Spring performing schedule

It’s gotten busy. No sooner did I finish the
CCAE March concert
, when several other things sprung up. So
here’s where you can hear me this spring:

Update, March 28: I had forgotten to add the
West Gallery events, so I’ve put them in now.

Van Eyck’s En fin l’Amour

I’m working on this piece to play at the
Dan Laurin Masterclass
. There are a couple of ways in which existing
editions of van Eyck don’t completely meet the needs of performing
recorder players:

  • The pieces are theme and variations on popular tunes of the day,
    which van Eyck and his audience undoubtedly thought of with the
    words. The good editions include the words in endnotes, but don’t
    underlay them for the performer.
  • Several famous recorder players have told me that the way to
    practice the fancy variations is in conjunction with the simpler
    ones. That is, you play a phrase of the original tune, then the same
    phrase in the variation you’re working on. This is easy with the
    first phrase, but I end up with all kinds of markings on my music for
    finding the beginnings of the subsequent phrases easily in the
    variations.
  • Less important and maybe not important at all: printed music from the
    seventeenth century did not beam the notes. This makes the van Eyck
    facsimile all but impossible to play from, as telling the eight notes
    from the sixteenth notes is really difficult at playing speed. It
    isn’t clear that it’s really that inauthentic to play from editions
    with beamed notes — hand-written music from that era did beam notes,
    so it was probably the printing technology that made it necessary to
    not beam anything. However, in eighteenth century facsimiles, where
    there are beamed notes, the beaming is much less regular than in more
    modern printing, and is used as an editorial grouping, not a
    completely regular indication of the beats. So it isn’t clear that
    the beams in a modern edition necessarily would be the ones that van
    Eyck or one of his scribes would have written.

So as a music publisher, I am experimenting with whether there are
better ways to present the music for a performer to work on. I have
three versions of this piece on the web:

  • number
    290
    , which is unbeamed but has the tune underlaid with the words.

  • Number
    291
    , which is unbeamed, with the words underlaid, and the 4
    versions arranged as a “score”, so that it’s clear what notes in the
    variations correspond with what place in the tune and with each
    other. This one unfortunately went to three pages,
    so you might want to look at
    the beginnings of the book
    instead.

  • Number
    292
    , which is like 291, but with the notes beamed.

So if you’re a recorder player who enjoys van Eyck, try these, and let
me know what you think.

Words

The words to this one presented an editorial challenge. The Amadeus
edition that I play from has the French words in the back, and a
translation into German, but notes that the tune van Eyck used is
different from the French tune that goes with those words.

“The
Book”, Jacob
van Eyck’s Der fluyten lust-hof: (1644-c1655) (Muziekhistorische
monografieën) by Ruth van Baak Griffioen
, has a facsimile of the
tune van Eyck used with the Dutch words, but doesn’t translate them.

The French words work pretty well for the B section, but have far
too many syllables for the A section.

If I manage to get a copy and even vaguely sensible translation of
the Dutch words, and find that they’re significantly different from
the French ones, I may decide to use them instead. For now, I have
abbreviated the French A section, and have underlaid it.


Update, March 26: One surprising thing you see when you print the
variations out in score format is that the last one ends with a
flourish that makes it a measure longer than the others. This means I
had to tell lilypond that the barlines were a property of the staff rather
than the score. This meant that in the first scores I published, the
barlines disappeared, since you have to use a different command to get
a staff barline than a score barline. Since I usually publish barless
music, I didn’t even notice until someone called it to my attention.
It’s fixed now.

Report on the March 16 concert

There were about 10 people in the audience, and I think we held them
pretty well.

The pictures are in the
gallery.


Update: the recording is in the serpent.laymusic.org
audio repository
. It’s from the recording by Dennis Ehn, not the
one I describe below. Thanks, Dennis.

John Maloney will be doing the digital mastering, but the recording
came out pretty well. I had forgotten my microphone, but Dennis had
an extra so I borrowed that. It’s probably a cheaper one than mine,
because I don’t think it reproduces the bass viol as well as mine
does, but it doesn’t magnify the serpent sound as much, so the
recording is probably on the whole better.

