Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Year’s Day Concert - 2PM, Jan. 1st 2014 and 8PM Jan. 2nd at Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. Single tickets $25/$20 students & seniors at the door from a 1/2 hour before concert time.
Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre by François de Troy
Vos mespris Michel Lambert (1610-1696)

IVe Suite from Livre de simphonies Louis-Antoine Dornel (c.1685-1765)
Ouverture – Sarabande – Gavotte – Chaconne – Ir Rigodon – IIe Rigodon

Pieces en Sol Mineur Jean-Henri d'Anglebert (1629-1691)
Prelude – Allemande – Courante – Passacaille

Ah! puisque la rigueur Lambert


Sonata Pour le Viollon   Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729)
(Prelude) – Presto – Adagio – Courante – Aria

Le Sommeil d'Ulisse – Cantate Avec Simphonie Jacquet de la Guerre
Simphonie – Recitatif – Air, Gracieusement et un peu louré – Recitatif – Tempêste, Vivement
Air, Gracieusement – Recitatif – Sommeil, Air lentement – Recitatif – 2e Recitatif –
Air, Gracieusement e loureé

Named after the singers and lutenists who performed in the most intimate quarters of the Stuart monarchs’ palace, The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices dedicate themselves to the performance of early solo song and vocal chamber music. Soprano Hallie Fishel and lutenist John Edwards have been described as ‘winning performers of winning music’. A fixture on the Toronto early music scene for over 10 years, last year MIO became Ensemble in Residence at St, Michael’s College in the University of Toronto They have concertized across North America and lecture regularly at universities and museums. Institutions where MIO have performed range from the scholarly to those for a more general public and include the Renaissance Society of America, Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, Grinnell College, the Universities of Alberta and Toronto, Syracuse, Trent and York Universities and the Bata Shoe Museum. They have been Ensemble in Residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. 

Chris, Philip and Hallie
Christopher Verrette has been a member of the violin section of Tafelmusik since 1993 and is a frequent soloist and leader with the orchestra. He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University and contributed to the development of early music in the American Midwest as a founding member of the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and Ensemble Voltaire, and as a guest director with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. He collaborates with many ensembles around North America, performing music from seven centuries on violin, viola, rebec, vielle and viola d’amore. He was concertmaster for a recording of rarely heard classical symphonies for a recently released anthology by Indiana University Press, and most recently collaborated with Sylvia Tyson on the companion recording to her novel, Joyner’s Dream. 

Alison Melville by Colin Savage
Long recognized as one of Canada’s bright lights on historical flutes, Toronto-born Alison Melville began her musical life by playing the recorder in a school classroom in London (UK). Her career as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician with many ensembles has taken her across North America and to New Zealand, Iceland, Japan and Europe. Alison is a member of the Toronto Consort, the Arctic fusion band Ensemble Polaris, and is artistic director of the mixed media Bird Project. She appears regularly with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and as a guest with other ensembles across North America. Some favourite career moments include playing for The Tudors and CBC-TV’s The Friendly Giant, Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, solo shows in inner-city London (UK) junior schools, a recital last fall in southern Spain, and, oh yes, a summer of concerts in Ontario prisons.
Alison has been heard on CBC/Radio-Canada, BBC, RNZ, NPR and Iceland State Broadcast Service, and on over 50 CDs, including five critically acclaimed solo recordings. She was on faculty at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (USA) from 1999 to 2010. 
Philip Fournier is Organist & Music Director of the Toronto Oratory, Director of the Chant Schola & Oratory Children’s Choir. He specializes in Gregorian Chant, which he studied at Solesmes with Dom Saulnier. He gives solo organ recitals regularly at the Oratory, plays continuo and solo harpsichord and organ with various local groups, is guest cantor and organist for the Colby College Chant Seminar, and is active as a composer. 

“Philip Fournier’s ... original registrations, exquisite touch, his command of the instrument and musical projection showed his preeminence as one of the finest organists of his generation.”
- James David Christie, Holy Cross, Oberlin, Boston Symphony

Praised for her “stately, resonant and beautifully articulated” viol playing, Laura Jones enjoys a busy and multi-faceted career on both modern and period instruments. Laura has been a member of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra since 1989; as well, she is the principal cellist/gambist of Nota Bene Baroque. As a chamber musician, she performs and records with both the Windermere String Quartet on Period Instruments and the Talisker Players. She has lent her talents as a gambist to the Winnipeg Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic, and Orchestra London, as well as the Toronto Consort, the Toronto Chamber Choir, the Classical Music Consort, and the Elora Festival. Laura plays an Addison model bass viol by John Pringle.

