FW: minstrel: Period music and dulcimer

Christopher Gregory krummhorn at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 15 21:16:01 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 am authenticity minded.  I use the term "authenticity nazi" to describe
the people who are mean and violent about lack of authenticity without
providing ways to fix it.  It is not a mocking of the Holocaust, it is an
homage to Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, who was mean and violent about his soup.
They make those of us who try to be more period and work very hard at
helping others become more period look like inconsiderate fun-busters.  I
have told people that what they do is not period.  But I try to help them,
just as you do.  I say, "You can do so-and-so to make this period."  There
are some things that make me cringe, like the Agincourt Carol sung to the
Banana Boat Song.  But I try teaching the original, and people like that
because I'm helping them be more period
>> 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
> ends
>> 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?"
I didn't know the person, I was asking someone who was near me.  I asked
several other people, who then asked me, "Does it sound period?"  Of course,
these pieces sound pretty period, since they were rounds that were collected
at pubs by Purcell.  But the first person didn't ask if it sounded period.
he assumed that I was trying to get away with some folk music in his perfect
period event, and stopped at that.  I love period music, and I try to sing
it whenever possible, but these pieces were learned before I knew I would
like the SCA, and so they are part of my repitoire.  Since I try to be as
period as possible, I wanted some opinions on if they were not glaringly out
of period, and the second person helped me with that.  The first merely
assumed that 1680 was OOP, and was therefore I was stupid and OOP.

>> 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.
I hadn't boxed them in.  They were standing there, and I asked.  I thought
that if I asked a question I would look like I wanted to learn.  But to this
guy I guess I came across as a fool or a sneak.  I have heard Gregory Blount
say that judgment is a factor in determining periodicity in music, and I
trust his opinion.  But I would never go back to the Authenticity Nazi,
because he was not helpful.  I knew that 1600 was end of period, and that
1680 was OOP.  He assumed I didn't.  And "You do the math" is condescending,
not informative.  Please, please, please be helpful and not angry when
somebody asks you for assistance.  It would be like telling somebody they
were driving the wrong way, then walking away when they asks you how to get
to a museum.
>> (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.
Yep, but in all my research, I couldn't find any extant bawdy rounds.
Anybody know of any sources?
>> 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.
Events are learning experiences.  You can learn to fight, you can learn
songs at a bardic circle, you can learn in classes.  Information is
learning, and you get that at events, sometimes in better packages, just
like at the library or on the web.
>> 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.
No, the Hackbrett sounded like the individual strings of the courses were
slightly (and I mean really slightly) out of tune with eachother.  If you
listen to the piece, by Editions De Loiseau-Lyre, and performed by Phillip
Picket and the New London Consort, you can tell.  The temperment could have
been different, but this Hackbrett was tuned the same as the rest of the
consort, so the temperment was uniform over the whole group.  But it had
more of a honkey-tonk sound than the average modern dulcimer.
>> 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.
By too anal for me, I mean that I am really anal, but it seems that it would
be easier to get a period instrument than to do that.  To tune everything,
then retune everything so that it sounds almost in tune is twice the work
for something only neccesary for a recording or 50$-per-ticket public
performance.  And the cringing was due to the deliberate mis-tuning, which
hurts some people with perfect pitch, and annoys others who are used to
modern instruments with perfect tuning.
>> 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.
But if someone walks up to you and says, "I hated this performace because
your dulcimer isn't period," then walks off, that is impolite.  You say,
"You could do so-and-so and make that look much more period."

I have at times done things which seemed to me inconsiderate in hindsight.
But when a fun mavin (per the KWH article) asks for advice on being more
period, you should always answer with the best information you can provide.
Sometimes I get that magic feeling of "Being There" at an event, and
something glaringly OOP knocks me out of it.  And one way to prevent that
happening to us is to offer ways to be period when asked.  NEVER just say
that it's out of period and end with that.  And don't just walk up to
someone, should "OOP!" and run, because they'll be less inclined to be in
period and join the ranks of the percieved Authenticity Freaks.

I guess I should have been clearer in my post to begin with, because lately,
I tend to stick my foot in my mouth.  This is a good example; I came across
as a fun mavin, when I am an authenticity mavin.  Misunderstandings happen,
more to me than anyone else!

Oh well,

Thank you most verily,
Richard Crowder of Burnham,
Musician ET Gentleman,
Though they may conflict.

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