About Maranella Medieval Minstrels


Maranella What's On Diary

Where to see and hear Maranella Medieval Minstrels

Coming Up:

Re-enactment Festival

Saturday & Sunday, 18th-19st April 2020

11am-3pm both days

Greenfield Valley Heritage Park, Holywell, Flintshire, CH8 7GH


"Take a stroll through our living timeline, meet people from the past and enjoy the arena displays. There will be period music to enjoy and trinkets to buy. "
"Dewch am dro trwy ein llinell amser fyw, i gwrdd â phobl o'r gorffennol a mwynhau arddangosiadau yn yr arena. Bydd cerddoriaeth o'r oes a fu i'w mwynhau a manion i'w prynu."

Chester Folk Festival

Friday 22nd - Mon 25th May, 2020

Kelsall nr Chester, Cheshire


See Info on their website

Workshop - Medieval Music

Folk Club Concert

Tatton Medieval Fayre

Saturday & Sunday, 20th/21st June 2020

Tatton Old Hall, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN


One of our favourite annual events

Come along (any time from 12 noon) and browse the stalls, watch the battle and enjoy soaking up the atmosphere. Listen to us play and, if you feel like it, join in with our medieval dancing

Chester Minstrels' Court

Saturday 20th June 2020

St John's Church, Chester

We don't know, as yet, whether this event will go ahead

Chester's old cathedral, St John's (by the Roman Amphitheatre) is the traditional gathering place for the Minstrels at midsummer. Here we play our music and sing our songs for whoever has come to see this living history event. At lunchtime the minstrels join with the Midsummer Watch Parade around the town centre

Chester Midsummer Watch

Sat/Sun, 20th/21st June 2020

From Chester Town Hall Square 2pm

Again, we don't know yet whether this will take place

Fabulous parade around the city centre to celebrate midsummer

Maranella will be providing the music for Chester's Family of Giants in the parade

Flint Festival - Multi-Period Event

Sat 4th July 2020

Flint Castle

Not cancelled as far as we know - will update nearer the time

Maranella will be providing music, storytelling and dancing for this really enjoyable multi-period event at this most stunning location

Copyright © 2020 Maranella - Last Updated on: 20 Mar 2020

Band Members


Marilyn Farrington

Voice, citole, lute, bagpipes, harp and recorders

Marilyn is a retired music teacher who has played and sung in many bands and choirs over the years. She has a life-long love of early music.


Peter Farrington

Voice, Percussion

Peter has a very fine baritone singing voice and he is rapidly building up a large repertoire of medieval songs.

In Maranella, Peter sings both solos and the bass line in our part songs


Elizabeth Armstrong

Voice, recorders, bagpipes

Elizabeth is a very fine recorder player of all sizes from the tiny sopranino to bass and is an awsome bagpiper!

Elizabeth plays shepherd pipes in G, English border pipes in low D, the small Dudey (bumblebee) pipes in D made by Sean Jones and low C border pipes by Jon Swayne


Ged Armstrong

Citole, lute and bagpipes

Ged is our main plucked strings player. He is a very fine guitarist who brings a wealth of experience to Maranella. He has totally fallen in love with our replica 12th Century Citole, made by Ugo Casalonga in Corsica

Maranella Medieval Minstrels - Instruments

Some of our weird and wonderful instruments


Click the picture for info



Click the picture for info




8-Course Renaissance Lute

No-one really knows how the lute came to Britain but it probably came with returning crusaders. It is an arab instrument derived from the oud. Early lutes were small and had only 4 or 5 courses. Over time the number of courses increased (as did the size of the instrument). Gradually, during the renaissance period, the guitar gained in popularity and eventually the lute was totally eclipsed.

The most popular tuning for the 8-course renaissance lute is (from the lowest sounding string) D F G C F A D G



Citole by Ugo Cassalonga

A faithfull reproduction of the citole depicted in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of over 400 songs to the Virgin Mary produced for Alphonso X of Castille and Leon around 1250

Ugo Cassalonga makes authentic copies of early instruments such as our lovely citole in his workshop on the island of Corsica

This instrument is tuned in open G - from the lowest sounding string: G D G D G



Nakers, frame drums, snare drums, tambour/tabor, timbrels, bells - medieval music just wouldn't work without lots of percussion!


