One flute-like instrument stands somewhat apart from the others since it is not really a bas instrument — a soft instrument: the pipe and tabor. In fact, it is a pair of instruments that seem to have become partners in the l3th century, and are still popular in folk music, especially in southern France and Spain.

Pipe & tabor. Garden of Delights (detail) Manuscript illumination from De Sphaera (ca.1470) by Christoforo de Predis or his school.


Pipe & tabor. Time (tapestry detail). French (ca.1500-10) Cleveland Museum of Art, 60.178.

Pipe & tabor. Forse che si, forse che no: musique de danse du quattrocento. Ferrara Ensemble, dir. Crawford Young. Carles Mas, pipe and tabor. Fonti Musicali Atelier Danse fmd 182 (1989). Trk 11, Giove (excerpt).


The tabor pipe is essentially a three-holed recorder which can be held and played one-handed, usually by the left. The tabor itself usually dangles from the same wrist and is struck by a stick in the other hand. Like the symphonia, it was popular in both court and countryside, with the player falling naturally into the role of the one-man dance band. The scale is produced with only three fingerholes by using fingering combinations in the harmonic series, much as a modern trumpet uses three valves to achieve notes over a wide range.