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The Minstrels’ Gallery
MOCK HOBBY HORSE
The Minstrels’ Gallery

MOCK HOBBY HORSE come from varied and extraordinary musical backgrounds & perform on a collection of beautiful instruments usually associated with Medieval, Middle Eastern and European folk musics. Some of these are reproductions of medieval instruments and were made especially for them, but they also made some of the instruments themselves (and could do the same for you).

To find out more about the music, the instruments & the musicians of
MOCK HOBBY HORSE, set some music playing and explore the gallery (click on the pictures for a closer view).

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Skeletons dancing, medieval engraving adapted Howard Harrison © 2015

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Howard Frey dancing a farandole whilst playing the mandolin. Howard also plays percussion and guitar.

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Julia Thomas, voice, bagpipes, concertina, whistle & recorder.

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English Concertina. Although actually our oldest instrument dating from the early 20th Century the medieval equivalent would have been a portative organ or regal. Julia tends to play medieval tunes on the concertina with plenty of drones to attempt to evoke a more ancient feel to the music

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Julia’s bagpipes are made by Julian Goodacre who specialises in historical reproductions of bagpipes. Her “red” set are in A and are slightly louder and more strident than those in the next picture, due to the conical bore on the chanter.

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Julia’s ‘green’ bagpipes in yew and cherry are Leicestershire smallpipes and are in D or C. These simple bagpipes with nine notes and one drone would have been heard all over medieval and renaissance Europe.

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The goblet shaped darbuka, dumbec or tabla is found all over Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. There are many examples in medieval icongraphy.

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Howard Frey, Mock Hobby Horse, playing a fish-skin tambourine.

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Close-up of the fish-skin.

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Julia, Howard and Russell play a lively medieval dance, Branle d'Escosse

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Russell adds the haunting sound of his kemencheh to the song.

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Howard made his mandolin back in 1986. It has a sitka spruce top and flame maple back, neck and sides. He is now preparing to make some more mandolins with a slightly longer scale length. The equivalent instrument in Tudor times would be a cittern with its four courses of wire strings. Citterns famously could be found hanging in barbershops for the use of customers while they waited. But Howard doesn’t do haircuts.

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Howard accompanies the 13th Century English song "Bird an a Briar".

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Nick and Julia singing the chorus of "Cuncti simus concanentes”, a 14th century Spanish pilgrim song.

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The Oud, which literally means 'the wood' in Arabic, is of ancient provenance and is widely considered to be amongst the most important and influential musical instruments to have come from the Middle East. It is the predecessor of the European Renaissance lute and ultimately the Guitar. The Oud has a full, rich sound assisted by its deep, round hardwood back and wide spruce top. The Oud's 11 strings are tuned in various ways, but usually in 4th's, a typical tuning from low to high being D G A D G C. The Oud, like the Kemencheh, was introduced into Europe in the Middle ages through cultural contact with the wider Mediterranean region.

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Russell has studied and performed Middle Eastern music since the mid 1980's, studying oud and saz with Ustat Ozdemir in Turkey and then broadening his study to include Arabic instrumental styles, specialising in Oud and Percussion.

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Nick started playing the bouzouki after immersing himself in Greek culture whilst working in Thessaly in 1989. He has been adding its distinctive voice and his singing voice to Mock Hobby Horse for 10 years.

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The bouzouki belongs to the family of long necked wire strung instruments of the Near East which were second in importance only to the lute itself. Its round backed body is small relative to its long neck. Still played in many countries formerly under Ottoman rule the Turkish version is called saz. The Greek bouzouki is often highly decorated.

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Most of the hand held percussion we play would have arrived in Europe from the middle east from the time of the crusades or into Spain with the Moors.

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Taking a break.

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Russell also teaches Oud and Percussion

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The Kemencheh - a member of the large Asiatic and north African spike-fiddle group of chordophones , usually consisting of a small, rounded wooden body, the front of which is covered in a membrane such as fish or fine goatskin. There is a long thin neck/fingerboard attached with an integrated pegbox, to house the four steel strings which are tuned in 4th’s; A D G C, low to high. The instrument is held upright, either resting on the leg, lap or on the floor. The bow is usually shorter and often more curved than that of the European violin. The timbre of the Kemencheh is dry, nasal and often compared to that of the human voice. Instruments of similar construction such as the Rebec and Rebab appeared in Europe during the Medieval period through contact with Arab, Turkish and Berber cultures.

