In the Middle Ages the sounds of the orient began to enchant the occident. Eastern musical instruments, introduced into Western Europe from the Eastern civilizations, brought with them a new set of musical aesthetics. Eastern music was divided in two categories: music to be played in a closed place with "soft" instruments, and ceremonial music to be played in the open using "loud" instruments. The Saracen ceremonial band was a well-established ensemble of wind and percussion instruments. In Medieval Europe the nobility, the church, cities, and people of high social standing sought to establish an image of stability, power, magnificence, and splendour. Music was indispensible to this image, and the "loud" instruments inherited from the Saracens proved to be an ideal means of projecting this image. Capable of furnishing music for functions of state, church, and court it was also to become the preferred ensemble for dance music. The captivating sound of this ensemble became immensly popular throughout Medieval Western Europe … so popular that its make-up would remain largely unvaried until the renaissance period. Les haulz et les bas has researched the long trumpets that are still in use in traditional music in various countries around the world (Morocco, Usbekistan, Ethiopia,...). With this programm, they bring back to life the ceremonial elegance and festive frenzy of this extraordinarily popular ensemble.
"These days the loud shawms and trumpets have driven the sober fiddles away from the festivities and the young girls dance like mad to the noise, womanishly and tastelessly wobbling their bottoms like cows."
Konrad von Megenberg, c. 1350
Click in the picture to listen to it.