QuintEssential Sackbut and Cornett Ensemble
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in th' cellar he will make dainty music among the sackbuts

In 1623 Fletcher wrote in his Rule a Wife that in th' cellar he will make dainty music among the sackbuts. At this time sack was another name for wine and a but was the word used to describe a large barrel. A pun of this kind illustrates the long association that wine and music have had with revelry and hedonism. Drink promotes merriment, it lends Dutch courage, it loosens the tongue which, on occasion leads to fights and, in excess, it inevitably leads to a sore head. The music which has survived to the present day was of course written down, so we have only our imagination to rely on when we muse upon what the mediaeval and renaissance equivalent of our rugby songs would have sounded like. Judging by the texts available, the songs of the past paid little respect to the sensibilities of the prudish.