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Playing medieval music medievally

David Carter (UK) 27 Sep 18 - 12:42 PM
leeneia 27 Sep 18 - 10:35 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 Sep 18 - 05:57 AM
Jack Campin 27 Sep 18 - 03:30 AM
medievallassie 26 Sep 18 - 09:41 PM
David Carter (UK) 26 Sep 18 - 02:25 AM
Jack Campin 26 Sep 18 - 01:42 AM
medievallassie 26 Sep 18 - 12:04 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 25 Sep 18 - 09:20 AM
leeneia 24 Sep 18 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,ripov 22 Sep 18 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,ripov 22 Sep 18 - 08:52 PM
Tootler 22 Sep 18 - 05:49 PM
Tootler 22 Sep 18 - 05:40 PM
Mr Red 22 Sep 18 - 05:26 PM
medievallassie 22 Sep 18 - 04:53 PM
leeneia 22 Sep 18 - 10:20 AM
Jack Campin 22 Sep 18 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 22 Sep 18 - 08:50 AM
Jack Campin 21 Sep 18 - 11:54 AM
Stanron 21 Sep 18 - 08:10 AM
Manitas_at_home 21 Sep 18 - 07:29 AM
Stower 21 Sep 18 - 07:01 AM
GUEST 20 Sep 18 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Some bloke 20 Sep 18 - 12:14 PM
leeneia 20 Sep 18 - 12:00 PM
Manitas_at_home 20 Sep 18 - 08:16 AM
Donuel 20 Sep 18 - 08:12 AM
Donuel 20 Sep 18 - 08:05 AM
Mr Red 20 Sep 18 - 03:26 AM
GUEST,ripov 06 Sep 18 - 04:56 PM
Jack Campin 05 Sep 18 - 07:11 PM
Stower 05 Sep 18 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie 04 Sep 18 - 05:50 PM
Jack Campin 04 Sep 18 - 02:15 PM
Jack Campin 04 Sep 18 - 11:46 AM
Stower 02 Sep 18 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie 01 Sep 18 - 05:53 PM
Stower 01 Sep 18 - 08:19 AM
GUEST 01 Sep 18 - 05:59 AM
Stower 01 Sep 18 - 05:46 AM
GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie 30 Aug 18 - 04:18 PM
Stower 30 Aug 18 - 02:33 PM
Jack Campin 30 Aug 18 - 03:42 AM
Stower 29 Aug 18 - 07:21 PM
Jack Campin 29 Aug 18 - 06:56 PM
Tootler 29 Aug 18 - 06:43 PM
Jack Campin 29 Aug 18 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 29 Aug 18 - 10:11 AM
Jack Campin 29 Aug 18 - 08:15 AM
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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 Sep 18 - 12:42 PM

Some are known to be older because they are found in earlier sources, with others is not really known.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: leeneia
Date: 27 Sep 18 - 10:35 AM

I believe that Piae Cantiones was merely collected and printed in the 16th C, and that the tunes themselves are older.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 Sep 18 - 05:57 AM

Ok, its not entirely secular (given the title), but Piae Cantiones, which dates from about 25 years before Ravenscroft, contains melodies which are medieval (In Dulci Jubilo for one), and it may be that others contained therein have a medieval origin.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Sep 18 - 03:30 AM

None of Ravenscroft's songs is known from any other source that would suggest an earlier origin. For "Scotland's burning", the content does suggest it predates him - but it relates to the invasion of Scotland in 1547, which was not in the Middle Ages.

There is no evidence that anybody anywhere in Ravenscroft's time derived the secular music they played from any mediæval source.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: medievallassie
Date: 26 Sep 18 - 09:41 PM

Jack, I'm going to have to protest that Ravenscroft is "well past medieval". A book published in 1609 contains songs well established in the years prior and the renaissance didn't start at the same time throughout the world. The fact that we as a society regularly sing songs from the 1800's and 1900's offers a very valid argument that a songbook published in 1609...when songs were predominantly learned from generation to generation through oral tradition...would contain songs from the 1500's and 1400's.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 26 Sep 18 - 02:25 AM

Kassia was medieval, even fairly early medieval. Many of her hymns have survived in Orthodox liturgy to this day, and you can listen to them sung by modern choirs on youtube. But how authentic is the modern rendition? And is the music really contemporary with the words? We know that the music for what we think of as medieval carols, such as the Wexford carol, is actually much more recent than the words.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Sep 18 - 01:42 AM

Ravenscroft is well post-mediæval, you might as well say Beyoncé is Regency.

