There were no problems with lack of rehearsal time, or
inexperience in ensemble singing, or questionable blend on the
Tuesday night concert of madrigals about triumph and conquest by
the King’s Singers.
The first half presented English madrigals from the Triumphs of
Oriana, paired with Italian ones from Il Trionfo
di Dori, the Italian Madrigal collection which inspired the
I went to the concert hoping to hear material that my group would
enjoy singing. I think the first one will be Michael East’s
Hence stars, too dim of light. The serpent wants to
play the bass line. In general, the serpent wants to sound like
bass Jonathan Howard.
The second half was French madrigals, starting and ending with
two Jannequin showpieces, Les cris de Paris and
La Guerre. In between were Josquin and Lassus.
A friend I talked to later wished there had been more Josquin, but
I wouldn’t have sacrificed the showpieces. Madrigals are the
ultimate living room music, but when you can do precision
fireworks like the ones in La Guerre, you should
have a concert stage to do it on.
I was glad they did that one in particular, because the battle
pieces that apparently everyone wrote and played all through the
16th century are often neglected as trivialities in the modern
concert presentations of that repertoire. I think it’s important
to see how musicians were dealing with representing the sounds
they heard (including gunfire). The battle pieces also represent
the birth of movie music, which is still an important part of the
On my way in to the concert, I talked to some conservatory
students who are here participating in the EMA Young Performers’
Series. One of them was introduced as the best chalumeaux player
in the world, which embarrassed him a little, but there are only a
couple of people playing chalumeaux in public. So I told him
about being the second-best serpent player in the Boston area.
the way home, I ran into an MIT musicologist who has used some of
my transcriptions in his statistical analysis of something or
other. He asked about what I was publishing these days, so I
showed him the
new brochure, and he was actually interested in discussing the
problems of getting lilypond
to space unbarred music correctly. A few years ago He wrote a Haskell program
that uses lilypond for very low-level stuff but does a lot of the
spacing and line-breaking on its own, and he says his stuff looks
just like Petrucci, but probably doesn’t work with the current
So I’m feeling quite good about BEMF at the moment.