[cantabile] Report on April 19 coaching session with John Tyson

Rehearsal log

A very productive evening. We did:

  • Clear or Cloudy
  • Changeons Propos
  • Now is the month of Maying
  • My love hath vowed he will forsake me
  • The Silver Swan

Decision log

We made some decisions:

  • Dynamics in Now is the Month of Maying: Second verse, loud on “and
    to the bagpipes sound” and soft on “the nymphs tread out the ground”;
    Third verse: soft on “say dainty nymphs and speak”; crescendo through
    “shall we play barley break”.
  • Parts on Silver Swan — Paul will not play cornetto the first time
  • Key on Silver Swan will be D rather than Eb. This means that if
    you’re playing on the instrumental, you should print out your part
    especially if you’re playing quintus or altus, which had errors in
    them when I looked. (The errors had been fixed in the source, but the
    fixes hadn’t made it to the pdf.)

More decisions

We have some more decisions to make; input is welcomed.

Program order.

I’ve listed the sets as:

  • May music
  • Drinking music
  • river music
    • Swans
    • Babylon

This gives us our typical “Begin with Morley and end with Billings”,
but means that there’s a lot of pretty serious music at the end. Also,
if I mistime the program, we may play the wrong number of rounds in
the Drinking songs set.

So I think it might make more sense to do:

  • May music
  • Swans
  • Drinking songs
  • Babylon

Let me know what you think.


I think we were starting to be a bit top-heavy last night. Some of
this is that people weren’t really looking at their part assignments,
and I had other things to do than policing them. I’m sure I attempted
to move either Patricia or Anne to the second line whenever there would
otherwise have been Patricia, Anne, and Paul on top and only me on

I don’t want to make anyone do a part they aren’t comfortable with,
and the balance will be so different outdoors that it’s hard for us to
make reasonable decisions anyway. But if you’re ok with the move, I
think it would be better to at least try the decisions I made on

On “My love hath vowed”, I was expecting everybody to sing the B
section and the fourth verse A section (not just the people listed for
vocal solos). I was also thinking we might have instrumental support
on the top line. I’m assuming the people who weren’t singing or
playing had neglected to print the music out. Please do so (or ask me
to) by Tuesday, so we can play with this a little.

I will be posting a final order with updated part assignments
before the Tuesday meeting, so let me know what you think about any of
this by Sunday.


Remember that the rehearsal on April 26 starts at 7:45 PM, and
people who need to do setup and tuning should arrive in time to do it
before the start time.

The May 1 schedule is:

  • 10:30 – 10:45 Laura solo
  • 10:45 – 11:30 Ishmael dance music, including others as he
    considers appropriate. Let him know if you want to be included
  • 11:30 – 12 Laura and Bonnie, Morley duos
  • 12 – 12:30 Quilisma Consort
  • 12:30 – 1:15 Cantabile Renaissance Band
  • 1:15 – 1:45 Quilisma Consort
  • 1:45 – 2:30 Cantabile Renaissance Band
  • 2:30 – 3:00 Greatest hits from previous sets whose performers
    are still there

If you aren’t playing the morning sessions, arrive as soon after
noon as possible, so that we can be set up and ready to go as soon as
Qulisma finishes their set.

[cantabile] Report on the April 12 rehearsal

The good news is that we were joined again by Patricia Hawkins, who
is also planning to play the Walk for Hunger. This means that we’re a
lot better off for singing on the vocal top lines.

The bad news is that between trying to thoroughly rehearse
some of the things we’re shaky on or trying out new part assignments (good),
and how long it took everyone to be in place with their instruments
tuned and music in front of them (bad), we got through only a small amount
of what we need to rehearse in the next two weeks. The rehearsal
next week will be a coaching session on another small part of the
repertoire, so this really can’t happen on April 26. We really have
to be able to start playing at 7:45, which means everybody has to have
their books in order and marked with what they’re playing, and the
people with setup and tuning time have to be there well before the
start time.

I have updated the part
to reflect the decisions we made last night. If you
need any help printing your parts, or understanding what you’re
playing, please ask me before the next rehearsal.

We played:

  • Drinking rounds
  • Babylon group
  • Changeons Propos
  • Il Bianco e dolce cigno

[cantabile] Report from April 5 meeting

We got through a lot of stuff:

  • Good morrow, fair ladies of the May. This will be done by a small
    group if at all.
  • All the drinking songs on the setlist,
    except “To Anacreon in Heaven”. The ones that need more work are
    “Slaves are they that heap up Mountains” and “Vive la Serpe”.
  • The River set, except the Swan ones that we did Saturday, and
    excluding the 5-part Vecchi Cigno, which we have decided to postpone
    until after the May performance. This set is in pretty good shape;
    the Billings needs work, and will sound better when we have everyone.
  • The May music, except the Campian and “April is in my Mistress’
    Face”. We may drop April if it continues to sound as bad as it
    sometimes does these days.