The idea of indicating triplets by beaming goes well past Vickers - Rachmaninov did it sometimes. The problem with the notation of triple-time hornpipes is that a lot of the people writing them in manuscripts didn't really know what they were doing. Many 18th century notebooks have 4 bars of 3/2 written as 6 bars of 4/4.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: medievallassie
Date: 26 Sep 18 - 12:04 AM

Thank you goes out to Mr. Red for posting the link to the Melismata that I sent to him. I mentioned to him that there was another book that I couldn't recall the name of but I was able to track it down in my files on another computer. The second book, published in 1609 but with songs that obviously were sung prior to that date is Thomas Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia which can be found here: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ravenscroft/deuteromelia/


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 25 Sep 18 - 09:20 AM

Repeating tunes in a progressive style was a way of reaching the tempo people were used to.

Fascinating series of lectures on the subject I attended when I was taking my Grade 8 many moons ago that our school arrangedca few of us to attend at RA.

Mind you, I do reference more than one book before posting, Jack. I assume you need to ensure it is fully crayoned in before moving to another book eh?

Just because I use Some Bloke rather than Ian Mather, doesn’t mean I enjoy my relating academic opinion being trashed by ignorance. An apology would be nice but not expected. I’m relating it. Unlike some here, I am not shackled by certainty. Just relating what I know has been proffered.

For anyone wondering who hasn’t read up the thread, I mentioned that there is a large body of opinion in musicology circles that overall, tempo has decreased over the last few hundred years. Interesting viewpoint relative to the thread. But seems to have been missed by Prof Sir J Campin, so dismissed and attempted to make others look silly.

Enough! (See his post for details)


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: leeneia
Date: 24 Sep 18 - 11:07 AM

Hello, Tootler. I've noticed those hornpipes shifting from 6/4 to 3/2 and back.

Last Sunday we played a Courante which was in 6/4, except for the penultimate measure, which was in 3/2. It made for a strong thumping which signals that the dance is about to end. I've seen this kind of change before.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 09:04 PM

>Tootler
yes
But not in baroque? Bach does that. And knowing just how to deal with it is one of the reasons why the better you know his music, the harder his (and others, eg Haydn's) music is to play.
In earlier music, syncopation can be made fairly obvious, or a simple change in the number of beats in a bar, the bars continuing at the same speed.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 08:52 PM

>Stower
thank you

I would argue that "dotted" hornpipes are not played in triplets (any more than a strathspey is), although it is easy to fall into doing that; and they certainly have 4 beats in a bar: but this does illustrate my point.
My understanding is that:-
In plainchant the long is divided into 2 or 3 breves, depending on whether the the time is perfect or imperfect.. In perfect time, if two breves are written the first is (often) twice the length of the second. If the number of breves is odd there is a triplet somewhere!


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Tootler
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 05:49 PM

I realised that what I said about the Vickers manuscript doesn't follow properly from the previous sentence. Vickers actually notated hornpipes in 3/4 time, simply halving the note values.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Tootler
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 05:40 PM

Going back to hornpipes.

Writing them in 4/4 is probably the best way because they are not always played in 12/8 time. They are mostly here in North East England and in Ireland but Southern English hornpipes tend to be played with straight quavers with maybe a slight lengthening of the first of a pair.

In fact hornpipes were originally in triple time, often written in 3/2 time but the way they were played often varied between 3/2 and 6/4 time. In the 18th century Willam Vickers manuscript he uses the beaming of the quavers to indicate how each bar should be played, beaming in 3s in some bars and in others in pairs. This kind of rhythmic variation within a tune seems to have been not uncommon in the renaissance (galliards frequently shift between triple and duple time) but seems to have died out in the baroque. I imagine this kind of rhythmic variation within a tune between triple and duple time could well have dated from further back than the renaissance.

I've read somewhere that the 4/4 hornpipe originated on the London Stage during the 18th century, likely in the second half of the century as Handel was writing triple time hornpipes in the first half of the century.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Mr Red
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 05:26 PM

Ah, I think medievallassie might have wanted to post the blickie - this is what she sent to me.

