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Author Topic: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon  (Read 699 times)

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Christinemaenad

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Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« on: August 02, 2017, 12:56:48 PM »

Hi, Does anyone play medieval/early music on a melodeon?
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Steve C.

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2017, 01:14:56 PM »

Playford tunes are very common, but I think you mean even earlier...
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Christinemaenad

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2017, 01:23:10 PM »

You're right, I probably do.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2017, 01:26:58 PM »

Do you have any examples of the sort of music you mean?
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Christinemaenad

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2017, 01:34:46 PM »

not really. sorry.
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Mike Mccarthy

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2017, 02:05:03 PM »

I'm a long way from an expert on the subject (or any subject for that matter) but I recall seeing Katherine Tickell talking once about early northumbrian pipes and how they were diatonic, thus presumably early pipe music would only be in a handful of keys. Furthermore, don't know if you're aware of a TV series from 2005 called Tales From the Green Valley. The premise of the show was to show what farming life would've been like in days gone by (in this instance they chose a period just after the civil war). In one of the episodes they had an expert in early music (whose name escapes me, but I can find out easily enough) playing for them, and he talked about bagpipes being one of the main instruments of the time. Not sure if this is what you meant by early music, nor if it helps, but I would imagine all these tunes would be easily playable on the box, it's just notes.
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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 02:11:14 PM »

Maybe we're talking about Dave Kettlewell here, but Ive not heard anything about him for years.
 I know he was into medieval music. He lent me a Shaum (sp) and that played with melodions for Morris really took you back to the Middle Ages.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 02:16:31 PM by Nick Collis Bird »
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Christinemaenad

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2017, 02:15:16 PM »

He died in 2011 I've just looked him up.
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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2017, 02:18:59 PM »

Oh dear, sorry to hear that, he was a great friend in the early days. Oh! Yet another one gone.
  By the way, he taught me to read and sing Gregorian chant, which I can still do.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 02:35:47 PM by Nick Collis Bird »
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GPS

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2017, 02:45:46 PM »

I'm guessing you're thinking of the kind of thing played by David Munrow and The Early Music Consort back in the 70s (was it REALLY that long ago??), in which case I can't  think of anyone doing anything similar. In fact it's not easy to see how that kind of music would sit on a melodeon. However, I'm all for giving something a fair crack of the whip, and it would be interesting to try some of the more accessible bits. The Agincourt Carol might be a good starting point.  Also some of the dancing master tunes actually considerably predate the "golden age" of dance music publishing - Sellenger's Round, for instance, is to a much earlier tune called The Beginning of the World, and I'm sure there are other mediaeval bits & pieces nestling among Playford's and other publishers' pages.

Graham
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Theo

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2017, 03:03:12 PM »

You could have a look at the material that the Emily Askew band is doing.   No box players in the band but Emily's sister Hazel is a box player so there might be some early stuff they have tried out together.

You might also find something you could use in one of the abc collections here
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Julian S

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2017, 03:52:00 PM »

I certainly recommend the Munrow recording of Susato's 12 dances from the 'Danserye' - dates from 1551. Well known pieces include La Mourisque (which I often play after Bagpipers) and Pavane La Bataille - I haven't perfected the latter on d/g as yet but always reckoned it would fit well. Melodeon consort maybe !

J
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Howard Mitchell-Borts (Mitch)

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2017, 04:03:31 PM »

There are workshops by Andy Richards and Terry Man at Sidmouth this year on Playing for Early Dance.
The music is published at https://eglamore.wordpress.com/sidmouth-2017-music/.

If time allows I may go along.

Mitch
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Lester

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2017, 04:06:34 PM »

There are various brandles (brawls) including Horses Brandle )common in the English session world) and the Official Brandle (Ding Dong Merrily on High. Both tunes from Arbeau's Orchésographie a study of late sixteenth-century French Renaissance social dance.
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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2017, 11:44:51 PM »

Late 16th Century - yes, Lester - I think that's about the late borderline for "Early Music". Anything after that tends to be in the Playford era.
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Jack Campin

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2017, 01:10:53 AM »

There is one definitive collection of mediaeval dance music, Timothy McGee's Medieval Instrumental Dances:

http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?products_id=63443

It's a fabulous book, but tends toward extreme speed and elaborate ornamentation which is really only possible on strings or woodwinds.  This is one of the most inspired performances I've heard of a piece from that book - he's doing it pretty near completely straight, though the presentation makes that rather unobvious:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxMTYlxadZU

Most mediaeval music is vocal.  The Cantigas de Santa Maria would probably work well with a melodeon doing the instrumental bits:

http://www.gaita.co.uk/publications.html

(Yeah, it's expensive but it's good.  Disclaimer: I know the editor and have played with him quite often).  The illustrations in the original manuscript depict every instrument of the time, you can bet they'd have used a melodeon if they'd had one.

