Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hallie and I were at Rogers recording some video yesterday morning. The security to get in there is like Fort Knox. There was pizza and chicken wings in the green room. I meant to take pictures but I had chicken wing sauce on my fingers.

We played a movement from the Vivaldi cantata. I'll post that when I get a link, but in the meantime here is a link to Jorge, Hallie and me on Classical 96. Stream videos at Ustream

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today is St. Lucy's Day. Before they adjusted the calendar it was the shortest day. Here is a John Donne poem about it. It's thought that poem is for Lucy, Countess of Bedford. She, pictured here by Isaac Oliver, was patron of Donne and John Danyel and was the dedicatee of John Dowland's Second Book of Songs. Here's a link to download an mp3 of the greatest hit from that book Flow my teares. This song started out as a lute pavan (a kind of slow dance), then was in this song version, the was the basis of seven pavans in Lachrimae or Seaven Teares. Other composers would quote it when mentioning tears or melancholy for about a hundred years.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Did I say today was Caccini's birthday? I meant burial day, in 1618. He published a book called Le nuove musiche (The New Music) in 1602, so that's the date that the Baroque started on. (I think it's July 12th at 4:20 in the afternoon). Anyway, if you have a book printed your repertoire gets looked at more by scholars and then gets thought of as the happenin' music of its time, though old Cosimo Bottegari didn't think he needed much in his gigbook.

Caccini and the other early Baroque composers were imitating the Ancient Greeks, who they knew declaimed their music in the rhythm of speech.

Here's the link to Hallie and me singing Caccini's greatest hit. Amarilli. The translation is:

Amarilli, my fair,
do you not believe you are my love, heart's desire?
Believe it and if doubt assails you,
take my arrow open my breast,
and you will find written on my heart:
Amarilli is my love.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today is the birthday (or at least the baptism day) of Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605). He is best known as a writer of madrigal comedies. The piece you can download here is from his Selva di varia ricreatione (1590) where it is an 'Aria a 4' with a lute tablature reduction of the parts. The live recording of us is from the Bottegari Lute Song Book where it's for one voice and lute (there's a few little differences in the lute part). Cosimo Bottegari worked for Grand Dukes Cosimo and Ferdinando dei Medici of Tuscany. His manuscript lute song book has only one song by Giulio Caccini in it, though he was working for Ferdinand at the same time. To read music history books you'd have the impression that Caccini and his co-proto-baroquist Jacopo Peri quite cleared the ground of madrigals etc. with their New Music, but the workaday songbook of Bottegari seems to give the lie to that. Maybe the avant-gardists were only brought out to impress the visitors. Anyway, it's Caccini's birthday in a few days, so more about him then.

Vecchi's Selva has a 10 voice dialogue between Happiness and Melancholy that would be nice to do some time; maybe contrasting with the Duke of Melancholy, Don Gesualdo. If you like So ben, send large bills to the address on the MIO site to support that project.

You can follow along with the words on the page from Vecchi's book pictured.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MIO activities from the last few days have included some more music choosing. Though the blurb for the concert says I'll be playing archlute and theorbo on this show I was reading about a manuscript of guitar music that appears to have been written for the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I himself. This handsome guy is pictured here in a sculpture by a Matthias Steinl in the last years of the 17th century. I don't think the Habsburg chin is helped very much by the soul patch style beard. Or is it a mole?

Anyway, despite, or maybe because of the lack of genetic variety in Leo's family tree, he was a pretty talented musician. The music in the manuscript is probably by Orazio Clementi, who was theorbo player at the Imperial court.

When Clementi was getting on in years they hired Francesco Conti to help out with the duties. As noted in a post below, his music is hard to find, despite him being a 'very important historical figure'®. There is a cantata by him in a manuscript in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The music manuscripts from the Bodleian are all available on microfilm so I got them to dig the right one out of the boxes in the back of the Faculty of Music library at UofT and printed it out. So we will (perhaps) be giving this Conti cantata its North American premiere on New Year's Day.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Since today is St. Andrew's Day here is a live performance of The Musicians In Ordinary performing a piece by the Scottish composer Robert Johnson (not the same one who wrote music for Shakespeare plays and not the 1930s bluesman). Benedicam Domino was written in the 1560s after he had fled to England for some heresy. The arrangement for one voice and lute is one of the few examples of lute song from before John Dowland's First Book of Songs (1597).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Saturday Hallie and I played a private party in Port Credit for a friend of ours. The theme was Italian so we did some guitar songs (Eri gia - Monteverdi, Dalla porta d'oriente - Caccini, Cantatas on Passacaglia and Ciacona by Sances ++). We included the Spanish texted ones from Naples from the manuscript that belonged to Adriana Basile. She was Monteverdi's contralto for a while. She was also chased up and down Italy by the Marquess of Mantua; once again the border between courtesan and singer blurs.

I've spent the last couple of days looking at Spanish sites of digitised books and music like the Cantigas de Santa Maria the Llibre Vermell and many, many more as they used to say on the K-tel ads. It's brave new world.

