Saturday, September 11, 2010

Instruments of the Renaissance and Middle Ages

Today's selection is another by the Early Music Consort with David Munrow. tracks In my research I found out that the tape was an result of a book  book  that Mr. Munrow had written and there was also a television program that he did on the same subject.  A portion of the program I hopefully added to the blog.(It's the first time trying to embed a video)   In the video you see David Munrow as a fairly young man blowing his shawm and looking like a rock star while his back up group look like bored professors, which they probably were.  You can tell Mr. Munrow has so much passion in the subject matter and it is sad that he burned out so soon.  The program apparently was recorded in Salford, a part of Manchester England. 
I love medieval and renaissance music.  It was a lot of beat to it and melody comes out of it.  The first piece is a Salterello which was a dance and the pace the music was played it was so fast I can't imagine having to keep up with the pace. Hopefully the demonstration video also got posted.   The Panpipes sound wonderful to me so ethereal and melodic. 

There is a piece composed by Thibaut Of Navarre who apparently was a nobleman of Navarre and became king of Navarre in North Central France and was a troubadour as a young man. The term trouvere refers to poet-composers who were roughly contemporary with and influenced by the troubadours but who composed their works in the northern dialects of France. According to wikipedia, the word trouvère comes from the Old French trouvere, from the Provençal word trobaire, meaning 'to find or invent (rhetorically)  The first known trouvère was Chrétien de Troyes (fl. 1160s-80s) (who also wrote the legend of Parsifal) and the trouvères continued to flourish until about 1300. Some 2130 trouvère poems have survived; of these, at least two-thirds have melodies. The popular image of the troubadour or trouvère is that of the itinerant musician wandering from town to town, lute on his back. Such people existed, but they were called jongleurs and minstrels — poor musicians, male and female, on the fringes of society. The troubadours and trouvères, on the other hand, represent aristocratic music making. They were either poets and composers who were supported by the aristocracy or, just as often, were aristocrats themselves, for whom the creation and performance of music was part of the courtly tradition. Among their number we can count kings, queens, and countesses. The texts of these songs are a natural reflection of the society that created them. They often revolve around idealized treatments of courtly love ("fine amors" and religious devotion, although many can be found that take a more frankly earthy look at love.

Another piece that is lovely is one played on an ocarina called Quan Je Voi Iver Retorner composed by another trouvere Colin Muset.who earned his living in Champagne travelling from castle to castle and singing his own songs and accompanying himself on a vielle which is a bowed string instrument.  Another instrument that fascinates me is the Hurdy Gurdy. According to wikipedia, The hurdy gurdy or hurdy-gurdy (also known as a wheel fiddle) is a stringed musical instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to a violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents (small wedges, usually made of wood) against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Like most other acoustic string instruments, it has a soundboard to make the vibration of the strings audible.

Another instrument of interest is the Cittern which appears to be an instrument that was an instrument of casual use much like the guitar of today. cittern  Ir was a metal stringed instrument. 
The second side of the tape is devoted to Renaissance Music.  Just listening to the dance music is so joyful that i would have loved to have lived during that time.   The music is so melodic and the harmony divine.   An example of this is described on the following blog entry.  dance
Another instrument of note was a regal.  According to wikipedia, "The regal was a small portable organ, furnished with beating reeds and having two bellows. The instrument enjoyed its greatest popularity during the Renaissance. The name was also sometimes given to the reed stops of a pipe organ, and more especially the vox humana stop.  The sound of the regal was produced by brass reeds held in resonators. The length of the vibrating portion of the reed determined its pitch and was regulated by means of a wire passing through the socket, the other end pressing on the reed at the proper distance. The resonators in the regal were not intended to reinforce the vibrations of the beating reed or of its overtones (as in the reed pipes of the organ), but merely to form an attachment to keep the reed in place without interfering with its function. A common compass was C/E--c′′′ (four octaves, with a short octave in the bass), though this was by no means standardized. Most regals were placed on a table to be played, and required two people -- one to play the instrument, and another to pump the bellows."

Another of my favorite instruments is a harpsichord.  Again according to wikipedia, In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard. In a broader sense, "harpsichord" designates the whole family of similar plucked keyboard instruments, including the smaller virginals, muselar, and spinet. The harpsichord was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque music. During the late 18th century it gradually disappeared from the musical scene with the rise of the piano. But in the 20th century it made a resurgence, used in historically informed performance of older music, in new (contemporary) compositions, and in popular culture.

Aah Monterverdi.  One of my favorite composers.  I used to sing in a choir that sung some Monteverdi. what a delight is his melody and harmonies.  Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi (Italian pronunciation: ['klaudjo mõnte'verdi]; 15 May 1567 (baptized) – 29 November 1643) was an Italian composer, gambist, and singer.
Monteverdi's work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition: the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque and the heritage of Renaissance polyphony. Enjoying fame in his lifetime, he wrote one of the earliest operas, L'Orfeo, which is still regularly performed. His madrigals were just wonderful to sing.  Monteverdi Bio

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