Ardival Crathes Bray harp

Ardival Crathes Bray Harp

The Crathes is a small medieval gut-strung harp with 'bray pins' which, when used, give a buzzing sound to the harp which helps the sound carry a long way! Bray harps are a bit like Marmite - you either love them or hate them. The bray harp gets its name from the braying of a donkey - gives you some idea of the sound :o)

The bray harp is the harp of the middle ages - the sound that everyone was familiar with but Marilyn tends to have the bray pins turned off so that the harp sound is gentler and more 'normal' for modern ears.



Alto rebec from The Early Music Shop - info from their website:
"The EMS alto rebec is an excellent 3 string instrument based on several historic patterns. The body is carved from a single block of wood, there is no soundpost and it has a thin, nasal, penetrating tone"

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Copyright © 2018 Maranella      Last Updated on: 7th February, 2018


Maranella Repertoire

Below is a small selection of pieces from our repertoire

We are gearing up for recording our first CD so good quality sound files will be added as soon as we have them available

Sumer is Icumen In

A lovely, cheerful song that almost everyone will recognise. It is in two parts with a simple, repeating phrase in the bass and the melody over the top. Both the bass line and the melody are best sung as rounds with up to 3 entries for each - quite spectacular if you can find 6 good singers to have a go!

Chanconeta Tedescha

From an early fifteenth-century Tuscan manuscript which is held at the British Museum in London

Chanconeta Tedescha is a lively Italian dance tune which we love to play - one of our favourites

Cantiga de Santa Maria no. 7

The Cantigas de Santa Maria ("Canticles of Holy Mary") are 420 poems with musical notation, written in Galician-Portuguese during the reign of Alfonso X 'The Wise' (1221-1284), king of Castile, Leon and Galicia, and often attributed to him. Each song in this collection mentions the Virgin Mary

Although we do play a lot of the Cantigas de Santa Maria I doubt that we will ever learn all 420!

Miri It Is

A medieval English song (about 1250) mourning the end of summer
Unfortunately only the first verse survives

Miri it is while sumer ilast
With fugheles song
Oc nu neheth windes blast
And weder strong
Ei, ei! What this nicht is long
And ich with wel michel wrong
Soregh and murne and fast

which translates from middle English to:

Merry it is while the summer lasts
With the song of birds
But now draws near the wind's blast
And strong weather
Alas, alas! how long this night is
And I, most unjustly
Sorrow and mourn and fast

Edi beo thu, Hevne Queene

A 13th Century English gymel (a sort of early English polyphony) in praise of the Virgin Mary

Ductias & Estampies

13th & 14th Centuries

Lively and playful tunes - we play several Ductias and Estampies. These are dances / songs from England and Northern France which were popular in the 13th and 14th centuries. Ductias were sometimes sung but Estampies seem to have been purely instrumental pieces.

Ductia is a medieval Latin term used by Johannes de Grocheo (De musica, c 1300) to describe two forms: a type of light, rapid song sung by boys and girls for dances and an instrumental dance.

The Estampie has a very distinctive form with each section repeating a melody first with an 'open' ending, then with a 'closed' one; the same endings are used througout. It appears (from the scant records we have of pre-1400 instrumental pieces) to have been the most common form of instrumental music

Nobody knows for certain whether an Estampie (Istanpitta in Italian) was a dance tune or simply a musical form, but it does mean 'to stamp' which would suggest rather strongly that it was some kind of dance

Lamento di Tristano and La Rotta

Two beautiful 14th Century Italian tunes from a collection in the British Library (Add. 29987). The lament is slow and mournful and then the dance tune La Rotta (an Estampie probably) livens things up quite a bit. These two tunes always seem to be played as a set and the combination of slow air followed by lively dance really does work

Ah Robin, Gentle Robin

A very beautiful song by William Cornish (1465-1523), Master of the Kynge's Musick to Henry VIII

Many of the pieces formerly thought to have been written by the king are now known to have been composed by Cornish. He was a prolific and very talented composer and we play and sing several of his pieces. Although Cornish flourished during the start of the Renaissance musical period, his music is still very much medieval in style and form

This song finds a young man confiding in a robin redbreast his fears that his lady no longer loves him; the anguished phrase 'she will change for no new' leaves us in no real doubt that she already has!