Program Notes 
By 1689 the Italian style was already making inroads into France. Perhaps that is why Michel Lambert, the leading composer of airs de cour from the 1640s on, chose that year to publish his re-written solo songs with appended ritournelles for two unspecified treble instruments. The trio sonata texture Lambert imitates is Italian, but he has the one treble weave a countermelody to the singing tune in a quite non-Italian way.  Though he wrote for early ballets at the Sun-King’s court, poor Lambert could only get comic roles in the operas of his son-in-law Lully.  This was because, according to a contemporary, ‘it is not only that he makes faces when he sings, he is also extremely ugly even when he is not making faces.’  Lambert was the leading singing teacher in France teaching, as well as technique, his very baroque style of decorating the melody to the accompaniment of his theorbo.  Lully sent his singers to him, though some came back with a few too many ideas for the his taste.  ‘Those ornaments you can leave to my father-in-law.’ he said.
Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous, finds the napping hero, by Pieter  Lastman
Jacquet de la Guerre’s cantate on the Sleep of Ulysses takes as its subject an episode from Book V of The Odyssey where Ulysses has escaped from Calypso on his improvised raft.  Her cantates were among the first printed in France so we can say Élisabeth was, as it were, instrumental in importing the exotic Italian cantata to France.  Neptune’s stormy ire, the intercession of Minerva (who is often depicted as or with an owl) and the hero’s slumber all provide scope for Jacquet de la Guerre to integrate French operatic pictorial movements into the Italianate cantata.  No French opera from the period would be complete without a movement representing a tempête, bruit de tonnerre, bruit infernal etc. and Lully’s sleep movement from Atys, which we might think Jacquet de la Guerre had in mind while composing her Sommeil, is a show-stopper.  One wonders, too, if there might be a secret message of thanks for her patron Louis XIV in the emphasis in the text on the protection of Minerva, the goddess of music and poetry, and her prophecy of the magnanimity of the great King Alcinous, the hospitality of whom Ulysses is about to receive. Jacquet de la Guerre’s publication of violin sonatas (or are they?) have on the title page the designation Pour le Viollon et pour le Clavecin, though they specify violle from time to time when the continuo bass part splits.  Perhaps she is keeping the scoring options open for the performer. 

Anglebert’s harpsichord works however, are completely untouched by Italianisms.  His manuscript keyboard works include his arrangements of the French lutenists Mezangeau and both Gaultiers (inventors, we might say, of the ‘French Suite’) and of dances from the operas of the ubiquitous Lully.  Anglebert began his career as a church organist in Paris, but by the end of his life he was working in the household of the Dauphin of France and his wife and that of the king. His collection of suites in Pièces de clavecin was printed in 1689. 

Dornel, too worked as an organist, at Ste. Madeleine-en-la-Cité, where he beat Rameau to the job by being more accommodating to the church authorities, and at the Abbey of Sainte-Geneviève, the bells of which provides the repeating bass for Marais’s famous trio, known to all French Baroque music fans. Unlike the keyboard-centric Anglebert, Dornel published airs, chamber music for  violin and flute solo and together in trios with oboe, and cantatas  as well as books of keyboard music, so appears to have had a large public willing to snap up his works and indeed, though he is not well known today, the 18th century music writer Laborde wrote that Dornel ‘avait beaucoup de réputation dans son temps.’ Perhaps part of Dornel’s appeal was that he also kept scoring options open for his consumers. This suite is from a ‘Livre de simphonies contenant six suittes en trio pour les flutes, violons, hautbois, etc….’ 

Translations by Eleanor Verrette

Ah! puisque la rigueur
Ah! because the extreme harshness
Of the ingrate whom I love
Removes from me all hope of healing:
Love, what counsel should I follow?
I cannot see her without dying,
And without seeing her I cannot live.
Michel Lambert - Hot or not?
Vos mespris
Your disdain each day alarms me a thousandfold,
But I cherish my lot, though it be harsh:
Alas!  If in my pains I find such charms,
I would die of pleasure if I were any happier.

Le Sommeil d'Ulisse
Recitatif:  After many adventures, the indefatigable Ulysses had irritated Neptune and was trying to hide his vessel.  But his efforts were in vain, for this god wanted him dead and a gaping crag be his tomb.
Air, Gracieusement et un peu louré:  On a deep and stormy sea he saw him guided by Zephyrs, sailing at the will of his desires, and reigning over the waves.
Recitatif:  He shuddered: an unjust madness took away his senses and replaced them with horror. 
Tempêste, Vivement:  To get rid of this warrior he gave to his anger loud thunder and flashing lightning so that he made the air growl wand glow, and the universe, alarmed, fears, another shipwreck, all the winds, unleashed, battle against the waves, the vessel overturns, surrenders to the terrible storm, disappears, and the sea swallows this hero.

