Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Upcoming Concert!

We'll be playing our annual concert on Friday May 29th, 7:30 pm at the Unitarian Hall in Cranberry. email kevin dot wilson100 at shaw dot ca for more info!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Video montage of the Broken Consort

Here's a short (30 seconds) video montage of pictures and music showing us in performance, built using animoto.com:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sheet Music for the Broken Consort

I noticed when I looked at the stats for this blog, that a lot of people seem to be searching for sheet music or lyrics. I can't help much with the lyrics part, but I thought I'd tell you about the sheet music we use.

99% of it is created in Noteworthy Composer by Master Stephen or myself. Sometimes we have a facsimile image to work from, sometimes another version on paper, sometimes a MIDI file which can be imported into NWC. Always we end up arranging or rearranging to fit our group of instruments, so what we end up with is "our version". We then print whatever parts we need from NWC. Some we print all parts on one sheet, some in single parts: I like to have a mix so that we all get used to dealing with either situation. I print a score for myself and sometimes play off it so I can fill in whatever part is needed if people are missing. Before we had bass instruments in the group, I used to transpose the bass part into the bottom register of the violin and play that!

I highly recommend Noteworthy Composer for arranging or composing at a very reasonable price. If you use it and you'd like the NWC file of one of the pieces we play (for non-commercial use), I can probably send it to you if you ask.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Broken Consort concert at the Unitarian Hall

On Friday 23rd May the Broken Consort presented a public concert of medieval and renaissance music at the Unitarian Hall in Powell River. Last year in October when we did this, we didn't publicize it at all, and got an audience of about 10 people.

This year we publicized it to death, got 42 people (plus kids), and almost filled the hall. It was pretty scary :)

On the whole, it went well: the audience enjoyed themselves, they learned to sing a round, we fed them yummy desserts at the interval, and we raised a nice chunk of change for the shire.

We also recorded the concert in several different ways. So far I have available MP3s of the music, made on a small digital recorder so they are mono, not stereo, and not "studio quality" - but they do give you some idea of what we play. I've included the audience participation segment, when we got them singing a three part round (audience plus consort plus shire members, about 60 people altogether).

Introduction: Come Follow Me (we entered the back of the hall one by one, playing this round as we came, and made a procession to our seats at the front).

Tant que vivrai en aage florisant
”While I live in a wonderful time.” A Parisian Chanson from the 1520s composed by Claudin de Sermisy for a poem by Clement Marot.

Adieu ces bons vins de Lannoys
”Farewell to these fine wines of Laon.” A 15th century chanson by Guillaume Dufay, written in 1526 when he was leaving France to work in Italy.

Two lute solos performed by Lady Ambrosine
Wilson’s wilde
A popular ballad tune in the Elizabethan period. This version for lute is from the Folger manuscript, written about 1610.
Branle de Poitou
The branle was a popular French dance in the late 16th century. This one first appeared in a lute instruction book in 1568.

Huzzah to the newly minted Lady Ambrosine, who received her AOA at the concert!

Edi beo thu hevene quene
”Blessed art Thou, Heaven’s Queen.” An anonymous hymn in Middle English to Mary, from the late 13th century. Played as a double duet on four tenor recorders.

Carmen in sol
”Song in G.” This anonymous piece is typical of the songs without words that were popular in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

Bacco, Bacco
”Bacchus, Bacchus.” - Mattio Rampollini - Music for the closing scene, a dance of bacchantes and satyrs to instrumental music, from the entertainment for the marriage of Cosimo de Medici in 1539. These entertainments were a precursor of both opera and ballet.

All in a garden green
A Popular ballad tune and later an English Country Dance tune.

Jouyssance vous donneray
”I shall give you joy” A basse-dance tune from Arbeau’s 1589 dance manual. A basse dance was a stately dance.

Come follow me (audience participation version)
A three-part round written by John Hilton in 1652.
”Come follow, follow, follow,
follow, follow, follow me
Whither shall I follow, follow, follow?
Whither shall I follow, follow thee?
To the greenwood, to the greenwood,
to the greenwood, greenwood tree.”

