Diabolus in Muſica is the ſtyle and title of a band of fyne minſtrels, the whiche are become of late much famed in thys lande through the playinge by them of ſundrye pavans, galyards, almaynes, French Brawls, and manie other ſuche fyne ayres and fancies, alle writ in the dayes of oure late greate Quene Elizabeth, as cauſe greate delighte to alle that heare them, for that they have been but ſeldom hearde in thys lande theeſe manie hundreds of yeares.
The chiefeſt of theese Mynſtrels were heretofore Maſter Paul Baker of Kynges Swinforde, and Mistreſs Pamela Smith now of Sutton Bridge; the whyche are pourtayed above. Yet ſince so manie fyne persons of qualitie, having a grete lykyng of dauncing and jeſtyng, have uppon ſundrie occaſions enjoyned Master Baker alſo to bee Maſter of the Revels, Maſter of Dauncyng, Lord of Miſrule and other honorary Titles, eache of lytel conſequence, but requiring ſome ſmal laboure in the performing on 'em, wherin he oft hath no leiſure to folowe his true Profeſsion of the playinge of Inſtrumentes; thus are we oft wont to engage alſo Maſter David Jarratt-Knock of Dorridge, a verie fyne and much renowned Gentleman of Muſick, to plaie thoſe thinges that Maſter Baker cannot, while he pranceth aboute and maketh merrye with the Companie. And likewiſe the grete ſcholar and artificer, Maſter Martin Cummins of Dunton Baſsett, ofte nowe is ſummoned to plaie uppon his noble Aſsemblye of Inſtumentes. (Alas, the Images of thoſe laſt mentioned gentlemen oure Painter hath not yet encaptured).
That theſe antick workes be hearde arighte, Diabolus in Muſica muſt perforce playe not uppon ſuch ſtraunge inſtrumentes of muſick as are nowe in faſhion, but uppon goode inſtrumentes of Elizabeths daye; the whiche muſt nowe bee made anewe by maſters of the reſpective Gilds, after the true faſhion of thoſe fewe that ſurvive ſtill in houſes of learning, and the like. And manie more, indeed, are made of Diabolus in Muſica, at the handes of the muſicians themſelves.
Diabolus in Muſica playe not neither in the modern maner, but have ſpent much tyme and laboure in the learnyng of the true manner of playing of the ſixteenth centurye, whyche conſiſteth muche in the makyng of diviſions. That is to ſaye, that a minſtrel ſhal have in hys hedd a goode and pleaſant tune (of preference, one that al men knowe) and ſhall embelyſh it at the moment of pleyinge with ſuch runns, paſsages, turnes and the like, as his fancye ſhall commaund, to the verie limit of hys invention. And yf oure invention fayleth us not, manie perſons, hearing us, will have old to knowe what tis we playe; for though ſome auncient famed dittie will doubtleſs be at the hearte of the mater, yet tis hid beneathe ſuch a bramble of diviſions that no man knoweth it. Wherefore, an you heare anie pleaſaunt muſick proceeding from theſe fyne Minſtrels, note yt well: for oft tis ſene that it is come forth from theyre heades uppon that inſtant, is intirely unique, and ſhal never be hearde in preciſely that guiſe againe.
The lykneſse at the Heade of thys Page was made by Mr. Apelbye, a painter of oure acquaintance, who is muche famed in theſe partes, and hath grete ſkyll, as may convenientlye bee diſcerned. Should you wiſh to employe him to make yowre pourtraite, we praye you ſende worde to us, and thus wee ſhall tell you of hys whereabouts.