Christmas / Yuletide Songs and Tunes

Nowel Syng We

English 13th century carol—the title says it all, really

Bring us in Good Ale

Yuletide drinking song we believe to be from the 15th Century

Ecce Mundi Gaudium

Anglo-Norman rondellus, c1250

Green Growth the Holly (Grene Grouth the Holy)

A really beautiful yuletide song known in the time of Henry VIII. Some sources attribute the song to him but that's very doubtful

This list is just a small selection from our repertoire but might give a feel for the type of music we enjoy playing and singing

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Copyright © 2017 Maranella - Last Updated on: 12th January, 2018


Maranella Period Instruments - Recorders

Medieval and renaissance wide-bore recorders

Below is just a small selection of the recorders owned and played by members of Maranella
Between us we own many, many more ...
er ... um... perhaps too many to admit to :)

Some of our collection

Mollenhauer Dream Bass

Renaissance wide-bore bass recorder designed by Adriana Breukink in pear wood with beautiful, turned rings in darker wood. The wide bore gives a full, rich sound which blends well

Mollenhauer Dream BassIn theory it has a full two octave range but, in practice, we find it is limited to just an octave and a half of 'listener-friendly' notes - from F below middle C to the C above

Mollenhauer Kynseker Tenor

Kynseker TenorRenaissance wide-bore tenor recorder in plum wood.  A very beautiful recorder with a distinctive, rich sound.  The stretch for the right hand would defeat many players but Elizabeth seems to cope ok!

Approx. 60cm long

Below is our very beautiful Moeck Renaissance Tenor with Fontanelle

Moeck Renaissance Tenor with Fontanelle

Mollenhauer Dream Alto

Mollenhauer Dream AltoTo a recorder player, if you say 'recorder' they automatically think 'alto' since that's the flute of the medieval and renaissance period (flute a bec or beaked flute) and is the instrument that people like Teleman wrote for.

Pictured is our Mollenhauer Dream in pear wood with darker wood ring.  Renaissance, wide bore and a full, rich sound.

We also have a Mollenhauer Kynseker alto which looks exactly the same as the tenor but smaller (about 45cm long) and a Moeck Renaissance Alto

Ganassi Soprano Recorder by Phillipe Bolton

This is the size of recorder that most people think of when we say 'recorder' - approx. 30cm long

Phillipe Bolton RecorderGanassi soprano made by Phillipe Bolton from France

A renaissance wide-bore Ganassi recorder with a most beautiful, singing tone - a real joy to play

Mollenhauer Kynseker Sopranino

Kynseker SopraninoSmaller than the soprano (descant) and with the lowest note F like the Alto and Bass - an octave higher than the alto
This is in plumwood and is very high and clear but not shrill

Just out of interest ...

Mollenhauer Dream Soprano Recorder

Mollenhauer Dream soprano in pear wood painted red and with gilded rings

In medieval times life wasn't nearly as drab and brown as people of our era suppose; musicians, in particular, would have been dressed in the brightest colours they could afford and instruments would have been painted and gilded to make them look expensive.  Raw, unpainted wood would have been anathema to our minstrels because it would make them look poor and therefore, by implication, not very good musicians.

The dream recorder is very loud and can cut through other instruments to make itself heard and yet still has a beautiful singing voice and a full, two-octave range.

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Copyright © 2016 Maranella - Last Updated 9th February, 2018

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Bagpipes in Maranella Medieval Band

In Maranella we have English Shepherd pipes, Dudey pipes and English Border pipes by Sean Jones and Swedish sackpipa by Alban Faust

English Border Pipes in D made by Sean Jones

picture border pipes

Fabulous low D three drone English Border pipes in Bubinga wood (a type of rosewood) made by Sean Jones in his workshop at Biddulph Moor in Staffordshire

Elizabeth's low D borders have three bell-ended drones.  The sound is fantastic,really rich, full and very beautiful.  The bore is cylindricalwhich makes it quite loud although not nearly so loud as highland pipes - it's still ok to play them indoors - and, crucially, the cylindrical bore extends the range.  By overblowing it is possible to play notes in the second octave giving a total range of an octave and a half.  When Elizabeth plays these pipes in duet with Marilyn on the Swedish sackpipa they don't overpower the cylindrical bore sackpipa and the two totally different types of pipe sound really good together - a bonus we hadn't expected!