Winter by Nicholas Poussin
Air, Gracieusement:  Come kind Minerva, you who takes care of his days, hurry, powerful goddess, fly, fly to his rescue.  Since he saw the immortal band of gods at Troy divided, he has always been faithful to your lessons, and bowed before your laws.  Come kind Minerva …
Recitatif:  Our wishes are fulfilled: that such a dear one escapes the storm.  A delightful haven from Neptune renders the god's ire useless.  By a magic slumber the goddess soothes Ulysses's pains. 
Sommeil, Air lentement:  Sleep, sleep!  Do not be offended by a sleep so full of charms.  Ah! how the rest has such charms when it follows  such struggle.  It is good that a hero should take on laborious tasks, but also sometimes this same hero must rest.  Sleep, sleep ...
Recitatif:  But what thought mixes with this enchantment?  Minerva presents to him a vision of destiny on the form of a laughing face, who told him this:  

2e Recitatif:  Alcinous, this king that the universe admires, in these happy places rules his empire.  In vain, many enemies, in their fits of jealousy, have tried their hardest to defeat him.  He took but his thunder to keep the world at rest, this monarch, for the good of mankind, pleases himself by protecting the rights of sovereigns.  Of the afflicted he has the firmest hope; your wishes shall be fulfilled by his magnificence, despite the Fates' attempt to destroy you, and he shall restore you triumphant to your beloved people.
Air, Gracieusement e loureé:  Ulysses, whom glory calls, triumphs in these friendly places.  He sees finished the quarrel that for so long has for so long has troubled the gods.  When a hero pursues knowledge and uses it as his support, everyone is interest in his cause and fights for him.  Ulysses, whom glory calls ...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Here's the program from the St. Michael's College concert for Advent and the end of term, Tuesday, Dec. 3rd, 2013, 7:30pm

Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 3 No. 9 Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Allegro Christopher Verrette, Solo Violin

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Ouverture (Chorale)
Recititative Marcos Ramos, tenor
Aria Marcos Ramos, tenor
Recititative Christian McConnell, bass
Aria Hallie Fishel, soprano

Cantata – Mariae Heimsuchung Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Arie: Meine Sel’ erhebt den Herrn Hallie Fishel, Soprano
Rezitativ: So schön
Arie: Erquickende Quelle des Labsals in Jesu

Magnificat, RV 610/611 Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Chorus: Magnificat
Chorus: Et Exultavit Hallie Fishel, Soprano, Irene Gaspar, Alto, Adam Miceli, Tenor
Chorus: Et misericordia eius
Chorus: Fecit Potentiam
Chorus: Deposuit
Duet: Esurientes Hallie Fishel, Kara Dymond, Sopranos
Chorus: Suscepit Israel
Solo: Sicut locutus Irene Gaspar, Alto
Chorus: Gloria Patri
Michael O'Connor
In the notes to our Michaelmas concert, we expressed surprise that Vivaldi’s choral music was completely forgotten till the middle of the 20th century, including the now very famous Gloria we performed that night. The Magnificat we hear tonight is not so well known, but in its day it was clearly performed a great deal: it survives in several versions, each re-working the movements for the resources that the girls of the Pietà—the orphanage and music school which was Vivaldi’s main employer—could provide that year. One source even has the names of the girls who would sing the solos written in the score (Albetta was the alto, Apollonia, Chiaretta and Maria the sopranos and Ambrosina the tenor!). We follow the lead of the Red Priest by putting together a Magnificat from his several variant versions, using one choir and no oboes. Vivaldi uses the harmonic palette of the hair-raising moments from his Gloria, some of the string idioms from his “Winter” concerto, and an altogether peculiar effect of tutti unison to depict the mighty being deposed from their thrones.

Vivaldi’s Op. 3, titled L’Estro Armonico, was one of the most widely distributed sets of concertos in the early 18th century. Both Bach (who transcribed this particular concerto for keyboard) and Quantz used it as the model for concerto form. Vivaldi is said to have been excused from saying Mass due to his habit of breaking off and going out to jot down a melody if one occurred to him in the middle of the proceedings. His infectious melodies always convince us that he never let one get away. 

In his Cantata for the First Sunday of Advent Bach cantata uses the “royal” image of the French Overture with the chorale tune superimposed. (Louis XIV, “le Grand”, for whom the French Overture was developed, was still around when Bach wrote Nun Komm BWV 61, though John Churchill had straitened his circumstances.) The chorale overture and tenor aria call on Christ to come; in the bass recitative, we hear the reply, as pizzicato violins portray the effect of Jesus knocking on the door of our hearts. The last movement uses part of the chorale tune Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern instead of title chorale, taking the violins up near the dwelling place of the morning star for an emphatic ending.

The Telemann cantata we offer tonight, which interpolates the Magnificat text, is for the feast of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth where Mary first feels Jesus “quicken” in the womb. This cantata is from the “annex” to his Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst and, as we discussed in the last program, this collection offers flexible scoring since Telemann was never sure what forces would be hanging around at each the five churches in Hamburg for which he provided music after the hours long Lutheran sermon. We act on his recommendation in the preface to double the violins with ripieno players “where there are sufficient players.” 