Printing music

For the next meeting, please have your music printed and
organized. I decided not to do booklets for people, because we’ve
been doing a lot of this stuff for years, and most of it for months,
and many people have their own copies with helpful markings on them.
So I’ve felt that the work that I’ve put into having booklets hasn’t
always produced better performances. However, having everything
organized does produce better rehearsals. I’m happy to print things
for you, but you have to tell me what you need.

I have annotated the setlist,
so please check it if you have old music, to make sure you have
up-to-date copies in the right key.

[cantabile] Report on the March 29 rehearsal

Some decisions we made:

  • Clear or Cloudy isn’t ready for public performance. We will work
    harder on it next month, and I will try to get better underlay.
  • Anne’s voice works fine as an instrument in an instrumental
  • The serpent isn’t ready to play 15 minute performances in settings
    where there’s no warmup time.


Let me know if I have any of this wrong.

  1. April is in my Mistress’ Face
    • Instrumental: Bruce and Laura, T recorder, Ishmael, Fiddle,
      Bonnie, viol.
    • Vocal: Bonnie and Anne, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce
  2. The Silver Swan
    • 4-foot instrumental: Laura, Bruce, Ishmael, Anne, Bonnie
    • vocal: Anne, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce, Bonnie (viol)
    • 8-foot instrumental: Laura, Anne, Ishmael, Bruce, Bonnie
  3. Me, Me and None but Me
    • Instrumental: Bonnie, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce (trombone)
    • Vocal (2 verses): Bonnie and Anne, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce
  4. Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno (Arcadelt)
    • Big instruments: Bruce, Laura, Ishmael, Bonnie
    • Vocal: Anne and Bonnie, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce
    • Recorders: Bonnie, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce

Transcription error

We discovered an error in the Tenor line of the Eb version of “The
Silver Swan”. The words “death ap-” in the second phrase should be
eighth notes not quarter notes. I will fix this all the places I
can. I think the 2004 book isn’t fixable, so if you print it out
again, do it from the
laymusic.org site.

Plans for March 15th coaching session with John Tyson

We’ll be at John’s place (310 1/2 Pearl St. in Cambridge) starting at 8
PM. 310 1/2 is behind 308, down a long driveway. They don’t enforce
the permit only parking there in the evening, so there shouldn’t be a
problem parking on the street. Let me know if you need more
directions than that. His phone number is (617) 661-3353.

We’re expecting Anne (voice), Bonnie (voice, recorder, bass viol),
Laura (voice, recorder, serpent), Ishmael (voice, recorder, fiddle),
Bruce (voice, recorder, trombone), and Stuart (cello).
If this list is wrong in any respect, please let me know. Also let me
know if you need me to bring any music.

I’ve given all the part assignments top voice to bottom voice.

We’ll be working on the playlist for the April 2 gig, which is a
subset of the playlist of the May 1 gig, so people from both gigs are
coming. We will probably do only two or three pieces, and work on
them pretty intensely.

There’s a problem practicing for the April gig, because we have two
five-part pieces, and only 5 people playing, one of whom doesn’t play
an instrument, so we may decide not to do our usual instrumental then
vocal route for those pieces.

April is in my mistress’ face

April part assignments: instrumental: Bruce, Laura, Ishmael,

Vocal: Anne, Laura, Ishmael, Bonnie and Bruce.

Stuart will probably be playing bass in May, but it might make sense for him
to also learn the tenor, so maybe he should play tenor this week.

Clear or Cloudy

April part assignments: Anne, Bonnie, Ishmael, Bruce, Laura. We will
fiddle with whether there’s an instrumental that makes sense at the
March 29 meeting. Stuart should play bass, and that way we can also
do the May configuration where Bonnie and Anne will both be on the top
line, and Laura will be on Altus.

Quintus is between Altus and Tenor in this piece.

Silver Swan

Make sure you have the version in Eb (three flats in the

April part assignments: Anne, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce, Bonnie.
Again, we’ll fiddle with an April instrumental version on March 29,
Stuart will play bass so Bonnie and Anne can both sing top line.

Quintus is between Cantus and Altus in this piece.

Me, me and none but me

April part assignments: Instrumental: Bonnie, Laura, Ishmael,
Bruce. Vocal: Anne, Laura, Ishmael, Bruce. I’d like to see if this
works a capella, in which case Bonnie can sing top line with
Anne, and we can do the instrumental completely on recorders, since
it’s a recorder society gig. If not, Bonnie will play viol with Bruce
on the vocal, and probably also on the instrumental version, in which
case Bruce will play top line in the instrumental.