Stella splendens
”Star, that like the sun’s rays,
shines on the mountain”
An anonymous hymn from the 14th century Spanish manuscript Llibre vermeil (Red Book).

Purcello’s Canon
We don’t know where this came from, but we like it anyway!

Pavan “Belle qui tiens”
”Beauty, who hold my soul a captive in your eyes.”
A pavan from Arbeau’s 1589 dance manual. A pavan was a stately dance with simpler steps than a basse dance.

Tourdion “La Magdalena”
A tourdion was a moderately lively dance which usually followed a basse-dance or pavan. This one was first published by Attaignant in 1529 as the afterdance to the basse-dance “La Magdalene. The tune was very popular and it also appears as a popular drinking song.

The Nightingale in Silent Night
An English madrigal by Thomas Bateson, published in 1618
”The Nightingale in silent night,
Doth sing as well as in the light,
To lull loves watchful eyes asleep,
She doth such nightly sonnets keep,
Hey hoe, Sing we with all,
What fortune us so ere befall”

Two songs performed by Master Stephen of Hunmanby
Tempus adest floridum
A student song from the 12th century. You will probably recognize the tune which was later recycled as a Christmas carol.
Quant li rossignol
A 13th century Trouvere song. The English lyrics were written by Master Stephen of Hunmanby.

Mille regretz
A chanson by Josquin des Pres which was a great hit tune in the early 16th century, appearing in a Spanish arrangement for lute titled “Concion del Emperador” because it was the Emperor’s favourite song.
”A thousand regrets to forsake you
And to be far from your loving face
I have such great grief and sorrowful anguish
That one will see me shortly end my days ”

Jouyssance vous donneray
”I shall give you joy.” A Parisian Chanson by Claudin de Sermisy with words by Clement Marot, published by Attaignant in 1529.

Heigh ho holiday
A consort piece by Anthony Holborne, published 1599. There were also versions made for solo lute

Now is the month of Maying
One of the most famous of the English madrigals, by Thomas Morley published in 1595. It is based on a text used by Orazio Vecchi in 1590
”Now is the month of maying,
When merry lads are playing,
Fa la la la la.
Each with his bonny lass,
upon the greeny grass,
Fa la la la la.”

Friday, December 21, 2007

Powell River Art Studio Tour performance

As in previous years, on Aug 25th we played at Alfred Muma's studio for the Art Tour. Since Alfred's part of our group he has a busy time greeting tour guests and playing with us, but he seems to enjoy it :-)

In the picture from L to R: Master Stephen of Hunmanby, Isabella (Ann), Alfred, Thormot and Ambrosine.

Although cloudy and rather windy, at least it didn't rain on us this time and the refreshments (thanks to Galen and Joya) were exxcellent!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Playing in the Rain

On Saturday Aug 11th, the Broken Consort played at the Summer Muse garden concert at Boxwood Cottage here in Powell River. We played last year's Summer Muse too, and enjoyed fine weather and an appreciative audience. This year the audience was just as appreciative, but the weather was.... challenging!

The day itself was grey. When we arrived at the garden and brought our instruments, stands, and other stuff up to the "green room", we realised that the grape arbor being used as the green room had no roof. Just grape leaves. We hadn't noticed this last year, under sunshine, but this year as it began to sprinkle it was brought forcibly to our attention that things were getting wet. Violins and cellos, natural skin drums, and wooden recorders don't like this, not to mention sheet music! Instruments had to stay in their cases till the last minute, a few things got tucked under a metal shelf for protection, and we armed ourselves with clothespins against the wind.

The stage itself was covered by a large nylon parachute. This worked well for keeping the rain off, so we settled ourselves in when our turn came, and started playing. The audience, huddled under umbrellas and with jackets pulled over heads, ignored the wet and gave us their attention. Then.... splash!

Because of its shape, the parachute overhead had a series of dips at the edge, between the guyline attachment points. These dips had been collecting water and they now began to overflow at intervals.

Splash! That was Master Stephen's left leg. Splash! That was my bow hand, and some of the music on the floor in front of me. We huddled closer under the parachute, as far away from the edges as we could get.

Splash! That was my fiddle case. Good thing it was closed.

