “baroque folded trumpet”, like a sackbut but with no moving parts (its length made a full range of notes possible); and the “Roman tuba” or “bucina”.  All these trumpets have their bells to chief by default.  See also cornetto, organ pipe.

The College of Arms bears:  Vert, two straight trumpets in saltire, bells in chief Or.

Halla in heppna Knorsdottír bears:  Purpure, in fess three straight trumpets Or.

Daven Echern bears:  Azure, on a plate a horse salient to sinister sable, in base a spiral trumpet Or, all within a bordure embattled argent.

Corwyn Iain MacAern bears:  Per chevron sable and argent, a griffin passant and a Roman tuba reversed counterchanged.

Lijss van den Kerckhove bears as a badge:  Or, a baroque folded trumpet fesswise reversed purpure and in chief two rosemary sprigs fesswise conjoined at the stem vert.

This entry was posted on June 5, 2014, in .

Sitar

Sitar (questionable)

Sitar (questionable)

A sitar is a musical instrument from India, similar to a lute but with a very long fretted neck; it usually has six strings.  Early forerunners (e.g., the tanbur) were known c.1300 in the works of Amir Khusrau [Grove 23:451]; but the sitar itself dates only to the 18th Century.  The neck is to chief by Society default.

Gandharva Candra bears:  Azure, two sitars affronty in saltire Or.

This entry was posted on June 3, 2014, in .

Sackbut

Sackbut (Accepted)

Sackbut (Accepted)

A sackbut is an S-shaped brass musical instrument, the medieval precursor of the trombone.  It’s a period instrument, dating from the 15th Century [Grove 22:78], but doesn’t seem to have been found in period armory.  The sackbut is palewise, bell to base by Society default; when fesswise, the bell faces dexter.  For related charges, see horn (hunting), trumpet.

Davide Michelotto bears:  Checky vert and argent, on a bend sinister gules a sackbut Or.

Wolfgang Neuschel der Grau bears as a badge:  Azure, three sackbuts inverted within a bordure argent.

This entry was posted on June 2, 2014, in .

Recorder

Recorder (Accepted)

Recorder (Accepted)

A recorder is a musical instrument of the woodwind family, with a fipple mouthpiece and six or more finger holes; the earliest surviving example dates to c.1390.  Though a period instrument, the recorder doesn’t appear to have been used in period armory.

Recorders came in several sizes, particularly in the Renaissance [Grove 21:41]; the alto recorder, seen in the illustration, seems to be the Society default.  The recorder is shown palewise and affronty, with the finger holes to the viewer, by Society default; its “proper” tincture is brown, the color of wood.  For related charges, see cornetto, flute, hautboy, krummhorn.

Jame the Hayree Harryson bears:  Azure, three recorders in fess and a bordure Or.

Cáelainn ingen Muiredaig bears:  Per pale vert and sable, three recorders bendwise Or.

Morgan of Surrey bears:  Azure, a recorder within a bordure rayonny Or.

This entry was posted on June 2, 2014, in .

Rackett

Rackett (Accepted)

Rackett (Accepted)

A rackett is a double-reed musical instrument, dating from the 16th Century [Grove 20:719].  It has a compact body in which multiple air columns are drilled and joined, thus achieving the low notes of a bassoon in a very small space.  No examples of the rackett have been found in medieval armory.  For related charges, see hautboy.

Stefan von der Heide bears:  Argent semy of musical notes sable, on a pale gules a rackett Or.

This entry was posted on June 2, 2014, in .

Psaltery

Triangular psaltery (Accepted)

Triangular psaltery (Accepted)

Pig-snouted psaltery (Accepted)

Pig-snouted psaltery (Accepted)

A psaltery is a stringed musical instrument, of the same class as the zither, consisting of a flat sound-box with many strings stretched across it.  The shape of the sound-box determined the length of the strings, which in turn determined their note; hence the most usual forms of early psaltery were triangular (as in the illustration, taken from an 11th C. manuscript) or trapezoidal.  By the 14th Century, however, the “pig-snouted psaltery” or instrumento di porco had developed, as seen in the Luttrell Psalter, c.1340.  All were played by plucking, with the fingers or a plectrum.

Bpwed psaltery (Disallowed)

Bowed psaltery (Disallowed)

Society armory includes another form of psaltery, the “bowed psaltery”.  Shaped as an isosceles triangle, it’s actually a modern folk instrument played with a musical bow.  This form has been disallowed, pending evidence of its period existence.

All forms of psaltery have their strings affronty by Society default; when blazoned “proper”, the psaltery is brown, the color of wood.

Orrick of Romney bears:  Azure, a wooden pig-snout psaltery inverted between three acorns proper.

Alyce Renée of Montauban bears:  Per bend sinister embattled argent and azure, a frog rampant to sinister and a trapezoidal psaltery bendwise sinister counterchanged.

Eowyn nic Wie of Kincora bears:  Gules, a bowed psaltery Or between two flaunches ermine and in chief a psaltery bow Or.

This entry was posted on May 27, 2014, in .