On the whole I thought the singing and recorder playing were quite
good, and the serpent playing was better than previously. I was
disappointed that the good cornetto solo wasn’t as good in performance
as it had been in the dress rehearsal, but the Stingo playing is what
I can do these days.

CCAE Renaissance Ensemble March concert

Original article posted Thursday, March 10, after the final class
before the concert.

It’s close to the same group as the December
concert
, except that we also have Heather Fearn, who is a good
recorder player.

The rate of re-enlistment was high partly because that was an unusually
good concert. I’m not sure people are quite as interested in the music
on this one, but the general level of playing will probably be even
better.

The big reason for this is the tenor viol problem. The regulars
in the group for several years had included Barney Frazier, who plays
recorders, bass dulcian, and tenor viol. Hope Ehn, the director,
plays bass viol. So after Bonnie Rogers
joined the group bringing her treble viol, there was almost a viol
consort of treble, tenor, and bass viols, so it was pretty easy to
program viol consort music and fill in the rest of the parts with
recorders and serpent.

Unfortunately, Barney has some health problems, and isn’t in the
group any more. So for the last couple of terms, Hope’s been trying
to use the tenor serpent and the cornetto to take its place, and it
hasn’t really worked. I don’t think we should give up on the tenor
serpent forever (see Irish
tenor serpent
), but it’s really more of a baritone serpent the way
I play it at the moment, and in any case, it needs vocal lines to
sound good, and a viol doesn’t.

This term, she’s using her bass viol, and to a lesser extent a
tenor crumhorn and low recorders to do the tenor viol parts. The two
cornetto pieces are quite suitable for a beginning cornetto player,
and will sound pretty good, and the serpent parts are all normal bass
serpent parts, and will also sound good.

Because it’s a really good vocal and recorder ensemble, there’s a
lot less solo singing and recorder playing, which means I haven’t
really been practicing that stuff as intensely as in other terms. But
I’m expecting it to be a pretty good program that people will enjoy
listening to.

I have been practicing:

  • Both cornetto pieces. Stingo is just a little fast, and has a Bb
    I have to be careful about. The Altenberg cantus firmus is just
    gorgeous, and is a great segue in my practicing between doing long
    tones and playing pieces. I’m working on dynamics and shaping
    phrases.
  • The Scheidt galliard, which has dueling top lines with written out
    ornamentation which at anything like a galliard speed is fast for any
    of the recorder players in the class. I’ve been pushing for playing
    it at something like galliard speed and leaving out notes, which I
    have figured out how to do. I’d also be perfectly happy to play it at
    the speed we can play all the notes and call it something instead of a
    Galliard — it sounds like a perfectly good formal, stately intrada
    that way. But this suggestion has fallen on deaf ears.

This week I should practice:

  • The Stingo vocal. I still stumble on the words occasionally.
    Then if I get them by heart, I could practice singing it standing in
    front of a mirror and doing barmaid gestures.
  • The Monteverdi recorder part. I should work on doing some
    cadential ornaments in time.
  • The Ferrabosco Four Notes Pavan. The serpent part isn’t hard, but
    playing it soft enough to hear the top line is at the edge of what my
    lip can manage. And there are some tricky rhythms that could use a
    workout with a metronome.

The things on the program I’m really looking forward to are:

  • The opening piece, Nun fanget an.
  • Niña y viña, a 16th century Spanish thing that pretty much sings
    itself.
  • Rossi, Adon Olam, where the serpent gets to sing with a good bass
    singer for almost the first time outside of the West Gallery Quire.
  • Billings “Wake Every Breath”, where the whole room suddenly bursts
    into song.

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.

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,
Bonnie.

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
signature).

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.

Bruce’s Announcement of the March 13 meeting

I hope this will be the last email from me for a while! If you’ve recent=
ly joined this list – we don’t usually have the frantic flurry of message=
s that we had these past few weeks.

The regular West Gallery workshop is coming this weekend, and we have som=
e other newses as well.


