minstrel: Period music and dulcimer

Kate/Constance fairfax at tir.com
Sat Apr 15 14:01:04 PDT 2000

> Ahh, we all hate period nazis, even us who are
> authentically-oriented.  But
> they proliferate, and make everyone unhappy when they condescendingly say,
> "That's not period."  They don't even help us be more period.
You are doing a great disservice to other people who strive to learn, and to
people who are devoted to authenticity.  While you may have had bad
experiences with someone you label as an "Authenticity Nazi (a horribly bad
label which I wish would be obliterated from the SCA vocabulary.  This term
mocks the horrors of the holocaust while giving the individuals you're
describing an "evil" hue.  Inquisitors would be just as bad a term, but
would at least be "period".  I'd much rather you just describe them as "rude
people"!), certainly not all people who are authenticity minded are rude or
mean, or say, "That's not period" in a condescending way.

> I recently
> asked someone if Purcell's rounds from "The Art of the Bawdy
> Song" would be period enough.  And they said, "Purcell is 1680's.  Period
> 1600.  You do the math."
I'm going to assume since you've said that you're authenticity minded that
you looked at the docs on the back of the CD...right next to track 3 it says
"Purcell 1659-1695".  So, obviously, these songs are out of period.  You can
sing them anyway, there's nobody who's going to stop you.
Why, knowing that these songs are 80 years too old, would you ask someone if
they were "period enough"?  Period enough for whom?  Obviously, you wanted
to know if they were "Period enough" for the person you were asking.  So,
you're mad at the person you asked because they were frank with you...
Surely, you boxed this person into a corner, where they were forced to
either stand their ground and say, "No, that's not period" or "Sure, it's OK
to sing out of period music."  Either way, they're going to be "branded" by
someone as either an Authenticity Nazi or an authentician who promotes out
of period music.  This response you've quoted was one of the best I've
heard, actually.  He didn't tell you what to do, he left the issue up to
your better judgement.

Now, you could have said something like, "I know these were written after
1600, but I like the way they sound.  Are they close enough to period style
that it wouldn't bother you if I sang them at an event?  If not, can you
please explain why they're different?"

> And they walked off. They didn't suggest any
> "period"
Well, if I felt boxed in, I'd walk away too.  Maybe the person felt you were
pushing them.  Maybe they were busy.  Maybe they were just a jerk.  Maybe
they weren't someone who knew a bunch of sources for vocal music.  I can be
really abrupt when people ask me for my opinion, but I always tell the
truth, and they always come back for more.

> (which is much softer in music than anything else) sources
There are only 2 extant period corsets in the world (well, really maybe only
one, the other was made before 1603)...music is an abundantly documented
field.  These things have to be dug up and dusted off and resurrected.

for bawdy rounds (my specialty) or even redirect my attentions to period
ballads or
> madrigals.
There are tons of resources on the web and at university libraries.  That's
when you're going to find information, not when you're at an event.

> I have a recording of a Hackbrett used to play
> dance tunes from Praetorius' Terpsichore.  It sounded a little
> less in tune and seemed to 'ring'
> less than the modern one, so you might want to tune the strings
> really good, then knock one or two out a tiny bit to be truly period.
I haven't heard this recording, but I'm pretty sure by your description that
it's not out of tune but it's in a different temperament(your liner notes
may confirm this).  The well-temperament of the 18th and early 19th
centuries and the mean-tone-temperament of early music are quite different
than today's even-temperament and sound "out of tune" and don't "ring" as
much as even-temperament.  If you're going to Pennsic I can show you how to
tune this way.

> But that's too anal even for me, and makes some people cringe.
It's not anal, it's authentic performance practice.  Some period food makes
me gag, so should every feastocrat serve chicken nuggets and fries?  Nope.

> But you can tell those period nazis to shove it if they get on to you
about your
> Hackbrett.
I don't ever "get on" people about authenticity or lack thereof, but when
I'm the recipient of unsolicited advice, I say "Thank you" and think about
it for a while.  Sometimes I even follow the advice.

I don't know where you live but on May 20 I'm holding a symposium on period
music which you might enjoy.

Constance Fairfax

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