And certeinly he hadde a murye note:
Wel koude he synge and pleyen on a rote;
Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.
(= And certainly he had a pleasing voice / He could sing well, and play on a lute / For playing ballads he definitely took the prize)
Chaucer swings from quite a heavy ironical condemnation of the Friar’s morals to cheerily praising his musical ability.
‘Note’ is cognate with what we’d call a musical note today, but it was more flexible in Chaucer’s day. ‘Rote’ is a general word for a stringed instrument; the differentiation wasn’t as precise in the late 1300s. ‘Yeddynges’ means ‘ballads’.
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