This concert celebrates the end of term, and the beginning of a new church year brought by a baby, as we look forward and backward, like the god Janus. He, and the early morning classes on frosty mornings he’ll bring, are not here for a few weeks though. 

May we wish you all a blessed Christmas and a joyful and peace-filled 2014. 
John Edwards and Kerri McGonigle
1st Violins
Chris Verrette, Rona Goldensher, Emily Eng
2nd Violins
Paul Zevenhuisen, Rezan Onen-Lapointe
Emily Eng, Eleanor Verrette
Kerri McGonigle
Erin Rose MacLeod
Philip Fournier
John Edwards

Suzanna Attia, Sana Bathiche, Kara Dymond, Hallie Fishel, Catherine Hamilton
Cindy Dymond, Ana Iorgulescu, Irene Gaspar, Mekhriban Mamedova, 
Annemarie Sherlock, Ann Marie Tedesco
Adam Miceli, Marcos Ramos
Christian McConnell, Paul McGrath
Rehearsal Pianist
Mekhriban Mamedova

Bach, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland 
1. Ouverture
Now come, saviour of the gentiles,
revealed as the child of the Virgin, 
at whom all the world marvels
that God decreed such a birth for him.

2. Recitative
The saviour has come, and has taken on himself our humble flesh and blood
and accepts us as his blood relations. 
O highest goodness of all, what have you not done for us ? What do you not do even daily for your people?
You come and let your light
shine with full blessing.
Hallie Fishel and Kara Dymond
3. Aria
Come, Jesus, come to your church
and grant us a blessed new year!
Increase the honour of your name,
Preserve sound teaching
and bless pulpit and altar! 

4. Recitative
See, I stand at the door and knock. 
If anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I shall go in and have supper with him and he with me. 

5. Aria
Open wide, my whole heart,
Jesus comes and enters within.
Though I am only like dust and earth,
he does not want to scorn me
but to see his pleasure in me
so that I become his dwelling.
Oh how blessed I shall be!

6. Chorale
Amen, amen! Come, you beauteous crown of gladness, do not tarry! 
I await you with longing.

Telemann, Mariae Heimsuchung 
Visitation of the Virgin
1. Aria
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices;
Heaven! I honour the proof of your mercy;
Earth! Rejoice to honour me gloriously; 
Who is more blessed than I?

2. Recitative
So beautiful, so tenderly sounded Mary’s joyful hymn,
since Gabriel called her Mother of God,
Elizabeth also honours her as Blessed.
Oh, my soul, embrace you also this Son of God, and seek to soar with him in thanksgiving, praise and song, to the immeasurably high throne!

3. Aria
Refreshing font of balm in Jesus,
water and refresh my longing heart!
Give yourself then to my most burning desires, 
Oh fairest of creatures, to love me forever! 
Ah, soothe the homesickness, the most tender pain.
Archangel Gabriel and Blessed Virgin Mary

Vivaldi, Magnificat
1. Magnificat
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. 

2. Et Exultavit
And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant. 
From this day all generations will call me blessed. 
The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. 

3. Et misericordia eius
And his mercy is on those who fear him, in every generation. 

4. Fecit Potentiam
He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 

5. Deposuit
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. 

6. Esurientes
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 

7. Suscepit Israel
He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy.

8. Sicut locutus
As he spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children for ever. 

9.    Gloria Patri
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The program and notes for our concert Sat. Nov. 16, 2013, 8PM  Heliconian Hall 35 Hazelton Ave., Toronto.  Tickets $25 and $20 at the door

The Fame Which Posterity Gives – John Dowland (1563-1626)
A trompe-l'œil ceiling from one of the King of Denmark's castles about the time Dowland
worked for him. Might that lute player be the only picture of Dowland?

Famam, posterias quam dedit Orpheo
Dolandi melius Musica dat sibi

‘The fame which posterity gives to Orpheus/To Dowland, Music gives the better’ Thomas Campion

A Shepheard in a shade his plaining made
Dye not beefore thy day
His golden locks time hath to silver turnde
Sir Henry Lee with locks neither golden nor silver
Semper Dowland Semper Dolens
Sir John Smith his Almaine

It was a time when silly Bees could speake
If my complaints could passions move

The Right Honourable the Lady Rich, her Galliard

Flow my tears

Times eldest sonne: First part/Then sit thee downe: Second part/When others sings Venite exultemus: Third part


Thou mightie God/When Davids life by Saul/When the poore Criple

The Battell Galliard
Frog Galliard

Duc d'Alençon, whom Elizabeth strung along for a great while

Lady if you so spight me
Sorrow sorrow stay, lend true repentant teares
Sweet stay awhile, why will you rise?


