Birth of Venus (the Vielle)

To give a short recap;

We, The Wandering Bard, have been very lucky with an amazingly supportive and caring audience that helped us to make our dreams come true.

We tell stories on stage, following the traditions of bards, we bring news to the audience from the lands that have been ruled by kings, from bards that went on missions to save dying ladies, from misfortuned queens of old times, from soldiers that wished to return to their loved ones, from princes that did all they could to fulfill their dreams. Some calls us modern troubadours. We use existing repertory but we shape the list of pieces we perform in order to tell a grand arch of tales that find themselves space to exist within the very repertoire we choose to shape our story around. The repertory we perform consists of early music and folk music -mainly from the British isles. We like to personalize it to perform on stage as the ensemble we are; a singer, a violin player, a guitar player and a bodhran player.

So far we did our best to survive to the repertory we perform with the modern instruments we had. Yet our passion led us to earlier music than we could perform, in terms of sonority, with our modern instruments. Following our path, we believed our audience could help us to get early music instruments which would bring the sonority that we wish to transmit during our performances.

And as an ensemble we were awarded with the best kind of audience; the kind that listens to us, loves us and helps us to get better. Thanks to each and every contribuiton to our GoFundMe campaign, we will have special instruments made for us, very soon.

This page will keep you posted about the development of the instruments. They are being made by the amazing Orlando Trindade; an innovative luthier who is very much devoted to the reconstruction of the early music instruments as much as an active performer of medieval music. He is a master of the construction techniques of the instruments of the Middle Ages. In the last 10 years, he has built around 60 instruments for musicians from all around the world. He is also dedicated to restoration; having restored several original old instruments, namely romantic violas, and lutes. He maintains a constant work of research and investigation on these themes and we are very lucky to have him as the father of our instruments.

Meet Venus the Vielle! We were very happy to meet her in person, in her most natural form. She is part of a Linden tree that have been with Orlando since 2000, so she is at least 20 years old in this picture! But it has been told that the lime tree grows for 300 years, stands for another 300 and takes 300 years to die (so our Venus is not that old). The linden tree has been the symbol of longetivity, and since visually it is one very pretty tree, its no surprise that a garland of lime leaves were a customary tribute to the goddess of love, Venus.

Linden (Tilia) is the name of a genus of about 30 species of trees and bushes. In the British Isles they are commonly called lime trees, or lime bushes, although they are not related to the tree that produces the lime fruit! Other names of the tree include Linden for the European species, and basswood for North American species. It is a soft hardwood, which made her a pretty popular tree to carve the best out of throughout the whole history. Maybe due to this, or maybe due to its beauty, or the healing powers of it known to herbalists for centuries, it has been part of various folk lores for ages.

In the middle ages it gained the title “sacrum lignum” which meant the holy wood because of the holy figures that were being carved out of it. In pre-christian Slavic mythology the linden was considered a sacred tree as well. Particularly in Poland, many villages have the name “Święta Lipka” (or similar), which literally means the “Holy Lime”. In Baltic mythology, there is an important goddess of fate by the name of Laima whose sacred tree is the lime as well. Laima‘s dwelling was a lime-tree, where she made her decisions as a cuckoo. For this reason it is told that Lithuanian women prayed under lime-trees asking for luck. They treated lime-trees with respect and talked with them as if they were human beings. The linden was also a highly symbolic and hallowed tree to the Germanic peoples in their native pre-Christian Germanic mythology. Originally, local communities assembled not only to celebrate and dance under a linden tree, but to hold their judicial meetings there in order to restore justice and peace. It was believed that the tree would help unearth the truth.

When she is ready, Venus is going to be a beautiful Vielle. In short way of putting it, the vielle is a European bowed stringed instrument mainly used in the Medieval period, similar to a modern violin but with three to five gut strings, and a leaf-shaped pegbox with frontal tuning pegs, sometimes with a figure-8 shaped body. It borrows its looks partially from the rebec family, walks hand in hand with early viols on the path that leads to the modern violin.

Similar to the fortune of various species that coexist during evolution, coexistence of various instruments is somehow slightly under-realized throughout time by many historians. But as seen in the detail of the Fresco done by Gaudenzio Ferrari in early 16th century, various forms of instruments co-exist at times of changes and vielle stands right in the middle of such period which allows the instrument to be part of a broad spectrum of early music.

Orlando had already made a vielle with his very own design of the instrument in this beautiful form, which had four strings. This time his vielle will be a five string one because Venus the Vielle wants to sound dark and cloudy at times to bring out the best of The Wandering Bard at all times! Below we will be sharing some exciting close ups to the development of the instrument, all pictures taken by Orlando throughout the process. Venus the Vielle will have a beautiful leaf-shaped pegbox and a superbly beautiful figure-8 shape body that resembles the violin ever so slightly.

Shaping the peghead needs a lot of care and planning as seen below; the angle of the piece being carefully calculated and cut with precision and the shape being redrawn to the head piece for cutting the main shape of the leaf at a later stage of building. After that Venus the Vielle will be… well, stay tuned, time will tell!

More will come! Please send as an e-mail if you want to get the update on our instruments via thewanderingbardmusic@gmail.com!

Love,

The Wandering Bard

 

 

image sources; WikiMedia Commons & photographs taken by us and Orlando Trindade