Authenticity, sources

Dave & Laura McKinstry dalm at
Wed Sep 13 04:46:00 PDT 1995

>M'lady Lark also said something I found somewhat surprising:
>>  I am trying to get some good period music together, but there are problems;
>>  the idea of writing music down didn't evolve THAT long before 1600 (okay, I
>>  think a one-line method with spacing used for note lenght was around in 1000
>>  or so, but it took a few centuries to become accurately representative of
>>  the melody), and once it did exist, it wasn't commonly used.  The music that
>>  did exist, therefor, was not recorded, except hymns and madrigals, since the
>>  church was quite fanatical about record keeping.  We don't wish to do
>>  christian music, so that leaves us in a quandary; how does one find enough
>>  folk-music of the era to find a decent reprortoire of what one likes?  I
>>  believe a serious attempt at recreation of these tunes should not be
>>  rebuffed.  Perhaps music is an exeption to the SCA rule that things must be
>>  documented.
>There's a lot more documentalbe music from before 1600 than you think,
>and it's not all "hymns and madrigals" either.
>Which leads me to my last question: what are your favorite sources for
>pieces? I've heard quite a few people mention Ravenscroft. Just about
>every dance musician I know has a copy of Timothy McGee's
>_Medieval_Instrumental_Dances_. Where do you find good music?
>-Godith Anyon
>rvoris at

I stand corrected, and I thank you.  I think I suffer from impatience here;
perhaps it's not that the music is not out there, but that it is difficult
to find, and after spending many hours in my local lbraries and across the
internet, looking for tidbits that refuse to come to my hand, I have become

Given a choice, I will almost always perform period, and once I'm good
enough to get folk gigs in town, I'll ALWAYS perform period at SCA (once I
have my hands on the music.) I'm simply driven to play, I can't NOT play,
and until my hands know better tunes, I have little choice but to play
what's in them.

As for sources, I just found one for the "Play by ear" type - it's a CD put
out by "Tha Baltimore Consort" - _On_THe_Banks_of_Helicon_ (Early Music of
Scotland) and the liner notes are QUITE extensive, while the dates are
written on the revers, along with the title and track of each song.  8 of
them clearly place themselves in extended period (pre-1650), 6 of those are
non-extended period (before 1600).  5 have no date, and 8 are just beyond
period. Sticking with extended period, I've found several that I would
really enjoy playing, including a female-voice duet called "My heartly
Service" (1562-1592) that I would love to start as written, then alter the
words (words only, keep the melody the same) into some period humor (is
women harping about the manner in which men behave period? OVer their
sewing, in a skit?  If so, should men play the parts, or should we at least
LOOK like men playing women?)  This would take some skill to pull off, but
it's hard to pass up.

As for other period music, I'm afraid I'm having a difficult time getting my
hands on "Medieval to Modern" by Lyon & Healy.  I suspect that less than a
quarter of it is medieval, and then only melody, and the arrangements may or
may not be medieval, but it would help if I could at least see it.  My
problem is that I live in Daytona Beach.  We have a race track.  We have
bikers in the spring.  That's the extent of our culture.  Our libraries are
underfunded and unattended, we have no Universities in town, though Stetson
isn't too far - I've ransacked their stores and found "Ancient Irish music"
btu the years refernces are, egocentrically enough, the year the man wrote
them down in, not the years they date back to.  It was done in the 1800s, so
I don't know whether any of the music is period, and it's strictly melodies.
There are 100 melodies in there, though, and if I find reference to them
elsewhere that place them in time, I gues I'm relatively safe.  FOr anyone
interested, it's collected & edited by P.W. Joyce, LL.D., M.R.I.A.

I have a new tangent here; I keep hearing about Dorian and Lydian
scale/mode; what scales were used in period, and how are they defined (Where
are the half-steps?) That would help us keep things in period.  Rhythms are
also important, as is instrumentation and accompaniment.

I find it easier to pick up music after having heard it, or by having it
recommended, as going through a book of 100 songs and attempting to make out
the melody by sight drives me nuts, though I suppose I really should push
myself to do it, at least on the viola, for which I'd have to transpose, but
on which I can sight read faster than on any other of my instruments. At
least to get the melody down.  NAturally, my viola is only NEARLY period, as
it is the Stradivarius design rather than the boxier shape they used then.
But I can't afford to put a bunch of money in another, so I suppose, once I
get the harp going well, I'll add my strad viola to our little band.  Unless
I win the lottery by then. This is FLorida...

-Lark, searching constantly for more music.

More information about the minstrel mailing list