Things got wetter, and then windier. In spite of multiple clothes pins, my music blew away and I had to switch to following off the part of Lady Cassandra, next to me. The drum skin was damp and made a distinctly muffled sound.

We persevered, right up to the last piece. Several splashing cascades and a wind gust brought us to a just slightly premature end as I cut off the last repeat.

Luckily the next performer was a single individual who could sit right under the middle of the parachute! Being already damp, I sat in the rain to listen to the following performances and enjoyed fiddle music from Kathy, a flute-and-string trio (Ann, Faye and Janet), and Ethnic Junction, a womens vocal and percussion group performing world music from many places.

Then I took everything home and laid it out to dry!

PS: no criticism of our hosts, Anthony and Diana, is intended - the garden was as delightful as always and everything well organised. We just don't expect weather like this in the middle of August!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Making Music in the SCA

I imagine that everyone in the shire of False Isle, visitors from afar, and old friends from Lions Gate, have noticed that I like to play music. In fact, it's hard to get me to shut up :).

I never stop trying to get other people playing, too.

Why is that? Why not do as many SCA groups do, and settle for the Bard-in-a-Box? After all, the BiaB never runs out of things to play, everyone's got one, it never (well, almost never) plays a wrong note or gets off the beat, it doesn't have to stop to eat or sleep, its strings don't break, it doesn't need to empty spit on the floor, the volume is adjustable, and it never gets offended if you talk while it's playing.

A fair number of those advantages actually turn out to be downsides, many involving the setting of unrealistic expectations and assumptions.

* everyone's got one
unrealistic expectation: music should be everywhere, at all times, is background, and can be ignored

* never plays a wrong note or gets out of sync
unrealistic expectation: real people have to play like that too. You shouldn't play music UNLESS you can play perfectly. Intimidating? You bet!

* doesn't have to stop to eat or sleep
unrealistic expectation: real bards can go on for ever too.... (sometimes it just seems that way)

* it doesn't need to empty spit on the floor
I can't think of a downside to this one!

* the volume is adjustable
unrealistic expectation: just turn it up louder if you want. Never mind blasting the people next door out of their chairs, and never consider quieting your own noise and moving closer so you can hear.

* never gets offended if you talk while it's playing
this contributes to noisy, discourteous audiences at times when one really should shut up and listen - bardic contests come to mind.

OK, so let's scrap the BiaB idea. What are the advantages of real people playing real music?

It's fun. If you've ever done it, you know that making your own music is very satisfying. Making it with other people is even better. There's an amazing energy that comes into play when a group of people play together and everything gels. That doesn't mean every note is perfect. It never is, and it doesn't need to be. To work, it just needs to be "good enough" - and that's very achievable.

It brings all types of people together. Not all of us have that social gene that allows us to walk into a group event and blend right in, chatting with everyone. Group music-making is one of those activities which allows you to be as social as you like - or don't like. No need to talk if you're playing. There's enough structure there to keep the introverts happy, and enough exhibitionism for the extroverts to enjoy it too. It's an easy way for new people to get to know others in the shire (or worse, Barony), because they see the same small group frequently, instead of a randomly-changing larger group at irregular intervals. And it's also one of the few activities that young people can join in with, and find themselves outclassing the adults. Where would the Broken Consort be without our multi-talented Ambrosine?

It's period. Lords and ladies would have had musicians available for any major event, and often as part of the household to play frequently. Religious events were built around music. Later in the SCA period, any educated person was expected to at least appreciate music, and preferably to play and/or sing themselves. Elizabethans followed the Queen's lead and made lots of music. Many people have commented on how much live music adds to the atmosphere at our feasts and events.

It's cheap. Singing costs nothing to start. You don't have to buy tools or materials, or find workspace. Even instrumental playing can be started with a cheap plastic recorder from the thrift store. You don't have to have period instruments to make music.

It makes the shire look good. How many other branches even ten times our size have the amount of music happening that we do? Eventually I'd like to take the Broken Consort "on the road" to show off, even if only to May Bardic in Lions Gate, but as Master Stephen has suggested, Kingdom Bardic is not at all out of the question.

For me, though, the main reason is very simple. I play because I love to. The fact that others enjoy it too is icing on the cake.