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Lyre or Hearpe

Brian Kay

The lyre is the oldest known instrument in the British Isles. It was used by the Celts, Vikings, and later by scops - old English bards - in the great halls of Anglo Saxon kings. An artifact from one of these instruments was found in the Island of Skye and is thought to date from around the 5th century b.c.e. It was most commonly played in Scandinavia, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Many modern instruments resemble this type of lyre, such as the Finnish Jouhikko and the Welsh Crwth. 

Sir Mannelig (Herr Mannelig)

Swedish story about a pagan maid proposing to a christian knight

Bryd One Brere

Early Middle English song, sung and played on Anglo-Saxon Lyre


Brian Kay

More music was written for the lute in the 16th century than all other instruments combined. Professional lutenists shared the same status as famous artists like Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. By the year 1500, the lute had six courses (pairs of strings) and by the end of the 17th century had as many as 14 courses and could play five octaves. Stravinski is quoted as saying that the lute "is perhaps the most perfect instrument of all."  


Toccata 7 - G.G.Kapsberger

Performed live at the Kennedy Center

Brian Kay - Archlute

If I Were A Blackbird

Traditional Scottish song, sung and played on Renaissance lute


Brian Kay

The earliest documentation of the komuz is from the 6th century b.c.e. Images of the instrument appear on ancient Egyptian tombs, iconography from the Middle East, Central Asia (where it is still very popular), and even in a 13th century Spanish manuscript which contains images of Muslims, Jews, and Christians making music and singing songs together. 

Douce Dame Jolie

Composed by Guillaume de Machaut

(c.1300 - 1377)


Nottamun Town

Traditional Medieval & Appalachian ballad


Brian Kay

The oud is so old that its origins have been lost in the mists of time. The most ancient stories about its development come from the Koran and from ancient Rome. The oud was brought to the western world by Moors around the year 711 and was likely  brought to various parts of Europe by Crusaders. It may have even been played in Scandinavian lands long before it was played by Christians because vikings travelled and traded in the Meditarranean. It is one of few instruments so ancient that is still played and has never fallen out of popularity. 

As Froles Do Meu Amigo

Composed by Pai Gomes Charinho (13th c.)

Quantas Sabedes Amar Amigo - Oud, Doumbec & Voice

13th c. Spanish love song composed by Martim Codax

Lamento di Tristano

14th. c Italian music performed on Oud

Banjer (fretless gourd banjo)

The fretless gourd banjo, or more appropriately, the banjer, is a very early American instrument. It was developed and played by African slaves, who based it off of traditional African instruments. The sound is mellower, and the playing technique is different from modern banjo because the instrument uses gut instead of metal strings.

Wayfaring Stranger - Gourd Banjo (Banjer) & Voice 

American Traditional


Most of the instruments I play are thought to be "guitar-like" instruments from various cultures around the globe and throughout history. That isn't far off the mark, as many of the instruments I play are related to the guitar in one way or another, even if they aren''t considered to be part of the same family. It would take too much time to go into the many styles of guitar for the purposes of this page, but suffice it to say that I play many different kinds of guitars and have studied the techniques of each. 


Original song from the album Moonsong

Polo Margariteño - Baroque Guitar & Voice

Venezuelan Traditional

Drums & Percussion

Most of the instruments that I specialize in are plucked, but my first instrument was, in fact, drum set. Once I discovered my passion for the various musical traditions of the world, it was natural for me to transition from drum set to world percussion. I now own and play over 20 world percussion instruments and have been featured in concerts and on recordings by Trio Sefardi, Hesperus, Divisio, and the Peabody Consort. I still enjoy playing drum set as well, and my playing can be heard on my newest album Moonsong.

Tambourine Solo (Riq)

Improvisation on the Middle Eastern Tambourine

Doumbec & Riq solo 

Improvisation in 25/16

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