Here’s a bit of an update on my life as an early music enthusiast.
Another Pennsic came and went. I gave a class on the madrigal, Since Robin Hood, by Thomas Weelkes. Aaron gave a class on Renaissance Instruments. We went to lots of dance classes and played music for the ball. Here’s a video of us dancing Chelsey Reach, a Playford English Country Dance. Aaron and I are the couple in Red on the right side of the square.
Last school year I was in the University of Michigan’s School of Music Early Music Chorus. Our director, Edward Parmentier, is very good, and even though I’m graduated now (Yay!), I hope I’ll be able to perform in it again next year.
I’m also in a quintet that sings primarily late 16th century early 17th century music.
I’m still directing Cyngabar on Thursdays. I’m no longer sure what direction the group should go in. Over the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about what our purpose as a group is, and hopefully then I’ll get some idea of what to do.
In the renaissance band, I’ve picked up playing the harpsichord, meaning, I mostly play a rhythm part. I’ve also been steadily improving on the recorder.
Aaron and I have started recording dance tunes. We’ve been getting asked to do so for months now, and we’re finally getting around to it. I’m looking forward to posting some of the pieces on here in the near future.
Oh and speaking of dance tunes, Aaron choreographed a bransle called the “Procrastinator’s Bransle” for an event called the Procrastinator’s Brawl and Ball.
Our band is playing the music. Aaron’s the mandolin (or cittern, I can’t tell which) and I’m playing the soprano recorder.
So yes, in spite of my like of updating this blog I’ve been quite busy with early music endeavors. I do intend to update a little more frequently now, though. Life may be hectic, but this is a worthwhile project.
Consider this a “whet your appetite” type of article on ballads. At some point later when I’ve done more research I’ll write a series describing what makes a song a ballad, and the wonders that they are. For now here’s a bit of what I’ve found so far:
Greg Lindahl’s site on 16th century ballads, is an excellent place to get started. There’s a lot of information there on both the history of ballads and on where to find them and what’s within SCA period. I especially enjoyed the reprint of the article from the Complete Anachronist. It gave me a lot to think about.
If you like making your own transcriptions or want to see what year the English songs you’ve been singing date back to, Early English Books Online is a great place to check. Many university libraries have contracts with EEBO, so if you have an account with your local college library there’s a good chance you’ll have access. I’ve been accessing it through my University of Michigan account. If you’ve seen the choral transcriptions I’ve posted, for severalof the songs a facsimile can be found on EEBO. (Now I’m just waiting for the equivalent for other countries/languages.) I know of at least one book of ballads in there.
The Child Ballads are of course another excellent source for ballads. However, they only include lyrics (no melody line, and no chords), so it’ll require a bit of work on your part to find a tune to go with them. Also many of them are from the 18th or 19th century, which is usually too late for Early Music groups.
Another collection of fun ballads dating to 1682 is D’Urfey’s Pills to Purge Melancholy. It’s a bit on the late side, and hard to find outside of EEBO, but if you do have EEBO access they’re certainly worth considering. To get a taste, listen to a Hesperus’s My Thing is My Own.
So there’s some info to get you started. For performance ideas, check out the article I wrote earlier on performing solo singing music with instruments. Like I said earlier, after I’ve done some more research I’ll post a more in depth series on ballads. ‘Til then, enjoy!