In any case, Stuart will play bass except when we’re experimenting
with what we can do without him.

Arcadelt, Il bianco e dolce cigno

Same assignments as Me, me and none but me.

Report on March 15 Coaching session with John Tyson

It was good to play for an experienced pair of ears like John’s.
We worked on establishing a tuning routine for the strings, and on
having the instrumentalists as well as the singers be more sensitive
to the words, and on having everybody be more aware that they’re
telling a story.

We played:

  • Arcadelt, Il bianco e dolce cigno
  • Morley, April is in my mistress’ face
  • Dowland, Me, me and none but me
  • Dowland, Clear or cloudy

Future plans

We still haven’t completely settled the orchestration for the April
performance. If Barney can make it to the March 22 rehearsal to stand
in for Bruce (I know he doesn’t play trombone, but he sings in the same
range and can play the recorder parts), we should be able to decide
that, and then work intensely on that program on March 29.

Corrections to the music

We found two errors in the printed music.

  1. The Bassus in April is
    in my mistress’ face has an F in the wrong octave in measure 25, and
    should be either corrected by hand or
    printed from www.laymusic.org.
  2. The Cantus part in “Me, me and none but me” has two eighth notes
    in measure 20 that are a step up from where they should be. This
    should be printed from laymusic.org.

Plan for March 8 meeting

We will be meeting tonight, Tuesday, March 8, at the usual time and


We have to decide both what we’re playing on April 2 and what we want
to work on with John Tyson next week.

I know Barney said he couldn’t make it on March 15, but he’s also
not playing April 2, so that’s OK. I’ll be having a lesson with John
on Thursday, and talking to him then about what we want to work on, so
if any of Anne, Bonnie, Bruce, Ishmael, and Stuart can’t make it on
the 15th, I’l like to know by the 10th.

I’ve been saying that it will be either drinking songs or river music,
because April 2 is too early for May music. But lately I’ve been
thinking that there are two April songs on the May music program, both
of which are based on the same Italian poem. So my current thinking
is we do those, and either two “Silver Swan”s or two “Rivers of


  • April is in my mistress’ face
  • Clear or cloudy

And either:

  • The Silver Swan
  • Arcadelt, Il blanco e doce Cigno


  • Estans Assis
  • Campian or Billings

Right now I’m leaning towards the Swans, on the grounds that it’s a
recorder society event, and the Billings isn’t really a recorder

So I want to run all of the above tonight, as well as the Vecchi
“Il bianco e dolce Cigno”.

New Music

We didn’t run the three-part Dowland I transcribed last week. It may
take more time that we have, but if not, it would be good to not leave
it on the spindle for too long.

John and I have been doing a couple of settings of “Adieu mes amours”,
and if I get around to transcribing the one from the Odhecaton, we
might do those.

If the weather leaves us with only three parts, we have a bunch more
French stuff to read through, or we can struggle through the Dowland 3
part things again. And of course run the French drinking songs.

If it’s only two parts, some of us will be getting good at Morley or
Lassus or someone.

Future directions

We have another deadline we should be considering, which is that the
Boston Early Music Festival is happening in June. The last two
festivals have been fairly fertile recruiting grounds for us, so we
should think about what direction we want the group to move in, since
that will affect how we want to advertise it.

Currently, the group is serving several functions:

  1. A place to sightread a lot of music that nobody hears or plays
    very much.
  2. A performing group.
  3. A place where people who are learning a new instrument can play it
    with others.
  4. A place for people to play and occasionally perform that doesn’t
    require a weekly commitment.

(1) has been fairly consistent over the years; (2) is more
important now than it was two or four years ago, and (3) is losing
importance, although it was uppermost in my mind when I formed the
group, and is still emphasized in the website description.

(2) and (3) are pretty incompatible; (1) is actually an asset for
(2) although of course it takes up time we don’t have in the heat of
performance preparation. (4) is also incompatible with (2).

So I think the real thing we have to decide is do we want to emphasize
the performing, in which case we would probably want to recruit only
other people who are interested in performing, and would want to
reduce the drop-in component, and the encouraging beginners on new

As you may have noticed, the rehearsal schedule for the upcoming
performances is a weekly schedule, although I’m not expecting everyone
to come every week. I’m considering reducing the drop-in component to
the group by saying that it meets every week, and possibly designating
one or two meetings a month as particularly suitable for new members
to come.

So we’ll talk about some of this tonight, and if you can’t make it
tonight but have opinions, please let me know.