Cantabile Renaissance Band FAQ

What’s a Renaissance Band?

It’s like a recorder group, but with other instruments in addition to recorders. We have a wide range of early reed and brass
instruments, and sometimes strings, including modern fiddles,
and viols. We can also accomodate modern descendants of early wind
instruments (e.g., modern
flute, trombone). We also
welcome singers.

What do you mean, “Renaissance”?

That most of the music we play will be Renaissance polyphony of
some kind.

People learning to play non-recorder Renaissance wind
instruments don’t have anywhere to go play with people. There
are lots of recorder and viol groups that just meet in people’s
living rooms and have fun, but nothing equivalent for loud

So we play Renaissance music without a conductor.
We play big band stuff like Gabrielli, but also the vocal and dance music,
like Dowland and Susato. Players who wish to can try out
improvisation and ornamentation styles.

Who can come?

The instrumentation for most renaissance music is not
specified, and even where it was obviously written for voices or
some particular instrumentation,
it’s obvious that that didn’t stop other instruments from using

So we’re going to welcome anybody who’s interested in this
repertoire on any instrument that they
want to play with a group like this one.

Who shouldn’t come?

If you only play recorders, you would probably be more
comfortable joining a recorder group. But if you also sing, you’d
probably enjoy our method of sightreading on instruments
(including recorders), and then moving to the vocal version.

If you don’t yet know the fingerings on your instrument, you should spend some
time practicing them first, so that you aren’t asking the people
you play with to watch you look at fingering charts.

If the instrument you play is designed for playing in modern
concert halls, and you don’t have the control over the dynamics to
balance the more intimate quality of the Renaissance instruments,
you should probably join a modern band. In other words,
musically, I’d rather play with a good clarinet player than a
squawky shawm player, but part of the point of this group is to
give the squawky shawm player a place to improve, and there are
lots of other groups designed for the squawky clarinet player.

If you don’t read music easily, you’ll probably not be comfortable with
the amount of sightreading difficult music we do.

This group concentrates on polyphonic music that was written for
people who thought of their part as a solo part. So even though
we can’t guarantee that you will always be alone on your part, we
also prefer to play with people who are comfortable being alone on
a part. So if you’re looking for a group where you will be able
to depend on someone else to learn your part, you should look

So how do I join?

Show up at a drop-in meeting. When we aren’t
performing, this is most Tuesday evenings, but check the blog
for specific schedules. If we’re rehearsing for a performance,
meetings are restricted to the people who have committed to doing
that performance.

If you decide you want to be kept informed about what we’re doing,
you should join the mailing
. In theory, people without email could keep in touch by
phone and snail-mail, but it doesn’t seem to ever really happen.

Great, how do I help, and what should I bring?

Send copies of this notice, or this flyer, to anyone else you think might be

If you’re going to a concert, dance event, or workshop that
might have people who would be interested in this, print out, or let me give you
some flyers to take.

After rehearsals, we typically spend some
time eating and drinking together, so any contribution to the
refreshments is welcome.

If you have music you’ve been dying to play with a group like
this, bring 8 or 10 copies of it. I’d appreciate being told in
advance about it.

Do you perform?

Yes, we’ve been performing several times a year. We play every
year at the Project Bread Walk for Hunger, at a beautiful
spot on the banks of the Charles River. ((See
We often perform
at the picnics of the Boston
Wort Processors
picnics. We have also played at
theaters and art galleries. We performed on the Loring
Greenough House concert series in March of 2008 and the
Boston Public Library Never too late series in
December of 2007.

If you know of an event that should have Renaissance music, let me know.

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