In darknesse let mee dwell

Program Notes
‘My Lord of Essex chose to evaporate his thoughts in a sonnet (beeing his common way) to be sung before the Queene, (as it was) by one Hales, in whose voice she took some pleasure.’ Sir Henry Wotton wrote this some 40 years after the execution of Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex, in a pamphlet comparing him to another spectacular courtier who met an untimely end, the Duke of Buckingham, the ‘favourite’ of James I. But it would be very rare, even impossible, for Essex and Elizabeth to ever be alone together; court ceremony meant that the ensemble called the Lutes and Voices served right in the Queen’s bed chamber along with all the other courtiers and servants. So any courtier’s poem sung before the queen and her entourage was very much a semi-public, self-serving self-fashioning. This is most explicit in Dowland’s setting of Essex’s poem ‘It was a time when silly Bees could speak’, called 'The Earl of Essex, his Buzz’ in poetic sources, where Essex, punning heavily on thyme/time, complains to the queen bee that he is not getting his just reward for all the time he puts in getting nectar from the thyme.

The Earl of Essex, head intact
‘His golden locks’ and the ‘Times eldest sonne’ trilogy are also examples of both the late Elizabethan preoccupation with time, and a courtier sending a message to court via song. These songs are from the Accession Day celebrations of 1590. Sir Henry Lea, the queen’s champion in the stylized jousting tournaments here announces his retirement in an equally stylized manner. In the lyric of ‘Times eldest sonne’ (sung at the ceremony by the Robert Hales mentioned by Wotton above) Lea describes how he will replace the Psalms and Canticles prescribed for Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, with those used for Evening Prayer. Needless to say, Elizabeth’s still fairly new and controversial Prayerbook does not include the Ave Maria prayer for that other Blessed Virgin.

Lucy, Countess of Bedford, bankroller of Jacobethan Melancholy
But it was not only male courtiers who were projecting an image through song and poem. Dowland’s Second Book of Songs, which cements his position as the official composer of Elizabethan Melancholy, was dedicated to Lucy Countess of Bedford who also was the patron of darkness peddling poets Ben Jonson, John Donne and Samuel Danyel. Did she engage these artists because she was drawn to their work in the melancholy milieu or was Elizabethan and Jacobean melancholy made to order for the woman who wanted to bring light (N.B. Lucy=light) to these artists?
A Melancholy Man, by Isaac Oliver, sometimes said to be Philip Sidney
Pastoralism, as heard in ‘A Shepheard in a shade’, was another artistic movement at the turn of the 17th century. Sir Philip Sidney was Essex’s friend, his immediate predecessor as most sparkling young courtier, and author of Arcadia and Astrophel and Stella, works that put pastoralism and its fields on the map in England. The beloved Stella of Sidney’s sonnet cycle was Penelope Devereaux, sister of the Earl. She was unhappily married to the Lord Rich over the protestations of herself and of Sidney. The Battell Galliard sets up trumpet figures in two opposing keys in imitation of Clement Jannequin’s chanson La Battaille. Sir Philip was banished from court for a while for protesting too strongly his opinion of the queen’s possible match with the Duke of Alençon, who she referred to as ‘My frog’. Might this be the source of a somewhat less respectful dedication of a galliard than The Right Honourable the Lady Rich, her Galliard?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Here's part two of our talk on lute tablature and printing for the class Books, Media, and Music at St. Michael's College. Part one is here.

We dealt with German lute tablature pretty quickly. I have never met a lute player who reads German tablature; it's straightforward to decipher it, but reading it is a bit complicated. German lute tablature is said to have been invented by the blind organist Conrad Paumann at the end of the 15th century, when most lutes would have only had five pairs of strings (or 'courses'). So, starting with the fifth course open, and going up the strings, then up to the first fret and so on, German tablature has a letter or cipher for each intersection of string and fret. Here's a diagram from Sebastian Virdung’s Musica Getutschta book describing musical instruments published around 1511.

You can see that the open strings from the (in 1490) lowest to highest are 1 to 5, then the first fret from the (in 1490) lowest string to the highest is a to e, the second fret from f to k (i and j are the same letter in 1511) and so on up the neck. Once you pass z, you double the letters up. To read fluently up to the seventh fret on a five course lute, you need to memorize and react instantly to 35 symbols. But then, complicating things further, the sixth course gets added. Virdung here uses, at each fret on the sixth course, a capital of the adjacent fifth course, but other systems were used by other printers. Rhythm signs, which look like grids of 16th notes without their 'dots' at the bottom, were put over the ciphers, which are stacked up in chords. Here is a very simple little two part dance from Hans Neusidler’s Ein Newgeordent Kuenstlich Lautenbuch (1536). You can imagine how a big complicated piece like Capirola's version of a Josquin mass movement would look.

As I say, we got through German tablature pretty quickly, and so did German lute players. By the beginning of the 17th century they were all using Italian or French tablature. 

