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The Winchester Waytes

Photo Album

A Royal Garden

How To Book The Winchester Waytes

Contact the Winchester Waytes

Concert Diary

The Winchester Moot Horn

The instruments we play

CD recordings

Own your own moot-horn

The costumes we wear

Moot-horn's Authenticity

Rehearsal Schedule

Hampshire's Mediaeval "Pilgrims' Trail"

Links for The Winchester Waytes



The Winchester Waytes

Vigiles and musicians of the ancient capital of England

Mediaeval, Tudor or Renaissance Band



The Winchester Waytes, re-formed during Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee Year, have been recreating the sounds of 12th and 13th Century Wintanceaster the ancient capital of England. This Mediaeval Town Band has been filmed on and in the ancient Westgate, situated at the top of Winchester's High Street, the oldest still useable High Street in Europe.

Italian television has been recording a series of Cultural and Travel programmes promoting the City of Winchester and the Wessex region. The Winchester Waytes have assisted with period music, dance and other cultural activities in partnership with the Winchester City Tourism Department and The Winchester Museums Service. (Please see photographs below.)

During the halcyon days of Wintanceaster in the 13th century the streets of the capital of England resounded to the musick of the Winchester Waytes. As watchmen, city warders and champions of Winchester, the Waytes patrolled the streets and played for civic and ceremonial occasions.

The instrumentation of the ensemble includes recorders, shawms, rackets, cornetts, curtals, bagpipes, bombards, flageolets, doucaines, flutes, hornpipes, panpipes, tabors, nakers and kettle drums. The varied wind and percussion ensembles allow for the segregation of both "indoor" and "outdoor" whether for background music for banquets and formal dinners or for fanfares and flourishes and dancing.

Period costumes of the 12th and 13th century add colour and a sense of occasion. With historically researched music, of the early medieaval and later English periods, the band recreates the sounds brought back by the early crusaders following their contact with the Arabs, known at that time as the Saracens. This was the time of the founding of great courts and cities, the future employers of trumpeters and other musicians.

As well as their city work, The Winchester Waytes are always delighted to play for local community based festivals. We welcome enquiries from organisers. Working closely with local schools and colleges, students are encouraged to enjoy their music making and to broaden their knowledge of this very accessible medium. Workshops and concerts, linked to the National Curriculum, are an important part of the ensemble's educational outreach.

The Waytes are available for banquets, corporate functions and product launches. With colourful costumes and a ceremonial approach their music lends itself to numerous regal and social occasions. Dance music, incorporating other instruments including recorder, shawms, pipes and harps, together with court jesters, will bring any formal event to life. We look forward to hearing from you.

A brief history of medieaval wind music

"During the troubadour age, wind instruments were used in music with great freedom. There are hints of segregation of the noisier instruments from those that matched the singer and strings but hardly more. However, in the 14th century, with its greater emphasisis on concerted music, the distinction became binding, and this is the first point to grasp when fitting old wind instruments, or modern substitute for them, into performances of 14th and 15th century music.

The stricter observance of the distinction may have owed much to late 13th century interest in Arab music-making. There had been nothing particularly Arab about either the provenance or the useage of the earlier "Gothic" instruments, but now, towards the end of the 13th century, there appeared a fresh group of instruments, this time obtained direct from the Arab civilisation. It included some of the pincipal stringed instruments of Arab chamber music, as the lute, and the Moorish fiddle rubebe: also the Saracen military band equipment with long metal trumpets, the small Oriental kettle drums, nakers, and the band shawm. With the advent of these came also the Oriental strict distinction between loud and soft instruments and music, and to appreciate what it signifies, we may first observe it as it still operates in the traditional music of the East today....."

Woodwind Instruments and their History by Anthony Baines pp230 231...ff

published by Faber Paperbacks
ISBN 0-571-08603-9

The Trumpet in the Late Middle Ages (c 1100-1400)

"In the late Middle Ages, literature and art flourished greatly, creating a profusion of new forms of trumpet and therefore new names as well. This variety was due largely to contact with the Arabs, known at that time as 'Saraccens'. This was the time of the founding of great courts and cities, the future employers of trumpeters, as well as the emergence of two kinds of instrumental ensemble using trumpets: the pure trumpet ensemble, sometimes including kettledrums, and the so-called alta ensemble consisting of shawms and trumpets. It was also during this period that musicians, including trumpeters, first banded together into brotherhoods or confederations. However by far the most important use of the trumpet was in was; and it was easy for the itinerant musicians of the time to find temporary employment in the service of one of the numerous armies going off to the Crusades."

Western Trumpets at the Time of the Crusades

The most important kind of trumpet in the Western world came to be the busine. The busine is generally agreed to be a long, usually cylindrical trumpet of metal. The word was derived from the French term busine around the year 1250;both terms go back to the Latin word bucina. The sources of the 12th and 13th centuries, however, are contradictory. For example, in the Song of Roland, written around the year 1100, busines are mentioned which are hung around the neck. These must therefore have been rather short instruments, probably like the oliphant, which was made of ivory; other sources mentioned animal horn as the material. Even if the word 'busine' designated the long metal trumpet then, there are so many other definitions that this term must be used with the greatest care. In the fifteenth century, with the invention of the double slide, by way of the word pusune,the German word for trombone. Posaune, originated, as we have seen above.