Melismata. Mvsicall Phansies. Fitting the Covrt, Citie, and Covntrey Hvmovrs. To 3, 4, and 5. Voyces. (1611)

book to download. Enjoy


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: medievallassie
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 04:53 PM

This is a resource that some of you might find valuable. I know I did because I was wanting to find the authentic words to a few of the modern folk songs such as "Frog went a Courting". This book has the medieval version :-)


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: leeneia
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 10:20 AM

Wrong tempo? Why assume that medieval pieces had a right tempo? Tempo probably varied from place to place, with the skill of the players, with the quality of their instruments, and (esp. with dance music) with the age and skill of the dancers.

In the case of a song melody with more than one set of words, sad words probably went slower than happy words.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 10:10 AM

Music that isn't played at all can't be getting played at the wrong tempo. Apart from liturgical melodies, no repertoire survived in actual use from the Middle Ages, and no practicing musician by Shakespeare's time could even have got their hands on a mediæval score to bungle it.

(The only Gardiner book I have is Music in the Castle of Heaven, which doesn't mention tempi anywhere, as far as I can see).

Another instance where the same music did get played slower is classical Ottoman music - the process is described in Feldman's Music of the Ottoman Court. Feldman figured out that tempi dropped by a factor of 3 between 1500 and 1800, holding steady from there on. You can work that out by seeing what percussion accompanists were expected to do: the number of drumstrokes in a bar went up as bars took more time. But the Ottomans retained their old repertoire over those 300 years - until the late Renaissance, Western European repertoire just got abandoned when the next big thing came along.

Enough - anonymous timewasters aren't worth any more effort.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 22 Sep 18 - 08:50 AM

Gardiner addressed a historical point regardless of genre. His hypothesis was strengthened by noting marching tunes that were based on the time taken to travel between known barracks, instruments not used due to physical limitations at faster tempos and how sub melodies in many genres require certain tempos in order to “work.”

Please try to see beyond his label and note, not necessarily agree but note his interpretation of historical style.

If you require people to use the term “medieval” in order to accept that a large body of academia believe tempos were generally faster in use from medieval to c18 time, then I suggest you at least research it rather than embarrass yourself repeatedly.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Sep 18 - 11:54 AM

Gardiner was addressing an issue irrelevant to mediæval music. His thing is the Baroque, and he was trying to correct a long slide to slower tempi when playing Baroque music. There have been other times and places where the same process has happened: the most extreme is how Gagaku music developed in Japan, where what we now hear as the melody was originally the gracenotes in the Chinese originals.

But mediæval European music didn't go through centuries of being played progressively wronger. It went through centuries of not being played at all. Most of what is now known and played was never published until our lifetimes and is only known from one-off copies in manuscripts. There never were any misconceptions about its tempo.

Until very recently. Cait Webb described one school of performance as "drums and fun", imposing compulsive metric regularity and folkish jollity on the music for modern marketing reasons. The absolute pits for that, in my experience, is John Renbourn's atrocious rendition of Machaut's "Douce Dame Jolie", like a mashup of Singing Together and the Clancy Brothers. No performer with a clue would now do anything like that.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stanron
Date: 21 Sep 18 - 08:10 AM

Yes there's quite a difference in feel between 6/8 and 12/8. I think of swung hornpipes as 12/8. Dotted 4/4 gets close but before hornpipes were notated like that I'm not sure anyone actually played dotted 4/4. It's just a notation shortcut.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 21 Sep 18 - 07:29 AM

I don't play hornpipes in 6/8. 12/8 maybe but often I play them heavily "dotted" so 12/8 would not be a good way to write them down.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stower
Date: 21 Sep 18 - 07:01 AM

Hello, GUEST,ripov. Your point about hornpipes isn't really (I don't think) connected with the problems of reading non-mensural notation. At some point it became the convention to write hornpipes in the wrong time signature, since they're written in 4/4 but played in 6/8. All this pseudo-mysteriousness we often hear people talk about hornpipe rhythm goes away if we just write them as we play them - in 6/8. That makes the rhythmic proportion right and takes away the need for those triplets. Blues and jazz are different matters, I think, as writing down something that is rhythmically quite free in a form that dictates where the beat lies is always going to be a clash of two media.

Mr. Red, you clearly haven't read the replies above. Since Shakespeare wasn't alive in the middle ages then dance from his period cannot be medieval. I think this is probably obvious.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Sep 18 - 12:35 PM

I always find this fascinating. How, exactly, do we KNOW that a tempo has slowed, sped up or whatever considering there are no MMs to go by.
"Largo" can be broadly interpreted and is seemingly played according to current fashion. Isn't historical performance really all just a guess?

