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.

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