French tablature uses the same principal of having lines representing strings and ciphers representing frets as does Italian tablature, except the highest sounding string is at the top of the page and the ciphers are letters instead of numbers. The open string is 'a', the first fret 'b' and so on up the neck. Pierre Attaingnant uses five lines for the strings which implies that even in 1529, the sixth course was still thought of as 'extra'. Or he was just used to five lines from printing staff notation? Anyway, Other French publishers soon started using six lines for their tablature prints.  Here's Claudin de Sermisy's chanson, Tant que vivray arranged from four voices for one voice and lute from Attaingnant's Tres breve et familiere introduction. Compare Attaingnant's 'one stop' block method of printing with Petrucci's much more beautiful two or three pass method from the previous post. (He has also left off a nice illuminated capital T at the beginning of the type you see at the beginning of A Shepheard in a shade below.)

We can see that, nominally at least, Attaingnant's arranger thinks of his top string as G, since the singer starts on a C which means the first chord has to be an F chord. (The clef in the singing part shows that the bottom line is middle C.)

Look at the last note in the third bar of Tant. Should be a B flat right? Well, maybe not, because scribes and printers in the 16th century and earlier were not always careful about putting in what we would call 'accidental' sharp signs. The music reader, using the 'sol-fa' theory of the day and his ear, would 'just know' whether to sharp a note. This editorialising by the performer on the fly is called 'musica ficta'. Many hours have been lost in modern rehearsals with singers arguing 'No, the editor of this modern edition shold (or should not) have sharped this.' Below is the lute solo version of the same song from the same book. (The tune is a little decorated for the lute player to show off his licks.) 

That B flat in the third bar of the song (sorry, no bar lines in the lute version) is very clearly an E fret, that is the fourth fret on the top string, which is a B natural. In the case of this musica ficta problem of left out sharps, naturals and flats, then, lute tablature is more accurate than the staff notation system of the time and can give clues and examples to singers for what to sharp when. (Spoiler alert: sharp much more often than you'd think, if the lute solo versions of chansons, madrigals, motets and mass movements are to be believed.)

After spending much of the 16th century occupied with deciding whether to be Catholic or Protestant, the English were blessed with Queen Elizabeth the First, who stablized things and, importantly for us, gave a monopoly for music printing to the composers Byrd and Tallis. For some reason, perhaps they misjudged the market with their first choice of repertoire printed, they let the monopoly lie there till it ran out in 1596 so there was a giant pent up demand for lute songs and solos. A man named William Barley printed a book which pirates a French lute method and then has some very mistake prone lute solos (John Dowland describes them as 'false and unperfect') in that year and then the monopoly is renewed, this time with the much more clever Thomas Morley. Morley would take £10 off you, give you a license for you to print some music and take the risk as to whether there was a public for it yourself. 

John Dowland's First Book of Songs or Ayres to the Lute... came out in 1597 and was reprinted several times in the next few years, so about 3 or 4 thousand copies of this book were floating around in a city of maybe 300,000 where only a minority could read words, let alone lute tablature. His Second Book of Songs came out in 1600. Luckily for us, because of the success of the First Book there were some shenanigans with secret copies being printed to be sold down the pub under the table and the publisher sued the printer. Because of the court case we know all kinds of details about how much Morley got for the monopoly license, how much the dedicatee of the book, Lucy, Countess of Bedford (who funded all kinds of darkness and melancholy themed arts at the time), chipped in, how much Mrs. Dowland got for the manucript etc. This is all detailed in Diana Poulton's book on Dowland (see page 245). 

Here's the two pages of A shepheard in a shade from that book. You can see that the foolscap sized page has the optional singing parts set up facing different ways on the page so that the singers can put the book in the middle of the table and all read off the same copy. This book is printed for intimate music making at home.

Here's a closer look at the first couple of lines of that song. Again the lute comes out, nominally, as having a top string at G. The letters of the French tablature are the same (but lower case). The dropped in type blocks are the same method as Attaingnant. There are sort of 'ledger lines' for the recently adopted seventh course of the lute. 

As we saw with Italian tablature, a manuscript can have a lot more information for the player than contemporary printing methods could provide. Here's an example from Margaret Board's Lutebook. She was a lute student of John Dowland in about 1620. There are loads of marks to show you what to hold, what ornaments to use etc. See that manuscripts often use the grid system of rhythm signs that we saw in German tablature too. This is Dowland's most famous piece Lachrimae Pavan which was quoted for a hundred years after its composition when you'd have the word tear, or wanted to represent melancholy.

Dowland recycled the tune into his song Flow my teares which you can download us singing here. 

Around 1600 music publishers started using a new method of engraving the score backwards onto a copper plate and printing from that. With a skilled engraver, then, printed music could now have all of the little commas, swooping curves for phrasing, fingering dots for right hand strums that had previously only been available in manuscript. Here's the air de cour En fin la beauté by Etienne Moulinie from Airs avec tablature de luth premiere livre published by Pierre Ballard in 1624. 

