American Public Media

Saint Paul SundayFeatured Artist


Altramar The Celtic harp
Members of Altramar: Chris Smith (gittern, cruit); Angela Mariani (voice, Celtic harp); Jann Cosart (vielle, crwth); David Stattlemann (voice, drum); with host Bill McGlaughlin in American Public Media's Studio M. The Celtic harp. The harp played by Altramar is based on a 12th-century mosaic. It is a small instrument, held on the lap. This simple, triangular shape was common throughout Europe from Carolingian times into the Gothic period.

The gittern and the vielle The Cruit and the and the crwth
The gittern and the vielle. The gittern is the ancestor of the guitar, but it often resembled the medieval fiddle: two identical instruments were commonly shown together, one plucked and the other bowed. However, gitterns more frequently had frets, flat fingerboards, and flat bridges. The vielle is the ancestor of both the violin and viola da gamba families. It had three to five strings, optional frets, and a flat or curved bridge. The cruit ("critt") and the crwth ("crooth"). The Welsh word crwth and the Irish word cruit both refer to a type of plucked or bowed lyre. The oldest illustrations show the instrument played like a harp, but from the 12th or 13th century a fingerboard was added and a bow was used - much like a modern violin. The bowed version was still in use in Wales into the early 19th century.

Musician Discography: Currently Available Releases

Web site:
You can hear what the vielle, harp, and gittern sound like by going to the site's "Beautiful Sound" page.

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