[cantabile] Report on the May 31 meeting

We did:

  • Morley:
    • Good Morrow, fair ladies of the May
    • Whether away so fast
  • Vive la serpe
  • Dowland:
    • When David’s life by Saul was often Sought
    • O Mighty God
  • Isaac, Benedictus
  • Slaves are they that heap up mountains

Plans are underway for the Boston
Wort Processors
Summer Picnic. If we want to play, we need some
people to sign up. I’ll send the official information to the usual
suspects; if you aren’t one of them and want it, let me know.

[publishing] Added the next Dowland

The next Dowland is Thou
Mighty God
. It’s actually the first verse of a three-verse through-composed
song. But it was more than the Cantabile Renaissance Band could actually chew on in one meeting,
so we’ll be continuing to work on it over the next two weeks along
with the next parts.

It was also a good morning’s work figuring out how to translate the
17th century notation into what we’re used to. It’s a good
demonstration of how differently Dowland’s musicians thought about
things like fermatas and repeat signs than we do.

After the A section, the facsimile has a double bar in all
parts. It took me quite a while to twig to the fact that that double
bar is a full stop — all the parts have different length notes before
the double bar, but although by modern counting some of them cross the
bar, that isn’t the way Dowland sang it.

Instead of a modern repeat sign, which means, “At the end-repeat,
go back to the begin-repeat”, Dowland used a relative of the segno.
He seems to have thought of it something like, “This second segno is
the corresponding place to the first segno.” So instead of writing out
first and second endings, he writes a second beginning at the
end of the repeated section, and inserts the first segno where the
repeated section starts being the same as the first time through.
This means that the segno marks are frequently in different places in
different parts.

In the case of this piece, Cantus, Altus, and Bassus all repeat
quite straightforwardly, but the Tenor finishes the phrase before the
repeat sign after all the other parts have started the new phrase.
But on the repeat, Dowland wrote music for that part that went with
the phrase after the repeat. So the tenor part has a long “second
beginning”. Rather than inflict a long “first ending” on everybody
for the sake of the tenor’s “second beginning”, I have taken the
liberty of unfolding the Tenor repeat, and inserting double bars in
the Tenor part where the repeat signs are in the other parts. In
rehearsal last night, it was confusing, but not obviously more so than
any other decision I might have made.

CCAE Renaissance Ensemble concert on May 25, 2005

The calendar listing is on the
BRS calendar.

The report on the last concert is on
my blog.
It now points to the audio recording by Dennis Ehn.

This program is a bit more ambitious than the last one, and should
be fun if we avoid disasters. There’s lots of good May music.
There’s a Loyset Compère hymn to the Virgin Mary that takes advantage
of the wonderful acoustic of the CCAE exercise studio. The serpent is
getting good at doing bass on dance music. There are two settings of
“Petite Camusette”, and 3 of “Suzanne un Jour”. And the program ends
with everyone bursting into song on “Sumer is icumen in”.

On a serious note, the Cambridge
Center
is probably going to cancel both this class and the Baroque
Ensemble class. If you’ve been to the concerts, or enjoyed listening
to the recordings of them, you might want to write Jim Smith, the
director, and tell him you think that decision should be reconsidered.

[performing] Cambridge Center Renaissance Ensemble Concert, May 25

What was probably last concert of the Cambridge Center for Adult Education
Renaissance Ensemble took place before a standing room only crowd.
(There were only a few more people than usual, but there were fewer
chairs than usual.)

Last Sunday’s dress rehearsal must have been the kind that leads to
a good performance — almost everything was better in performance than
in rehearsal. I’m told my divisions on Suzanne un jour was an
exception, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t true. There might have been
a few things that worked better on Sunday, but I’m sure the
performance as a whole was more comfortable after a few more times
getting through it without falling apart.

In any case, nothing was a total disaster; a lot of the rough edges
that had been glaring on Sunday were fixed by Wednesday, and we
recovered from the new rough edges that had never happened before with
a fair amount of aplomb.