The composer, then, has gained more control over the performer. When I as a lute player occasionally get to play modern music I often find myself resenting all the information the composer has put in with regards to tempo, phrasing etc. 'How dare he tell me how to play it? That's my job!' I wonder if lute players in 1620, picking up Ballard's engraved songbooks felt the same?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last week we talked about the printing of lute tablature and lute song for Michael O'Connor's class called Books, Media, and Music at St. Michael's College. I'm going to break the talk into two blog entries because it's too long and I don't want you to say tl/dr.

We started off by showing an example of guitar solo music from 1980. In this line from Peter Maxwell Davies' Farewell to Stromness the arranger and editor, guitarist Timothy Walker, has fingered at least one note in every chord. Some notes even have two fingerings for a note, one for the finger and one for the string to play it on, though the string is implicit anywhere he tells you what finger to use.

So you have to think if Timothy Walker thinks that a plucked string player needs that much more information above and beyond the dots and lines of staff notation he, and he would never think this out loud, must think that staff notation is not adequate for notating plucked string music. 

One group of people who are not encumbered by the snobbery of having to 'read music' (ie. dots in staff notation), who thus think the 'music' is the sound waves, the performance, not the piece of paper with dots on it which we also call 'music', are classic rock fans. They know that tablature will give you the information you need more efficiently. There are thousands of tablature sites out there with the first bars of this famous piece. This example of Stairway to Heaven is from Reading tablature never really went away, Guitar World magazine would have examples in the back, but the new medium of the internets has certainly boosted it. 

This tablature has six lines representing the strings of the guitar with the top sounding string nearest the top of the page. The numbers on the lines are the frets of the guitar, 0= open string, 1= first fret 2= second fret, etc. 

Modern tab readers though, have not started using the rhythm signs that lutenists and guitarists used from the 16th to the 18th century, maybe because they will always have heard the song they are learning, so they'll know to play the Stairway in four square time, not swung. 

The Thibault Manuscript (Blibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Rés. Vmd. Ms. 27), probably started around 1502, has that sense of a lute player jotting down some reminders of pieces he knows already. There are no rhythm signs, but the rhythms can often be reconstructed (click on the link above) from the right hand fingering signs; when there are two thumb plucks in a row followed by a forefinger designated by a dot under the note you know the rhythm is 'taa-ti-ti', because strong beats always get the stronger sounding thumb downward pluck. The rhythm signs in the example of a decorated version of the famous Fortuna desperata are jotted in by me because I don't know the piece as well as the first person who owned the manuscript. Here the top sounding string is nearest the bottom of the page because, obviously, that string is nearest the ground when you are holding a lute or guitar. This is called Italian tablature and was used in Italy, parts of Germany and, mostly, in Spain. 

Next I played a piece from the first printed book of specifically instrumental music. Ottaviano Petrucci didn't invent music printing, but was the first successful publisher. In 1507 he printed Intabolatura de lauto libro primo and secondo of music by or arranged by Francesco Spinacino. The technique Petrucci used was to print the lines, then go back and print on the fret numbers and rhythm signs. What a beautiful job he does considering the complexity of that technique and that it is the first time anyone had ever printed lute music. And what an honour for Spinacino to be the first musician to have his instrumental works published. How strange that we know little more about him beyond his name. 

But of course, tablature is not telling you about pitches, only about where to put your fingers. I had brought three lutes, one with the top string at E, one at G and one at A. Hallie sang this song, printed in 1509 (Franciscus Bossinensis’s Tenori e contrabassi intabulati col sopran in canto figurato per cantar e sonar col lauto), with each of them. The rubric at the beginning says 'the voice of the soprano is at (ie. starts on) the fifth fret of the canto (top string)'. So, though the staff notation first note in the says she sings a D, so to harmonize with that note the top string of the lute must be an A, I can give her the first note on any of the lutes and put my fingers in the same place and she transposes up or down to where it's comfortable, depending on which lute I am playing. We agreed this song sounds best with the lute in A, but some of the ones which are for a lute in E sound better up. Maybe Petrucci was just avoiding ledger lines. Around 1500 Isabella d'Este, Marchesa of Mantua, wrote to her instrument maker Lorenzo di Pavia 'Make is a lute that is two steps smaller than the viola you made, which we find a little too low for our voice.' 

Petrucci does a beautiful job of printing, but still can't compete with the detail that you can include in a manuscript. In 1517 Vidal starts his manuscript, now in the Newberry Library in Chicago and writes this at the beginning: 
Considering that several divine works have been lost by the ignorance of their owners, and desiring that this almost divine book written by me will be preserved forever, I, Vidal, have adorned it with such noble paintings, so that if it should be owned by somebody with no knowledge in (the musical field), he would keep it for the beauty of the pictures. Surely, the things written in this book have as much harmony as the art of music may express.

In this example of Capirola you can see where to put ornaments (fret numbers in dots and slashes through fret numbers), signs that tell you where to hold and release notes (not so important on the lute which makes the very short 'plink', and you will need that finger somewhere else soon.) and of course bunnies. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Here's the program for the Rosary concert tonight at 100 St. Joseph St. Toronto. Map on how to get there at bottom. 

