NEFFA 2021 proposal

A family group gathered around a fireside table singing and Wellcome V0038701


The idea is to give a session where the audience is invited to sing simple polyphony that was written to be sung in social settings. We’ll use our favorites from the Ravenscroft presentation we gave in 2011, and also add rounds and part songs from the rest of our repertoire, including the two songs about the plague that we’ve added this year.


I was thinking of something like Folk Polyphony: from the Tudors to the Georgians or Folk Polyphony: From Court to Catch Club. Discussing it with Richard Schmeidler, I gave Pasttime with good company as an example of what we’re going to sing, and he suggested that would be a good title.


The thirteen page booklet we gave out in 2011 turned out to be a little short – I think we ended up repeating some favorites after we’d sung it all. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I think we can remove only a few things and add a bunch more for this year.

It looks like we already removed a few things when we redid the book for the Walk for Hunger in 2013. I would say we could remove a couple more rounds (e.g. Oaken Leaves and Jolly Shepherd), but I really like all three of those part songs.

So here’s the proposed list:

  • Pasttime with good company
  • It was a lover and his lass
  • Campian: When Laura Smiles, Never weather-beaten saile, Now winter nights enlarge, I care not for these ladies
  • Ravenscroft from previous book
  • Gibbons, For Deliverance from a public Sickness
  • Wise: Judith and Holofernes, When the plague was in town
  • Five reasons
  • Let us drink and be merry

I welcome suggestions for both deletions and additions.


Past time with good company

The Cantabile Renaissance Band plays and sings the music that was sung in social settings in the sixteenth century (and thereabouts). This session will invite the audience to participate in rounds and simple part songs. The repertoire will be in English and not require counting after the first entrance. Music will be supplied. It will come from sources like the book of songs Henry VIII used for singing at feasts, the books of music that Thomas Ravenscroft collected for home use, the rounds used by the catch clubs in 17th century London, and songs about the plague of London in 1665.

Thirty word version

The audience will participate in rounds and simple part songs. Music will be supplied. We will sing about eating, drinking, love, birds, death, and “Publick Sickness”, from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


Here’s what I put in my application. At some point they might tell me where I can see and edit the description and membership of the group.

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