Above is a page from a book in the Portuguese National Library that has a modhino accompanied by two guitars (ie. Portuguese guitars) and a viola (ie. a Baroque guitar). That ensemble's been accompanying for a little while then. Tudo isto é fado.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yesterday I met with Alexandra Guerson over a coffee. She is a PhD student in History at University of Toronto doing race relations in Iberia in the late Middle Ages. She grew up in Brazil. We talked about some Spanish/Portuguese/Latin American concerts we'd been thinking about and I showed her some music. Then I went to visit Konrad Eisenbichler of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies and talked about what to do for his Michelangelo and Early Modern Media classes, and when. Went over to Hallie's and chose some music for Darryl Edwards to sing in our Feb. concert but didn't sing since she was a bit under the weather. And the weather is crap. Here is a picture of a festival in Brazil. Carlos Julião, Coroação de um Rei nos Festejos de Reis (watercolour, c . 1776 ) (Rio de Janeiro, Biblioteca Nacional). Toronto doesn't look like this today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I sat in the UofT music library yesterday looking for a cantata by Francesco Conti (who was theorbo player at the Viennese court in the early 18th c.) to do on the New Year's Day concert. Conti's best known work is a four movement motet that had oboes and I think a viola part added to it by J.S. Bach.

There are eight cantatas by Conti printed in facsimile by SPES editions. They use some combinations of voice, continuo, chalemeau (an early clarinet), oboe, flute and 'leuto francese'. This last instrument is a d-minor Baroque lute like you would use in Bach's John Passion and the part's written out in tablature. Very unusual for an Italian composer to be playing one of those. None of the cantatas use just violin and leuto franc. and continuo, though, so unless we add a wind player.

I got carried away and was fantasizing about playing Conti's sonata for mandolin (it would be gut strung and played with the fingers, as was Vivaldi's). Luckily it appears that the manuscript in a Czech library has not been printed in facsimile anywhere, else I might have started learning to play another instrument, which is all I need.

Hallie's back from Bloomington now. We'll choose some repertoire for a couple of house concerts at the end of this week today. I have been reading through some seguidillas by Fernando Sor, a Spanish guitarist of the late 18th-early 19th century, on a modern classical guitar. It's hard to get the thing to sound with no nails. Maybe Santa will bring me a circa 1800 instrument for Xmas.

Here's a picture of an Italian mandolin taken by David Jensen when he was fixing someone's harpsichord.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Previously on MIO

Here are some bloglike things I had written for the Musicians In Ordinary Facebook page. I thought non-Facebook users might have insomnia too and could use them to help get to sleep.

9:10pm on October 15th, 2008
This morning I dropped off the stripey guitar with Mike Schriener as it has been buzzing a bit since I put the gut strings on. Then I went to York U to check on the progress of the translations with Prof. Ellen Anderson, then to Hallie's to rehearse for a while. Came home and worked on my solo music for a while.

7:55am on October 17th, 2008
I have been trying to decipher (literally, since I think one uses chord charts they called 'cifras') two pieces from a Mexican manuscript: Portorico de los negros and Panama. (I don't think it's the Van Halen one, though LA was part of New Spain then and some tunes stayed in the rep for a long, long time.) It's not even clear what instrument it's for. Craig Russell says requinto jarrocho, James Tyler says cittern. It doesn't help there are only two pages of music in an article by Russell in the journal Ars Musica Denver (you'd think they'd have Latinised 'Denverium').

11:14am on October 18th, 2008
Ok, So we have been foolishly depending on a 'scholarly' edition of one of the Aranies songs which is in an anthology of 17th c Spanish songs in a series printed by an academic publisher. After breaking the back of the song with the edition we went back to the facsimile, which I had got from a library in Bologna, not least of which because it was on one page instead of four. And, lo, it turns out that Prof. X of Swankypants Univ. has got the key wrong. Particularly in partsong and choral music in the 15 and 1600s they would use clef combinations that meant transpose down a 4th. Though the Aranies song is only 2 parts (sop. and figured bass) it has this high clef combination. The alfabeto guitar chords over the singing part are in a minor, where the sop. and bass should transpose to, but the editor has transposed the guitar chords rather than the staff notation. (After all, everyone knows that anything to do with a plucked instrument is not as dependable as real music).

You'd think he would have noticed that the singing part was unusually high. (We were going to do that one with the guitar at a=392, ie. a tone lower.) Anyway, the moral of the story is, never use modern editions for anything because musicologists are not dependable. They are too busy sewing patches on their tweedy jackets and gossiping about who has tenure to try out the music and notice something's wrong.

4:00pm on October 21st, 2008
We are debuting some of our new repertoire at a fundraiser for the Pia Bouman School of dance tonight at the Drake Hotel. I'll be using the stripey guitar that Mike Schreiner has fixed up. Some braces inside had come loose (I knew I shouldn't have played it in the shower that time) and it was starting to fold up. He put a shim on the bridge too so the action is high enough that I can smack it with impunity and still not buzz. It sounds better today than yesterday as it settles in.