1. THANK YOU

Great Thanks To All who participated in the Medway church service. I thought it sounded great, and the church was very pleased to have us there.
I hope everyone had a good time and didn’t lose too much sleep! All the
people in the church said they really enjoyed it, and some of them took
the flyers, so maybe we’ll see some of them at another event.

They videotaped the service; if anyone wants a copy, we should be able to
get some.

2. NEXT MEETING

The next regular West Gallery Music workshop will be next Sunday, March 13th, at the usual time (1:30 – 4:30 PM), at the usual place (St. Mary’s C
hurch in Newton Lower Falls).

Easter is coming up, so we’ll do the two “Hymn for Easter Day” pieces, an
d also the “Hymn for Good Friday” with all its blood and gore.
I want to do “Old Foster” again; we sang it last month, and it was unfami
liar to a lot of us. Since we won’t be having a regular meeting in April
, we can celebrate April Fools Day early by doing “Psalm XLI” and of cour
se the “Hotchpotch Hymn” (sung to the tune of “Dulverton”). If there’s a
nother song in the book which you’d like to do, let me know!

Please bring your friends! We’ve been getting quite a few newcomers rece
ntly; I hope this trend continues. If you know any Oboe, Clarinet, Basso
on, or Concertina players, twist their arms – we don’t get many reed inst
ruments, and it would be nice to have some more. Of course, singers and o
ther instruments are welcome too!

Who has the West Gallery Music Video? I forget who last borrowed it. If
you’re done with it, someone else might want to see it.

If anyone is involved with concerts, dances, sings, or other events with
other groups, please bring some flyers and put them on the table. This i
s more efficient than trying to announce them during the meeting.

3. NEFFA:

Next month we won’t be meeting in Newton because Neffa is the same weekend. We’re leading a West Gallery workshop at Neffa on Sunday, April 10, at
Noon in the Small Hall.

Start thinking about what songs we might like to do there; the procedure
will be the same as last time, with a booklet of songs for everyone. I’ll need some people to make copies, some people to hand them out, welcome
people, and show them where to sit (we’ll also have the signs, like last
year), and everyone else should sit in the room amongst the assembled multitudes.

Stay tuned for more about this. Yes, that means another email!

4. ANOTHER GIG.

We’ve been asked to perform at the Sunday morning service at St. Mary’s (
where we meet) on April 24th. A few people already said they’re availabl
e for this, so I presume we’ll be able to rustle up a goodly crowd. I do
n’t know any further details, but I’ll let you know when I find out. I t
hink the service is at 10:00 (not at 8:45!).

We’ll have a couple of rehearsals on different week-nights (it won’t snow
). Watch this space for further updates. Yes, that means yet another em
ail!

5. TUNE LIST:

Please check the Tune List has at the web site (www.laymusic.org/wg.html)
If you’re missing anything, let me know. I can also give you a printed copy of the song list if you can’t get to the web site easily.

You should take your music booklet with you if you plan to come regularly
, or even irregularly. Put it in a 3-ring binder so it doesn’t explode.
I always bring a few booklets for newcomers, but I’d rather not carry to
ns-o-stuff around.

6. WEATHER OR NOT (repeated from last 3 months):

A) Now that the Weather season is upon us, be careful on the stairs at th
e church. We’re supposed to use the door at the right-hand end of the bu
ilding, but please use the ramp at the center door instead if you need to
; I always unlock this door.

B) If I need to cancel a meeting because of weather, I will send an email
to this list, probably on the morning of the meeting. If you don’t have
access to your email on that day, please call me (978-373-5852) if the w
eather is questionable.

C) If you need a ride from the T or elsewhere, send a message to this lis
t; if someone’s coming your way, maybe they can give you a lift.

I hope to see you on the 13th! And please pass this message on to other
people who might be interested.

Best wishes,

Bruce Randall
melismata@hotmail.com
978-373-5852

See our web page at http://www.laymusic.org/wg.html

See the West Gallery Music Association’s web page at: http://www.wgma.org
uk