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Riqq or tambourine.

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Howard Frey dancing a farandole whilst playing the mandolin. Howard also plays percussion and guitar.

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Julia Thomas, voice, bagpipes, concertina, whistle & recorder.

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English Concertina. Although actually our oldest instrument dating from the early 20th Century the medieval equivalent would have been a portative organ or regal. Julia tends to play medieval tunes on the concertina with plenty of drones to attempt to evoke a more ancient feel to the music

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Julia’s bagpipes are made by Julian Goodacre who specialises in historical reproductions of bagpipes. Her “red” set are in A and are slightly louder and more strident than those in the next picture, due to the conical bore on the chanter.

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Julia’s ‘green’ bagpipes in yew and cherry are Leicestershire smallpipes and are in D or C. These simple bagpipes with nine notes and one drone would have been heard all over medieval and renaissance Europe.

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The goblet shaped darbuka, dumbec or tabla is found all over Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. There are many examples in medieval icongraphy.

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Howard Frey, Mock Hobby Horse, playing a fish-skin tambourine.

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Close-up of the fish-skin.

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Julia, Howard and Russell play a lively medieval dance, Branle d'Escosse

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Russell adds the haunting sound of his kemencheh to the song.

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The Kemencheh - a member of the large Asiatic and north African spike-fiddle group of chordophones , usually consisting of a small, rounded wooden body, the front of which is covered in a membrane such as fish or fine goatskin. There is a long thin neck/fingerboard attached with an integrated pegbox, to house the four steel strings which are tuned in 4th’s; A D G C, low to high. The instrument is held upright, either resting on the leg, lap or on the floor. The bow is usually shorter and often more curved than that of the European violin. The timbre of the Kemencheh is dry, nasal and often compared to that of the human voice. Instruments of similar construction such as the Rebec and Rebab appeared in Europe during the Medieval period through contact with Arab, Turkish and Berber cultures.

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Howard made his mandolin back in 1986. It has a sitka spruce top and flame maple back, neck and sides. He is now preparing to make some more mandolins with a slightly longer scale length. The equivalent instrument in Tudor times would be a cittern with its four courses of wire strings. Citterns famously could be found hanging in barbershops for the use of customers while they waited. But Howard doesn’t do haircuts.

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Howard accompanies the 13th Century English song "Bird an a Briar".

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Nick and Julia singing the chorus of "Cuncti simus concanentes”, a 14th century Spanish pilgrim song.

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The Oud, which literally means 'the wood' in Arabic, is of ancient provenance and is widely considered to be amongst the most important and influential musical instruments to have come from the Middle East. It is the predecessor of the European Renaissance lute and ultimately the Guitar. The Oud has a full, rich sound assisted by its deep, round hardwood back and wide spruce top. The Oud's 11 strings are tuned in various ways, but usually in 4th's, a typical tuning from low to high being D G A D G C. The Oud, like the Kemencheh, was introduced into Europe in the Middle ages through cultural contact with the wider Mediterranean region.

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Russell has studied and performed Middle Eastern music since the mid 1980's, studying oud and saz with Ustat Ozdemir in Turkey and then broadening his study to include Arabic instrumental styles, specialising in Oud and Percussion.

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Nick started playing the bouzouki after immersing himself in Greek culture whilst working in Thessaly in 1989. He has been adding its distinctive voice and his singing voice to Mock Hobby Horse for 10 years.

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The bouzouki belongs to the family of long necked wire strung instruments of the Near East which were second in importance only to the lute itself. Its round backed body is small relative to its long neck. Still played in many countries formerly under Ottoman rule the Turkish version is called saz. The Greek bouzouki is often highly decorated.

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Most of the hand held percussion we play would have arrived in Europe from the middle east from the time of the crusades or into Spain with the Moors.

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Taking a break.

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Russell also teaches Oud and Percussion

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Riqq or tambourine.


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© Mock Hobby Horse 2015
Website designed and built by :
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Calligraphy: Howard Frey
Photography © Howard Harrison 2015

Our friends & colleagues -

Ensemble Baklava
Flaxey Green \ Folk Music in South Devon
Elfic \ Juggler and Jester
Julian Goodacre \ Bagpipe Maker
The Bagpipe Society
Russell Harris \ Middle Eastern Music and Dance