The instruments PIVA use in their performances are all reproductions of surviving originals or reconstructions based on historical evidence.

All the instruments have been made by modern specialist makers, including the group’s director, Eric Moulder. The group must be unique in that 3 of its members are professional instrument makers.

Hurdy Gurdies

An instrument which dates back to early medieval times, the hurdy gurdy is a drone based instrument. The melody strings, played on a keyboard, are enhanced by the trompette, which provides a percussive rhythm.


Different in both sound and construction to today’s ubiquitous school descant version.  A renaissance recorder consort has a full, mellow sound that mirrors that of a chamber organ. 


Very much the instrument of choice for dancing, bagpipes were played in the royal court as well as on the village green.  Piva is helping to popularise the resurgence of this great instrument!  We play English bagpipes in G, D and C as well as a Spanish Gaita.

Shawms and Curtals

Originally thought to have been developed from the middle eastern zurna, the shawm first appeared in Europe in the 13th century.  The group plays sopranino, soprano, alto and tenor shawms.   The curtals developed in the middle of the 16th century and the bass is the ancestor of the modern bassoon.  

Violin, Viol and Guitar

Originally a dance instrument used only by professional court musicians, the violin quickly spread throughout Europe and became the instrument of choice for all types of music.

Viols were made in a range of sizes but it was the bass viol that became the dominant instrument.

Nothing like today’s modern guitar, its renaissance ancestor was played in a more percussive manner.  It’s surprisingly loud for such a small instrument.

Crumhorns & Rauschpfeifen

Crumhorns are an instrument synonymous with the 16th century.  Played in consorts, our instruments all have cane reeds giving them a particularly a full and gutsy sound.  The rauschpfeifen are one of the loudest reed instruments from the period and are also blown through a windcap.

medieval musical instrument


Cornetts are hybrid instruments, blown with a cup-shaped mouthpiece like a trumpet, but fingered like woodwinds. Usually made in wood and covered in leather or parchment, they were made in various sizes, from the high cornettino to the low tenor. Characterised by their curve there was also a straight version, or mute cornett, which has an integral mouthpiece. They are fiendishly difficult to play well but they are capable of great flexibility and expression.