"Pick it up, ya slackers!!!" - A.Vivaldi


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 20 Sep 18 - 12:14 PM

Just seen the thread again.

I notice Jack Campin pulled me up by assuming I don’t know baroque from medieval. I do wish people didn’t purposely misread what others put in order to look smug. This is Mudcat, not some political social media.

I said that Gardiner (who happens to be a bit of a wizard when it comes to baroque in the opinion of many) believes that music (I didn’t note any genre or specific time period) has decreased tempo over the years and we tend to play most pieces slower than they were originally scored. It was an observation that is relevant to the thread, whereas noting the specialism of the scholar in question isn’t as he widens his observation beyond his genre.

Tsk.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Sep 18 - 12:00 PM

Thanks for the link, Donuel. I agree that the combination works.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 20 Sep 18 - 08:16 AM

Jan Gabarak and Officium.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Donuel
Date: 20 Sep 18 - 08:12 AM

saxophone and medieval choir


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Donuel
Date: 20 Sep 18 - 08:05 AM

An example of NOT playing medieval music medievally are CD recordings of chansons and sacred music by a choir with the solo addition of a tenor saxaphone. Perhaps the title is Requium. The recordings are made in churchs and sanctuaries with lots of natural reverb. I really like it.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Sep 18 - 03:26 AM

Historical Dance this Saturday social dancing with the Night Watch, described as Shakespearean. I'm sure the thread originator can tell us how much medieval music will be included.

Halesowen, West Mids.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 06 Sep 18 - 04:56 PM

Regarding non-mensural notation; this is not just a mediaeval matter, although nowadays some effort (like using bar lines)is usually made to better indicate the rhythm.

4/4 hornpipes whether "dotted" or not, are written (except by those unfamiliar with the idea) in straight quavers except at the end of a phrase. The performer knows, or is free to choose, just how the notes are proportioned. And my late wife, a vastly more experienced musician than me, once asked me to play from a sheet of music, which I did; but with my classical training I played it exactly as written, thus making a total fool of meself; it was unrecognisable. Until she joined in and I realised it was a well known blues number.

Too many years ago, when I was still a treble, I was taught that plainchant should have the same rhythm as speech. This turns out to be a counsel of perfection, at least for the average singer; and certainly for several singing together, when a certain uniformity of timing becomes essential.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Sep 18 - 07:11 PM

The point of the comparison with the Turkish model is that there have been modal systems which fit secular modal music quite informatively. But nobody seems to have felt it mattered in the Christian Middle Ages (Grocheio said something to the effect that it was a waste of time trying) - except for the handful of tunes like "L'Homme Armé" that crossed over into liturgical use, so you'd need to know what contexts they'd fit into, why bother?

Reading back a bit, there were precedents for this. Ancient Greek music theoreticians had many subtle references to the music they couldn't analyze and didn't want to talk about. Quite likely this undocumented stuff (like aulos tunes) was the bulk of what ancient Greeks actually listened to.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stower
Date: 05 Sep 18 - 06:11 PM

Jack, events in 20th century Kenya don't tell us useful information about medieval Europe, neither does Turkish music inform us about 14th century France. In the link you give for Douce Dame Jolie the dorian mode is transposed upwards, so the transposed reciting note is d'. I find it difficult to understand why you can't see what a central role that note plays in the melody.

As Anne says, medieval writers were the literate few, and so they are the only audience who can give us information.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie
Date: 04 Sep 18 - 05:50 PM

The trouble is, the only references I'm likely to find to stories being read aloud in instalments will be to important people, the nature of historical record being what it is. But I do need actual references that I can cite in an academic thesis - and to twelfth or thirteenth century Europe, at that.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Sep 18 - 02:15 PM

I'm not convinced that the dominant occurs in a prominent enough role in "Douce dame jolie" to count as a reciting tone.

Just so we're singing from the same hymnsheet

On the other hand, the progression is quite a bit like the examples in these (scroll to the end):

Seyir of the huseyni mode
Seyir of the neva mode

which give the expected melodic path of the nearest Turkish equivalents to mode I - note how they zoom up to the octave in the second half, and then fall through the whole range, in the same way as Machaut's song. Turkish/Arabic theory was less bound by a small repertoire of melodies than its Christian parallel (which started out with the intention only of cataloguing psalm tones). That is, there was a modal theory which could have described "Douce dame" realistically, but it didn't get to the right place at the right time.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Sep 18 - 11:46 AM

Ngugi wa Thiong'o said that when his novel "Petals of Blood" was first published in Kikuyu (the first ever novel in that language) it immediately sparked a trend for storytellers to read it out in bars. It's a long book and you'd probably need a week's drinking to get through it. That certainly wasn't an audience of "important people".


