Music is Life

June 3, 2020 – Adrianna Holt, Adult Services / Passport Agent

Music is a constant for many people. Whether it is listening to the radio on their way to work, playing a specific playlist while working out, or having a certain song to get them up in the morning. I am definitely one of those people that needs music on almost a daily basis. Even as I type up this post, I’m listening to music that I’ve had for over ten years. It is interesting how one song can take you back to a certain time, a certain memory, a certain place.

As much as I enjoy music, I do not know how to play a musical instrument. Never have I really been musically inclined, ask me what a B flat is and I’ll just go, “Uh….a musical note?” Where is it on an instrument? *shrugs hard* It is therefore an oddity that I found a spouse that knows how to play not one but at least three musical instruments, including the piano and saxophone.

One of the nonfiction books that I’ve been reading during my time away from my beloved workplace is The Private Lives of Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain’s Greatest Dynasty by Tracy Borman. So, the topics of music and medieval history got me thinking about what kind of musical instruments were there in history that we don’t hear much about these days (or at least I don’t). I’ve chosen four that had really weird names and will tell you a little bit about each of them. 


The ADUFE is a traditional square tambourine/drum. It originated from the 700s A.D in Portugal. It’s usually made of pine and then goat’s skin is mounted and then stitched upon. The sounds that it makes comes from the tiny seeds or smallish stones that are placed in the interior. It’s purpose was to be utilized in Christian religious processions, local festivals, and working in the fields. Another interesting fact is that is was only played by women. 


The GLOCKENSPIEL is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys that almost looks like the keyboard of a piano but is similar to a xylophone, with the difference that this instrument has metal tubes or plates instead of wood. It is of German origin and its translation loosely means “Ring of bells”. It became a part of the orchestra in Europe in the 19th century.


The SHAWM is a wind instrument that was created in Europe in the 12th century. A single piece of wood is used to build the instrument and is then flared into a bell shape (sort of like a trumpet). The shawm was used for military purposes, such as being a psychological weapon, and recreational purposes like dancing. The peak of its population was during the medieval and then Renaissance periods. It inspired such instruments as the bassoon, charumera, and oboe. 


The ZAMPOGNA is an Italian instrument consisting of double chantered pipes. The Zampogna is possibly as old as 500 B C. It is made of  reeds from a giant reed called Arundo donax, or it is sometimes cane or plastic, and the bags are goat hide that has been turned inside out. This instrument is still played today, however, the (mostly folk) musicians have substituted the goat and sheep made bags with a rubber inner tube or something called Wintex which is covered by fake fleece.


If you’re still stuck inside or it is a life goal to learn a musical instrument or how to read music, there are quite a few apps out there that you can download for free that will assist you in these goals. Two of the top apps with the best ratings are Music Tutor (Sight-Reading) and Yousician (PLUS they’re both available for Apple or Android). Music Tutor (Sight-Reading) is an app that teaches you how to read sheet music and helps identify musical notes in timed sessions. Yousician teaches you how to play the ukulele, piano, guitar, bass, or how to sing with 1000s of songs, lessons, and exercises.

Stay Safe and Hope To See Everyone Soon 💚


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