The cornetto playing is what I can do without warmup these days. I
was expecting the pieces to be easy, because neither of them has a Bb,
both have an easy range, and they were next to each other. However, in the Michael Altenburg the
Cantus Firmus has two pages of rest in a 3-page score, and the viols
needed to tune between the pieces. I should of course just insist
on brass players equal warmup time with the viol
tuning time, but I haven’t managed that yet. Another problem was that
the director asked for crisper articulation on the repeated notes in
the Altenburg, and I haven’t figured out how to do that well yet. The
repeated notes in “Come Live with Me” seem quite separate and much
prettier to me than the Altenburg ones, so maybe I should just ignore
direction like that.

My singing was almost entirely in the tenor range, since I have the
lowest voice of the 5 female singers. I was annoyed that she gave the
“Come live with me” solo to the baritone, because it was more
comfortable for him than for me as a mezzo, but it would have been
even more comfortable than that for me as a tenor. Anyway, I managed
to not push the low F’s and to sound pretty good on everything above
that. I blew the entrance on the C above middle C in Sumer is icumen
in (the last piece), though. I think if people want an exposed
entrance on c, they should give you a note above G some time before
that.

I got lots of compliments on the “Suzanne un jour” divisions. I
guess they were good. There are easier pieces to do divisions on.
And doing them with a lute player who takes 6 weeks to simplify his
part to what he can play in an 8-week term doesn’t give you much
rehearsal time.

The serpent playing was quite good. And the microphone
configuration I found with the borrowed mic last time produces better
balance with my mic, too.


Update: The pictures are in the serpent.laymusic.org
gallery.

[cantabile] Plans for March\\May 24 meeting

We’ll have at least one new Dowland. The next one is a
through-composed, 3-verse one, so it’s as much work as setting three,
and I probably can’t do that much (I have about half the work done for
the first one as of 9 AM this morning). But we’ll see.

I’ve changed two things in the Drinking Songs book, which I’m
gearing up to sell at . So we’ll
do “Vive la Serpe” (new key and some English underlay fixes) and “O
Portsmouth”.

People should be prepared to decide whether they want to sing in
Fall River next Monday, and if several of us want to, we’ll go over
what we want to sing. I would expect “Now is the Month of Maying” if
there’s a quorum, and a selection of drinking songs, although anything
we did at the Walk for Hunger should be still an option.

[cantabile] Report on the May 24 meeting

We did:

  • O Portsmouth
  • Vive la serpe
  • Dowland, Thou Mighty God
  • Slaves are they that heap up mountains
  • Now is the month of Maying

It looks like the Memorial Day cookout in Fall River will include
Laura, Bonnie, Anne, Barney, and Paul, but Ishmael is a maybe.

I propose for a program:

  • Now is the Month of Maying (Anne on Altus and Laura on Quintus,
    unless Ishmael shows up. Paul should bring the Rackett.)
  • Changeons Propos
  • Vignons, vignons
  • Quand je Bois. All these with the “old” route of 4-foot, French,
    English. Paul, you’re playing and singing bassus; use your judgement
    about whether to do it on recorder or cornetto.
  • After that, pass out the drinking songs books to any audience and
    invite participation in some of the rounds. Based on last night, we
    do “Slaves are they” only if the audience is very friendly and
    supportive, but we can do “Anacreon in heaven” in honor of Memorial
    Day in any case.

We’ll be working out schedules and rides when we know more about
the schedule in Fall River. Please remember that it’s a pot-luck
event.

[publishing] Additions

Anthony
Holborne
wrote very polyphonic dance music. I’ve just put 5
pieces up. They’re a lot of fun — if it’s too complicated for your
group to sight read all at once, read two lines together.

The next Dowland is If that a
sinner’s sighs be angel’s food
. It’s a little easier than the
last one, althought the inner parts are still pretty wild and crazy.
I sang Altus when we read it first, and then switched to Bassus on
serpent, and the Bassus is a lot easier. Our group finds it more
comfortable down a
third.

I’ve also added an English singing translation to Vive la
Serpe
by Sermisy.