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stower
Date: 02 Sep 18 - 04:07 PM

Yes, it's a big ask, both for a festival organiser and a festival audience. Have you tried literary festivals? This may, sadly, be an idea the 21st century can't accommodate.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie
Date: 01 Sep 18 - 05:53 PM

That's been my working hypothesis, too - there are certainly reports of people reading works in instalments to important people, but whether it was ever made a formal part of entertainment more generally we'll probably never know. And yes, the recreation of it all is a bit of a problem - I did approach a couple of week-long festivals with that as part of what I could offer, but so far no offers. The frustration for me is that when I'm telling the one hour standard set I'm obviously going to go for the central "meat" in the story, which means there are some episodes I've never tried out with a modern audience. And that also means I can't find out how the structure of the piece works.
A weekend festival might be OK if I could have, say, three chunks of time over the weekend. Whether I would find an audience ready and willing to come to each chunk of course is another question, and perhaps the thought of the festival organisers, too.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stower
Date: 01 Sep 18 - 08:19 AM

Based on no specific evidence whatever, but just as a working hypothesis, I wonder if a story that took many hours to tell over a number of days were at a fixed point in the day at the commission of some important person. It all depends on context, which I'm not aware of, but I can imagine some lord and his court having a story told in instalments over several days at a fixed point in the day, so it's an event everyone looks forward to, another way of a VIP being entertained while showing power and prestige. Since all the records were made by the literate, i.e. clergy and court, this would fit the general facts. I can't imagine this serialisation is something a modern performer can recreate, except at a week-long festival (I'm supposing a weekend festival wouldn't do it).


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 18 - 05:59 AM

Thanks, Ian - as I've been saying, the song (and musical) side of things may well be related to the storytelling, but no one seems to know how far the connections go as we simply don't have the evidence (as far as I've been able to ascertain) about how stories were performed/presented/told. As Aucassin et Nicolette is referred to as a cante-fable (and I haven't checked how far back that label was applied) it seems reasonable to assume that it was considered a different style from the romances etc.
I have been interviewing a number of storytellers as to length of performance and how far their performances are informed by historical evidence, but so far haven't found anyone who has based their work on anything medieval. I have, however, found lots of people who happily refer to troubadours and minstrels as if they were interchangeable terms, and people who assume that contemporary songwriters are the same as bards and troubadours, and people who assume that troubadours and minstrels carried news around the country and all sorts of happy misconceptions. Sometimes movies and tv programmes have a lot to be responsible for!
Also in terms of length of performance (for long stories) the stamina of the reader/teller has to be taken into account with the attention span of the audience ...and the opportunity in general life to sit still for a number of hours without having to worry about tasks and food, lighting and other practical considerations.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stower
Date: 01 Sep 18 - 05:46 AM

Anne, I realised as soon as I pressed send on my post above that you were referring to medieval non-musical story-telling and my link was to the performance of stories-in-song - so related, but not specifically what you're after. I'm very probably asking the obvious here, but I wonder if adept and long-time stroy-tellers such as Hugh Lupton, Taffy Thomas, Debs Newbold, etc. have looked into this.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie
Date: 30 Aug 18 - 04:18 PM

If anyone reading this thread has any actual contemporary references to length and method of performance of stories (whether romance, epic, chanson de geste, fabliau or anything else - but stories) in the 11th - 14th centuries in Europe, please let me know. There are references to stories being told at great feasts and in the marketplaces, and some of those references talk of the performers making great use of their voices and their bodies, which is why we can assume that they were acting out the story to a large extent. However we also know that a lot of these performers were reading out loud, rather than working from memory. At great feasts, the performances took place between other events such as food, jousting and other "variety acts" like jugglers and acrobats, so it is unlikely that the audience would have been sitting still for as much as 3 hours for one story. The tale I'm working on, written at the court of Aragon in Occitan in the early 13th century, is 11000 lines long and according to one study of the piece could have taken around 10 hours to tell in its entirety. Which is why I doubt if it ever was performed as one piece from start to finish. There are also references to books being read in instalments over a period of days, which seems more likely. I haven't found any references to readers or tellers also playing instruments at the same time, however - there are lists of stories, and lists of instruments and tunes, but not combined. And a further complication is that the verbs to say and to sing are, at times, interchangeable, which makes the detective work even more difficult.
But, as I said, if you can point me at actual references to any further information I'd be really grateful.
Ian, I'll certainly let you know when I have a full-length rendition ready.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stower
Date: 30 Aug 18 - 02:33 PM

Jack, I could give you a long list of medieval secular songs in modes with reciting notes (as well as ones that don't - there is no one size fits all), but I'll just give one as a prime example: Douce Dame Jolie - dorian with reciting note at the fifth, transposed up a fourth in the ms.