We do know of some mediaeval melodeon players, sort of.  The portative organ had similar capabilities, except it's unisonoric - maybe the Caucasian garmon would be the nearest free-reed.

Illustrated page about it, in Italian: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organo_portativo

Stunningly sexy demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrMhTIUZXvU

Score for that (good luck!): http://imslp.org/wiki/Squarcialupi_Codex_%28Various%29

The most celebrated player it ever had was Francesco Landini: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Landini

who seems to have been mind-bogglingly good on it, and could sing to his own accompaniment (the two parts often being quite rhythmically independent).

Here is one of his 2-part songs:
http://imslp.org/wiki/Ecco_la_primavera_%28Landini%2C_Francesco%29

I can't find a YouTube performance done the way he might have done it himself, but this one has guts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HixQGLrLIBY

This guy is probably the world's leading virtuoso on Landini's instrument: http://www.christophedeslignes.com/ .  He has a lot of YouTube videos, and his triple CD is an ear-opener.

Renaissance dance music (of which there are far more collections available) tends to be rhythmically simpler, more available in competent editions free on the web, and should work better on the melodeon.  Try Susato for starters.

The Italian organetto player Riccardo Tesi has played a fair bit of early music, e.g. on this wonderful CD:
http://www.folkbulletin.com/musica-officinalis-"rosa-bianca-e-vermiglia"/
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 12:47:27 PM by Jack Campin »
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2017, 08:40:20 AM »

Thank you Jack. Some fascinating music.
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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2017, 09:10:47 AM »

Thinking about this topic, it occurs to me to wonder if part of the possible difficulty of interpreting early music on a melodeon might be to do with the instrument's dynamics.  First of all I thought maybe it would sound "better" if a single reed were in play rather than a pair or more, then it struck me that a lot of  Mediaeval and Renaissance instruments seem to have a fairly soft attack (maybe given the exceptions of shawms and racketts), which is well-nigh impossible to achieve on a melodeon because of the way it works. Just a thought.........I'm happy to be proved wrong!

Graham
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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2017, 10:27:17 AM »

Thinking about this topic, it occurs to me to wonder if part of the possible difficulty of interpreting early music on a melodeon might be to do with the instrument's dynamics.  First of all I thought maybe it would sound "better" if a single reed were in play rather than a pair or more, then it struck me that a lot of  Mediaeval and Renaissance instruments seem to have a fairly soft attack (maybe given the exceptions of shawms and racketts), which is well-nigh impossible to achieve on a melodeon because of the way it works. Just a thought.........I'm happy to be proved wrong!

Graham

In his book "The Art of Bayan Playing" Friedrich Lips devotes many pages to the description of note articulation. Careful combination of key presses and bellows movements are listed to give an ontology of expressive tonal techniques. These include methods for controlling attack and decay parameters. As a crude test, these techniques can be distilled down to the these three simple methods:

1. key press and bellows movements are simultaneous
2. key press follows bellows movement
3. key press precedes bellows movement

Methods 2 and three can be tested using these simple exercises:

1. Put pressure on bellows without pressing key. Now press key. This gives a sharp attack.
2. Press key without putting pressure on bellows. Now push (or pull) bellows. This gives a slow attack.
3. Repeat the exercises above. Release the key, but maintain pressure on the bellows. This will give an immediate or rapid decay.
4. Repeat exercises 1 and 2. Do not release the key, but stop the note be ceasing bellows movement. This gives control of note shape, allowing moderate or slow decay.
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Jack Campin

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Re: Playing Medieval/Early music on melodeon
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2017, 12:45:15 AM »

Another thought on this, which may explain why it isn't done much.  A bisonoric free-reed is designed to make it easy to hop from one chord-based pattern to another; arpeggiation is built in.  But mediaeval music doesn't work that way.  Its melodic patterns are usually modal and scale-based, and there is often no possible chording - in some polyphonic pieces, each voice harmonizes ONLY with the adjacent one, so you may well get stacks of fourths and fifths rather than thirds, with the outer voices creating unresolved dissonances.  (This style probably came to western Europe from the Caucasus via northern Greece and the Balkans, where it still persists in Georgian, south Albanian and Epirus folk choral singing).

Which means random bellows reversals to fit the melody and your left hand not finding much use.  Tweaking the left side into single notes only might help, but I'm not sure there's any single arrangement you could count on using for more than a fraction of the repertoire.

Gregorian hymn tunes would give you some idea of what can you get to fit.  Certainly not this spaced-out extreme (music to die of the Black Death to) even if you had a three-ended melodeon:

http://tonefiend.com/music/14th-century-freakout/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84IJ5uKCNmM
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 01:10:13 AM by Jack Campin »
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