Quote from Sean's website: "In Britain the much louder highland pipes have dominated but we have our own version of the French and Flemish pipes, the border pipes.  As the name suggests it was played in the Scottish borders and is now having a bit of a renaissance.  There is little difference acoustically between the traditional French bagpipe and the border pipes ..."

English Shepherd Pipes in G made by Sean Jones

picture Shepherd pipes

Beautiful, single drone Shepherd pipes in Bubinga wood (a type of rosewood) made by Sean Jones in his workshop in Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire

Shepherd pipes are, in essence, English border pipes but with only a single drone.  Elizabeth's set, in beautiful close-grained bubinga wood, are bellows blown with a switch to make them mouth blown.  Marilyn's set, also from Sean, are in flame bubinga wood and are mouth blown.

Swedish Bagpipes (Sackpipa) made by Alban Faust

Picture Swedish sackpipa

Very beautiful Swedish bagpipes in curly grained birch wood with reindeer horn and ebony rings made by Alban Faust in his workshop in Ör, Frestersbyn in Sweden.

Swedish sackpipa are smallpipes i.e. they have a cylindrical bore making the sound much softer and quieter than the conical bore of the border and shepherd pipes.  The cylindrical bore also limits the range to just an octave plus one note.  This particular set of Swedish pipes is in D with a low D drone which can be retuned to C or E making these pipes very versatile.  With the drone stop out the drone is an E so standard Swedish E/A tunes are playable providing they don't go too high. With the drone stop in, the drone is a low D so the pipes can be played with the borders in D where, even though they are much quieter, they are not drowned out because of the totally different timbre.  With the drone tuned to a C the pipes can play tunes in C - three instruments in one !

Quote from Alban's website:

    "The Swedish bagpipes, which is distinguishable by its warm, soft sound, has got many friends throughout the whole world.    My reconstruction of the so called ”Västerdala” pipes is a mixture of the ten preserved instruments we have in the country (there not one is similar to another!). Furthermore my studies of related bagpipes from the continent have been of great benefit.     The Swedish bagpipes is a so called clarinet-instrument, as the sound is produced through a single reed which sits on a cylindrically drilled chanter. Traditionally it is a mouth blown instrument with one short drone (high tuned) which is identical to the lowest tone on the chanter (6 fingering). There is also a single reed in the drone, as in almost all drones." 

Alban Faust's Website

Dudey Pipes (Hummelchen) made by Sean Jones

Elizabeth playing Dudey pipes

People who don't like bagpipes, when they hear the Dudeys, say "aren't they lovely; I didn't know bagpipes could sound like that!"  So ... bagpipes for people who don't like bagpipes!

The Dudey is a three drone Hummelchen or 'bumblebee' pipe, the renaissance German smallpipe drawn by Praetorius.  It has a cylindrical bore unlike the border and shepherd pipes which have a conical bore, and is therefore much quieter and softer in tone - like the gentle buzzing of a bumblebee

From Sean's website: Dudey - "The dudey is drawn by Praetorius in the 17th Century.  Its closest modern relative is the Scottish smallpipe.  My Dudey is really a cross-fingering smallpipe designed to have the soft hollow tone of the samallpipes/northumbrian pipes.  The drones provide a solid "humm" underneath the chanter and don't compete with it"

Marilyn's dudey pipes are made from laburnum wood with a brown leather bag.  Like all dudeys made by Sean, they are in D and have three drones, D-A-D.  The laburnum wood darkens over time and these pipes are now a lovely deep brown; eventually the wood will go very dark brown, almost black

Elizabeth's dudey pipes, in flame bubinga wood, are absolutely stunning to look at with the red flamed wood and black leather bag - beautiful.

picture Elizabeth

Elizabeth with her Sean Jones shepherd pipes

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Copyright © 2016 Maranella - Last Updated 15 March 2016