minstrel: Dynamics and tempo variants

fairfax at mail.tir.com fairfax at mail.tir.com
Sun Feb 6 09:25:59 PST 2000

Hi Ihon,
The information you're looking for is difficult to find.  Assuming you were
performing a sixteenth century broadside ballad, there are two music thesis
which would be helpful to you.  Both of them condemn sudden changes in tempo and
dynamics.  However, they condemn them as being hackneyed, and they're directed
towards academic musicians (who weren't the main audience for broadside
It seems that people did not change their voices to assume different characters
until well into the seventeenth century, however, modern (SCA too) listeners may
become confused or bored without this practice.
There are some tips for singing 16th century stuff in...Timothy Mc
Gee...Medieval and Renaissance music.
I've read (and I'm not bragging, it's just the shameful truth) just about all
there is to read about broadsides and I've never seen any solid proof of any
16th century performance practice.
If you want my personal, informed opinion(I've taken grad level classes on
period music and performance practice), I would suggest you use natural
crescendo and decrescendo.  I would avoid excessive tempi changes, but it's not
a grave sin if you do.  It's ok to do these things if you HAVE A REASON.  :)
That's about all the information I can give you at the moment.  I'm right in the
middle of researching German Leider in the 19th century and I've got a bunch of
work left to do.  I wanna go home!

Constance Fairfax

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