Medieval Vielle Instrument

The Medieval Vielle Instrument was a popular stringed instrument in medieval Europe and was similar to modern violin in outlook. A crucial difference of medieval vielle instrument compared to the modern violin was that it was longer and had a deeper body. It was also known by various other names such as “fidel” or “viuola” although vielle was the most commonly used name.

Medieval Vielle Definition

The Medieval vielle instrument was a stringed instrument that consisted of five gut strings. It had a leaf-shaped pegbox consisting of frontal tuning pegs. The body of medieval vielle instrument was made out of a single piece of wood which was about 16 inches long. It remained quite a popular instrument among the medieval troubadours and jongleurs, although its use declined after the end of the medieval times.

Medieval Vielle Instrument

The Medieval Vielle Instrument was an indoor instrument similar to a violin

Medieval Vielle History

The medieval vielle instrument became popular during the middle and late medieval times in particular. There was a difference in the shape of the medieval vielle instrument used during the middle medieval times around 11th century and the ones used during the late medieval times. By the end of the medieval times, medieval vielle instrument gave rise to the early form of violin in Italy.

Medieval Vielle Timeline

The timeline of medieval vielle instrument can be traced back to the 11th century when it emerged in its earliest form. There was little variation in the form during the medieval times but it became different after the end of the medieval times. This happened during the second half of the 15th century in Italy where the medieval vielle instrument became a precursor of the violin. The first violins inspired from the medieval vielle instrument were developed between 1495 and 1505 in Italy.

Medieval Vielle Instrument

The Medieval Vielle instrument was very similar to a violin of today

What Type of Instrument was a Vielle?

Medieval musical instruments were generally classified into bas instruments and haut instruments. Bas instruments had low volume while haut instruments were those with high volume. The Medieval vielle instrument was included in the bas instruments which were also known as soft instruments and were suitable for indoor performances.

How was a Vielle Played?

A medieval vielle instrument was a stringed instrument and, just like the modern day violin, a bow was used to produce sound form the strings. It mostly had five gut strings in addition to having frontal tuning pegs which were used for fine tuning the instrument. In shape and playing style, it was similar to the Arabic instrument Rebab.

Medieval Musicians and Vielle

The Medieval vielle instrument was included in the indoor musical instruments category as it did not have a very high volume. Various kinds of medieval musicians used medieval vielle instruments. This included troubadours and jongleurs mainly from the 13th to the 15th centuries. During the 15th century, the word “vielle” was also used for Hurdy-Gurdy.

Medieval Vielle Instrument Summary

Medieval vielle instruments were among the most popular medieval musical instruments and was included in the soft or indoor musical instruments known as bas instruments. In shape it was similar to modern day violin and was actually the predecessor of the same. By the end of the medieval times, its shape had changed into a violin which emerged from Italy at the end of the 15th century.

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