The Christianty and Culture program at St Michael's College in the University of Toronto 

The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices


The Rosary Sonatas – The Glorious Mysteries 

Fr. Madden Auditorium, Carr Hall 
100 St. Joseph St. 
St. Michael’s College
Oct. 11, 2013
Lecture by Rev. Lisa Wang at 7:30PM, Concert at 8PM

The Resurrection Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704)
Domine in adjuvandum Maurizio Cazzati (c1620-77)
O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.
(Text – Response from the beginning of each of the Hours )

Click on the photo to get a closer look at the crossed strings

The Ascension Biber
Vocem jucunditatis Alessandro Grandi (c.1580-1630)
Declare it with the voice of joy, and make it known, alleluia.
The Lord hath delivered His people, alleluia.
Christ has ascended on high. He has led captivity captive. He has given gifts to mankind, alleluia.
(Text – Excerpt from the Introit for the Fifth Sunday after Easter)

Pentecost Biber
Veni sancte Spiritus Giovanni Pozzo (fl. 1610)
Come Holy Spirit, you who are with the Father and the Son, one God through the ages; kindle in the depths of our hearts the flames of love, enliven us that we, loving the Lord, may enjoy you forever. O sweetest Spirit, I ask that you remain with me and keep watch over me always, so that, in the mouths of those celebrating you in song, you may be praised forever.
(Text – Free, with phrases from Sequence and Alleluia for Pentecost and Credo)

The Assumption of the Virgin  Biber
Prudentissima virgo Grandi
Virgin most wise, where are you going, Daughter of Sion, shining out as brightly as the dawn? You are most comely and merciful, beautiful as the moon, excellent as the sun, alleluia.
(Text – Magnificat Antiphon, First Vespers of the Assumption of the BVM)

The Coronation of the Virgin Biber
O Quam speciosa Grandi
O how beautiful have you become, O Mary, thou lovely, thou kindly, O Mary, sweet rose.
O Mary, sweet rose, pray for us to Jesus Christ our Saviour, that he may protect and free us. O Mary, sweet rose, thou lovely, thou kindly, thou beauteous, thou glorious mother. O Mary, sweet rose.
O Mary, sweet rose, pray for us to Jesus Christ, Son of God, to preserve us in God’s love, thou beautiful, decorous, chosen mother of God. O Mary, sweet rose. Alleluia
(Text – Free, after the Song of Solomon)

Program Notes by Christopher Verrette
Biber’s Rosary Sonatas were a product of a culture that believed in using all the senses and all available media to contemplate the divine. This included visual art, music (both in sound and notation), dances (with which his audience would have been physically familiar) and in this particular case, unorthodox tunings of the violin. Here are some concise thoughts on how these things work together to contemplate the Glorious Mysteries.

The tuning of the Resurrection sonata is arguably the most expressive in the set, because it requires the player to cross the middle strings of the violin creating a visual symbol on the instrument, while disorienting the player's right arm as much as his left hand. The opening makes extensive use of the echo, perhaps suggesting the empty burial cave. What follows is the only reference to actual sacred music in this cycle: a set of variations on the hymn Surrexit Christus Hodie, written in gigantic, antique-style note values in the Trinitarian meter of 3/1, a visually stunning notational choice. The violin is heard playing in parallel octaves, like congregational singing, which is facilitated by the unusual tuning. After a final statement of the hymn in three octaves, the sonata ends with an introspective coda.

The picture of the Ascension in the score shows only Jesus' feet disappearing upward, which is mirrored in fast rising scales in the music, but the composer is clearly showing us His arrival in heaven to trumpet music. The tuning of the violin in a C Major chord makes this possible using a maximum of open strings. Two dances follow, of which the second is especially significant: Biber uses the courante exactly three times in the cycle. Dance historian Wendy Hilton has characterised the courante as "the dance of kings", and here it affirmatively expresses the triumphant fulfillment of something hinted at in earlier mysteries, in moments of humility and humiliation.

The sheer wildness of the writing in the sonata for Pentecost may betray Biber's birth in Bohemia. He quoted genuine folk music in other works and may have called upon his experience of folk fiddlers to suggest the winds and tongues of fire. It uses a brilliant tuning allowing for swirling passages in thirds and sixths.

The Assumption of the Virgin is some of the most light-hearted music to be found in the cycle. The opening passagework ends somewhat abruptly on a high note, indicating the direction of her travel. Most of the piece is a playful set of variations on a ground bass, though the whole story is told in a nutshell at the end: the violin disappears in mid-phrase leaving the continuo players alone on earth to contemplate the empty tomb.

The Coronation of the Virgin uses the most relaxed tuning to be found, creating a warm, deep sound. More formal counterpoint is used than in the other sonatas, but dance gets the last word: a saraband with a particularly delicate – even feminine – variation.