I'm not sure what Cait Webb's point is. Could you point me to the page? What you suggest she suggests is impossible is perfectly possible on harp, gittern, oud, lute, koboz and citole - my medieval instruments. I'm sure Cait was drawing attention to something, but as stated here I can't see what that is.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Aug 18 - 03:42 AM

Mode is not octave species. What secular mediæval songs use a reciting tone?

Cait Webb once pointed out on her blog that for many instrumentalists Mode I (later "dorian") just didn't fit, despite being by far the commonest one - the range of many instruments bottomed out at the tonic so the standard final cadential pattern, passing through the subtonic, was physically impossible. The result must have sounded to a contemporary ear as odd as Highland pipes trying to play a normal tonal melody.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Stower
Date: 29 Aug 18 - 07:21 PM

Jack, Anne and Tootler - you've hit upon something important in the question of performance length. How long a song is depends to a large extent on the genre - there are plenty of medieval songs as short as a modern pop song but, yes, there are also epics - and Tootler, the evidence suggests the musical performer, often solo, was the actor, as there are numerous comments about their enchanting performance weaving a spell on the audience. There is some evidence on performance practice in terms of length, which I address in this article under the heading, "Preludes, the length of songs, and postludes". It's as well to remember that this music dates from the days before widespread writing culture and TV, so the drama of story was largely a face to face performance. So how long does a dramatic narrative take to tell? It takes from the beginning to the end. In the example I give, Horn was performing a lai, with a prelude and a postlude. That is likely to have taken 20-30 minutes.

Anne, I'd be a willing volunteer to hear your story from start to finish.

The Sandman, I play in unequal temperaments a lot, and I never notice that I or an audience have to make any auditory adjustments.

Donuel, I outline the medieval modes in this article, under the heading "Medieval modes ". Jack, the medieval modal system certainly was relevant for secular music. A great deal of secular music follows the modes exactly, though not all of it does, and the music that doesn't was what Jerome of Moravia called "irregular".

Some bloke - if you have any evidence at all about medieval tempo I'd really like to see it. I don't know of any. The baroque is different - we have evidence for that.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Aug 18 - 06:56 PM

Some mediæval stories are a mixture of prose and verse that you can easily imagine working in performance - the Irish story of Mad Sweeney is one. And many mediæval songs work on a modern timescale, like the Carmina Burana lyrics. But the British seem to have gone in for massive slabs of uninterrupted verse, like Graysteil or the Robin Hood ballads. We do know Robin Hood was presented as a drama but we don't know how.

Spanish romances are as prolix as Robin Hood, I think. I've never heard one performed.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Aug 18 - 06:43 PM

Just a thought.

People today seem perfectly capable of watching a movie of up 3 hours if the story is sufficently compelling. Of course movies have visuals to help them along but I'm sure a competent mdieval story teller could have kept an audience engaged for a substantial preiod of time. My guess is they would have essentially have been actors who would dramatise the story to sustain audience attention.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Aug 18 - 10:40 AM

Gardiner is a Baroque specialist and his ideas on that are pretty mainstream. He's never touched mediaeval music, which has different issues.

One place where we can say something definite is in music written for specific spaces, like Notre Dame in Paris with its enormous resonance. You can't do that repertoire too fast or it would just dissolve into a Ligeti-like blur.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 29 Aug 18 - 10:11 AM

I'm with John Eliot Gardner. He reckons that tempos were generally much faster than now, even for the same music. His interpretations of baroque music being a good example.


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Subject: RE: Playing medieval music medievally
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Aug 18 - 08:15 AM

The intonation system is only relevant for a small amount of mediaeval music, e.g. stuff performed with a harp or organ where Pythagorean intonation was natural. It made more difference later on - Renaissance and early Baroque music really does need meantone, and it still helps with relatively recent folk songs.

The mediaeval modal system was not very relevant for secular music, and nobody at the time thought it was. It was designed to organize liturgies.


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