Also, the first line of one of the songs from the Juan Aranies book that we got the originals from the Civico Bib. in Bologna is puzzling Spanish scholars across North America. It goes “Miza gala sus paños en que vgi y tuerze" though the v may be a y. Miza means tabby cat and gala means an adornment according to Ellen Anderson. If anyone has any ideas ... It's published in Rome so maybe the Italian printer made a hash of the Spanish.

5:15pm on October 24th, 2008
Jorge arrived yesterday. He is staying with our no. 1 fan Joan Robinson. Hallie made blackened fish for dinner and then we rehearsed and enjoyed some ice cream and refreshing cordials. Got home rather late considering we had to rehearse a little more for a live to air thing on Classical 96.3 radio this morning. Turns out they have streaming video on the internets and there we were, shall we say, groomed for radio. We had lunch at Pho Hung and then to the Heliconian Hall for rehearsal for a few hours. We're meeting at 8 tonight for a last blast at some pieces especially the ones with theorbo. Phillip III had 2 'tiorvia's in an inventory of the Royal instruments in 1602. Have to go and learn some solos now.

10:34pm on October 26th, 2008
Well, I am starting to decompress from the concert. It went not bad for a first whack at that repertoire (both specific and that genre). The research that went into it was a good beginning so we need to find some other venues to have a reason for continuing down that road. Next year's Jackman Humanities thingy at the UofT is 'Stresses on the Human' so Hallie and I talked about something about the music smashing of the Angola/Brazil/Iberia triangle. And there's some foundation that funded the Toronto Consort's recent Marco Polo project that is about culture smashing. Maybe we can get some funding there.

3:03pm on October 30th, 2008
The beginning of the week was rather mundane with deposits of doors and cheque writings etc. Yesterday Hallie and I had lunch with Prof. Maria João Dodman and her entourage and talked about putting something together from what I talked about in the last posting. Went to the library and looked at some Spanish music. There is a Portuguese guitarist named Doizi who published a guitar method in Naples in 1640 but I can't find a facsimile of it. It may have some songs in it as it will be all rasguedo (ie. strumming) music. I will be seeing Mike Schreiner the luthier tomorrow and will talk to him about his vihuelas and the stripey guitar. I really need to win that lottery.

11:02pm on November 1st,
Turns out the UofT has an original of Luys Milan's book of music for the vihuela da mano El Maestro. So I was fondling a book from 1536 today. Mike Schriener, who builds lutes and Hallie tagged along as I snapped some pictures of the pages that are songs. Rather than having staff notation for the singing part it has the tune in red numbers in the tablature. 'Everyone'

knows that in Spain they played the guitar shaped vihuela while the rest of Europe played the lute. It's thought that this might be because the lute had Moorish connections and they had just booted them out. The music is interchangable as they are tuned the same and vihuela music was printed, for instance, in Antwerp for lute. But I read today that the Valencian court, where Milan was employed, had 2 lutes according to an inventory of 1546. One of the 'lauds' was 'mas chico' than the other so we will try them out on my mas little lute in A as the rep is quite low for a soprano.
Mike was the first to make a copy of the recently discovered 'Chambure' vihuela. He just happened to be at the Paris museum when it was about to 'come out'. He did a paper for the Lute Soc. of America which talks about how the measurements are proportional so you can set your compass to X and make all the curves etc. If you need a smaller (ie. higher pitched) one you just close the compass smaller and the neck is, say, 6 times the diameter of the soundhole for example.

But going back to the 'lauds in Spain' thing; I have read of 4 inventories now, 2 bourgeois households, a royal one and a Ducal one, and they all have lutes in them. So why are all the books for 'vihuela'? Vihuela or viola can just mean 'stringed instrument'; the lute is called 'vihuela of Flanders' in a couple of cases. But it appears the lute was more popular than has been thought.

Milan's book was dedicated to the King of Portugal and there are Portuguese songs in it too.

November 8th, 2008
I am in Norwalk Connecticut for a visit. Hallie arrives today from Indiana where she was voting and visiting her mom. We are going to meet Janette Tilley at CUNY to see if we can get some of her Hammerschmidt Song of Songs that she edited for AR editions performed and pick up my archlute from Jorge. Either we will meet him in NYC or borrow the lexus and drive out to Easton. Not sure what would be more funner.

November 13th, 9:48am
I have my archlute back now. I still have sore muscles from lugging it all over Manhattan.
Looking forward to jammin' with Sara Ann Churchill to choose some rep for the NYD concert. I have an anon. 'Sinfonia' for archlute and continuo that used to be in the library of late lute guy Robert Spencer. I have a Caldara cantata that I had to get on interlibrary loan because the UofT library takes so long to get stuff bound and on shelves. I am having trouble finding anything that we have the right instruments for by Conti, the theorbo player at Vienna. There are a bunch of cantatas in facsimile by SPES, but the ones that don't use 'liuto francese' tend to have oboe or chalemeau or something. I don't know if I want to restring what I've been using as a 10 course back to 11 course d-minor tuning either. Here's me and the archlute on 5th Ave. in NY and the archlute in the overhead luggage on an amtrak train.