1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Platerspiel

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
[ 805 ]

PLATERSPIEL, Blaterpfeife, a medieval simplified bagpipe, consisting of an insufflation tube, a bladder and a chaunter; the double reed in its socket at the top of the chaunter being concealed within the bladder. In the platerspiel we recognise the early medieval chorus, a word which in medieval Latin was frequently used also for the bagpipe. In the earlier forms of platerspiels of which we possess illustrations, such as the well-known example of the 13th century reproduced by Martin Gerbert from a MS. at St Blasius, the bladder is unusually large, and the chaunter has, instead of a bell, the grotesque head of an animal with gaping jaws. At first the chaunter was a straight conical tube terminating in a bell, as in the bagpipe. The later instruments have a pipe of larger calibre more or less curved and bent back as in the cromorne. One of these appears in the 13th-century Spanish MS., known as the Cantigas de Santa Maria[1] in the Escurial, together with a platerspiel having two pipes, a chaunter and a drone side by side. Another is figured by Virdung (1511).

There was practically no technical difference between the bent platerspiel and the cromorne, the only distinction being the form and size of the air-chamber in which the reed was set in vibration by the compressed air forced into it through the insufflation tube or the raised slit respectively of the two instruments. The earlier form of platerspiel is found at the end of the 15th century, in the magnificent Book of Hours, known as the Sforza Book[2] (Brit. Mus.). An interesting allusion to the platerspiel occurs in an old English ballad.[3] Eight shepherds were playing on various instruments: “the fyrst hed ane drone bagpipe, the next hed ane pipe maid of ane bleddir and of ane reid, the thrid playit on ane trump, &c.,” from which it is evident that the platerspiel retained its individuality and did not become merged in the bagpipe. (K. S.)


  1. Reproduced by J. F. Riaño, in Studies of Early Spanish Music (London, 1887).
  2. See facsimile edited by Dr George Warner, pl. xxviii. fol. 51.
  3. See F. J. Furnivall, Captain Cox, his ballads and Books, or Robert Laneham's Letter A.D. 1575 (London, 1871), clx. 86.