It is thought that the long metal trumpet - whether it was called busine or nafir - was brought to the Western world by the Saracens. The earliest example of such an instrument was thought to be the four trumpets in the representation of the Last Judgement on the west wall of the basilica of S. Angelo in Formis, near Capua, painted in the years 1072-87. Although these instruments do indeed demonstrate the new, long form and are to be termed trumpets rather than horns, Capua lies outside the Saracen sphere of influence; the early dating also excludes the influence of the first Crusades which did not start until 1096. Baines (1976) has also pointed out that there are no contemporary Arabian representations of trumpets which can be drawn on for comparison. The Formis frescoes therefore seem to present us with a riddle. However, Zak (1979) has demonstrated a clear Byzantine influence: in the training of the artists and in the style of their frescoes, in the former occupation of the territories surrounding Capua, and finally, in the use of trumpets themselves in the Byzantine empire, both in war and at court."

The Trumpet by Edward Tarr pp35,38
published by Batsford
ISBN 0-7134-5463-6

The Use of Trumpets in the West: the Trumpa

Details of the fighting and of the use of musical instruments in the Third Crusade have been handed down by both sides. Entering Messina in the year 1190, Richard the Lionheart was greeted by "resounding tubae and clear, bright litui"; there on the third day, he encouraged his army to follow him "to the sound of the buccina".

As Richard was pausing in Sicily before setting out for Palestine, a new kind of instrument - the trumpa - was demonstrated to him. Roger of Wendover (d.1236) wrote about "tubae called trumpae". This instrument was mentioned for the first time around the year 1180 in the writings of William of Palermo. It is possible that the trumpa, too, was of Arabian origin, because the Normans had driven the Saracens out of Sicily only nine years before, taking over many of their customs. The word "trumpa" was to become particularly important in the future, for the modern terms for the trumpet in the most important European languages developed from diminutive forms of this term: in German, trumpa, trumb, Trum(m)et, Trompete; in French, trompe, trompette; and in English, trump, trumpet. At first, in the fourteenth century, the diminutive form designated the short straight trumpet; afterwards, in the fifteenth century, and thanks to a new technique in instrument making, it came to mean the modern, folded trumpet.

The noise-making function of the Saracen military music was soon taken over by the Christians. Courtly epic poems often described battle music.

The sound of the trumpet called the troops to battle: �m�n bus�ner hiez ich d� / bl�sen unde machen schal� (Frauendienst, c 1255, verse 590, 6). The warlike music was not allowed to cease at the height of the battle:

Biaus fu Ii jors et Ii solaus luist clers,
Et la bataille fist molt � redouter
cc lieus i v�issi�s capler,
Cors et buisines et olifans soner,
Molt hautement ensegnes escrier,
Pa�ne gent et glatir et huper
. . .

(The day was beautiful and the sun shone clear,
and the battle was fearsome.
In two hundred places you could see them fighting,
and you heard horns, trumpets, and oliphants sounding and making very loud signals, and you heard the pagans shouting and screaming. . .)

(From Aliscans, Chanson de Geste, lines 5617-22)

The expression "machen schal", or "to make noise during the battle", is quite probably related to the later Baroque term, "L�rmblasen". In the Middle Ages, this music-making by trumpeters was called "classicum". The classicum was described by John of Janua as follows: "Properly speaking, classicum is the unison made by all the instruments sounding together, whether they be the tubae and cornua in war, or the bells". The "unison of all the instruments sounding together" seems to have been organized in some way. But at other times, however, "the tubae were sounded at random to frighten the enemy" (Aymeric de Peyrac, fifteenth century). The performance of the classicum will be discussed below.

The magical sound resulting from all these instruments being played together comes out clearly in these descriptions, especially when "trumpets and bells ring out together", as stated in Lohengrin, verse 5037. The word "sonnerie", still in use today in French, means both a military signal and a ringing of bells. Military signals seem to have developed only gradually. At the time of the courtly epic poems, there was just a "ringing out" of trumpets. By contrast, fixed tunes seemed to have existed on marches; these were called "Reisenoten": �M�n bus�naere die bliesen d� / mit kunst ein reisenot vil h��. (Frauendienst, verse 996, 6-7).

The Trumpet by Edward Tarr pp39,41
published by Batsford
ISBN 0-7134-5463-6

"Musick-making for Italian television,
August 2002, selling Winchester back to Italy"

"With tudor harp and recorders
inside The Westgate, Winchester, August 2002"


"Gules, five castles in saltire argent, the centre castle supported by two lions passant guardant or"

The earlier existing example of the City Arms in this stained glass panel in the 15th century window of the Westgate. The arms were recorded by the Heralds during their visitation, first between 1622 and 1634 and secondly in 1686.

The City arms were probably derived from the silver seal of Edward I which showed a crowned bust of himself, a lion of England at the base and on either side a castle with triple towers. It may be that the five castles shown on the City Arms refer to the five city gates of Winchester

Bishop of Winchester, Principal of King Alfred's College, Head of Governors of King Alfred's College and co-founders of the Winchester Waytes, Tim Norris and Tim Warren on the occasion of the official renaming of King Alfred's College to University College Winchester, June 2004

Mediaeval music from the time of The Crusades performed by The Winchester Waytes in The City Museum, Winchester on the occasion of the International Businessmen's Reception, 26 September 2006. Instruments including cornetto, shawm, lute, nakers, recorders, gemshorns, mediaeval Moot Horn, cymbals, triangle, bells and a battery of percussion. A veritable feast to the ear!

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