minstrel: Beginner questions about XIVth century France

Vanessa Layne dagoura at MIT.EDU
Mon Mar 27 14:20:55 PST 2000

Matheus de Troyes writes:

> Lacking any other starting point, I have set myself the goal of
> learning to play a single dance piece on a recorder.

Yay!  Welcome to the brotherhood :)

> Could anyone:
> 1)  recommend a brand/model of recorder

Get a Yamaha plastic instrument to start on.  If you mean to play for
dancers, get a soprano (US$8.50, hearabouts).  If you mean only to
play for entertainment, get an alto (~US$20).  The alto is sweeter in
novice hands, but does not carry at all as well as a soprano which is
therefore superior for dance.

If you have a little extra cash and intend to get a soprano, you might
instead opt for the Moeck plastic instrument which has a "Renaissance"
silhouette.  It think they're ~US$20.

> 2) a piece of music to work upon

For soprano: Bransle de Chevaux ("Horse's Bransle").  Arbeau,
_Orchesography_, 1589.

If you can only play one piece of dance music, this should probably be
it.  It's wildly popular -- you can play it forever without the
dancers getting bored.  It is long enough to be a "piece" without
repeating, and yet is not too long for a beginner.  It will require
you to learn a big bunch of the really important notes (including
B-flats); a bit more work than, say, Hermit's Bransle, but *MUCH* more
satisfying and useful.  And insanely catchy.

And once you've learned it, the other bransles should be a piece of cake.

For alto: Bransle Cassandra. Arbeau, _Orchesography_, 1589.  Not as
useful for dance (very boring dance, not terribly popular with the
dancers), but pretty tune well suited to the alto.

> 3) any suggestions on how I should go about teaching myself to play

A bunch.  The first, though, would be to go get a copy of "The
Recorder Book" by Ken Wollitz, though it suposes an alto.

Are you going to start with soprano or alto?

-- Tibicen (19 years (!) a recorder player, 10 years a dance musician)
   tibicen at carolingia.org

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