Tamesis Issue 260 March 2017
Our next workshop is the baroque chamber music playing day on Sunday 26th March.
Peter Collier is coming all the way from Manchester with a caravan full of
harpsichords, so it would be good if we could have a big turn-out. It’s always an
enjoyable day, with the chance of meeting new people and finding new music to play.
If you want to know more about the day I am happy for you to contact me for further
We (the committee) have been busy planning new events, with some difficulty as it’s
impossible to avoid clashing with something on almost every weekend of the year. In
April we have a workshop on the development of polychoral music in Germany. Most
people will have received a booking form by email but a printed one is enclosed for
those who missed it. Bookings have started coming in but so far we have no
applications from continuo players so if you can play electronic organ or theorbo you
will be particularly welcome. There is still plenty of room for singers and other
This year’s joint event with EEMF will be in Cambridge. I hope you won’t think it’s too
far to travel because it’s magnificent music conducted by Philip Thorby, so not to be
The June and July events will be held in Ickenham. Don Greig will be conducting a
workshop on Isaac for singers in June. If you were at the Patrick Craig workshop you
may be surprised that Peter Syrus’s workshop will be on July 15th and not the week
before, but in the end the 15th proved to be the better date. You may also be
intrigued by Peter’s terrible punning title: “Motets from the Bach and beyond”. He
writes that the day seeks to affirm ‘the’ (Johann Sebastian) Bach (1685-1750) as
‘merely’ the greatest in a long and revered dynasty. As well as at least one work by
JS, we will be looking at pieces by a number of his 17th century predecessors. The
day will be for all singers, viol and violin family, cornetts, sackbuts, curtals, lower
recorders and continuo and the pitch will be A=440.
Knowing that John Milsom said at his January workshop that he will in future only be
willing to conduct workshops using music from facsimile, we are planning a workshop
in September (with a different tutor) on singing and playing from facsimile so that we
will be able to invite him back in future years. It will be for voices, viols and recorders
and aimed at beginners and those with a little experience. In October there will be a
workshop for singers with Will Dawes on music by De Wert.
Many thanks to our contributors this month. It would be good if more people would
consider writing reviews so that the same few people (and particularly Sidney Ross)
don’t have to do all the work. Any sort of review will be welcome – you can just
mention the venue, the refreshments and who was there and briefly describe what the
music was and say if you liked it. There is absolutely no need to write an academic
essay, unless you want to of course.
And finally, I thought I had identified the owner of the rather nice spoon left behind at
the Christmas event in December, but it didn’t belong to the person who made the
carrot salad, as I’d been told. Do contact me if it’s yours.
I was delighted that we had significantly more singers than at previous Renaissance
Days, and I understand that they enjoyed the experience of singing with cornetts,
sackbuts, curtals, viols and recorders (though not all in the same session!). After the
usual frantic unpacking of music (only 33 box-files this time) and other necessary
chores, I relaxed and had a very rewarding day.
March 21st, JS Bach's birthday, has been designated as the European Day of Early
Music, and a significant number of events are being staged all over the continent - see
https://earlymusicday.eu/events for a list. Sadly, from my point of view, the offerings
are almost all from the Baroque, so for example the National Centre for early Music in
York is offering a concert of music by Bach and Handel given by the European baroque
Orchestra. I'm sure it will be lovely but those composers hardly need promoting these
days. There seems to be very little from before the 17th century, though the North of
England does offer Medieval Music in the Dales at Bolton Castle and Songs of the
Troubadours in Leeds. My Arti Fiati group will be meeting in High Wycombe that
evening, playing polychoral music circa 1600. It looks as if there will be 11 of us
(probably using all six of the 11-part pieces in my library), which should make a good
sound and it's a large hall, so if anyone fancies popping in to hear us between 8pm
and 10pm then get in touch with me. It's not a performance, more of an open
rehearsal. Here is a link to the Arti Fiati web page: www.tvemf.org/music/artifiati.htm
Welcome to the following new members
25 Cromwell Road, Shaw, Newbury RG14 2HP
01635 820379 ian.haslamntlworld.com
I:mrb BASS c* Trombone/Sackbut b Other interests: music publishing
44 Croft Road, Wallingford OX10 ONH
01491 833686 mhaslewoodyahoo.co.uk
I:mrb VOICE, REC SATB c
Flat 9 Aspire Building. 10 Upper Richmond Road, London SW15 2TS
07836 215181 bridgetrosewellgmail.com
I:mrb SOP c, ALTO c
Letter to TVEMF
Dear TVEMF Committee
I am writing to congratulate you on hiring such an inspirational Tutor for Saturday.
Patrick did an amazing job with us all. His whole approach was inclusive, positive and
educational and he simply coaxed the sound of music out of us. His energy was
tangible and he passed that on to us. There was no stress, worry, or impatience.
Instead, fun, lightheartedness, energy, learning, satisfaction and he covered the
whole syllabus for the day.
My daughter, my friends and I travelled an amazing journey with him and the other
56 singers. Patrick took us on a great informed journey through Anthropology,
Demography, Genealogy, Geography, Health, History, Musicology, Social History and
so much more. For sure, he helped to raise our ' happy hormone' levels' and at the
close of play, we were feeling better.
Thank you to you and whoever else who may have been involved in asking him to be
our Tutor. He was wonderful and my friends, my daughter and I really hope that you
have him regularly. He said to me that he is now a free agent and is branching out to
'do his own thing'. I would be very happy for my email to be sent on to him. If you
choose not to, please pass our gratitude to him. He really delivered the best.
Thank you again to all of you. Thank you also for the cake and tea. Our little group
loved it. Marvellous!
With best wishes,
Anne Wilkinson, Oxford.
Sidney Ross has written a splendid account of the day for us but I’m afraid you’ll have
to wait for the May Tamesis to read it. I’m pleased to say that I’m in the process of
booking Patrick to conduct our Christmas workshop in December 2018.
* * *
Fiona Weir sent me a link to an article about Patrick Craig which you may find
Some forty singers gathered together in the Friends’ Meeting House, Oxford on 21
January 2017 for another excursion into largely uncharted territory under the erudite
guidance of John Milsom. The two works which occupied our day were the nine-part
Salve Regina by Robert Wylkynson, (Eton Choir Book and Cantus Firmus spelling),
Wilkinson (New Grove) or the hybrid Wylkinson (John’s own version), and the Gloria
from the mass Et ecce terrae motus (the Earthquake Mass) by his near
contemporary, Antoine Brumel (ca 1460-1512/13). The New Grove gives W’s dates
as ca 1450-1515 or later, the Cantus Firmus edition as ca 1475-1515 or later. There
is some plausibility to this later dating, since the Newcastle University Eton Choirbook
Research Project suggests that he may have been a King’s Scholar in 1494 (so he
would have been nineteen or less in that year) before becoming, successively, parish
clerk, lay clerk and instructor, and then leaving, in unknown circumstances, in 1515.
Although the Salve Regina will be discussed in more detail later on in this review, your
reviewer would like to draw attention to the following entry in the New Oxford
Companion to Music (general editor, Denis Arnold, 1st edition, 1983). It is the very
last entry in volume 2, at p.1995, and it reads:-
Wylkinson, Robert (fl. late 15th, early 16th centuries). English composer. He
worked at Eton College, first as parish clerk and then as Master of the
Choristers from 1496 to 1515. His music survives in the Eton Choirbook and
includes a monumental nine-part Salve Regina and a curious setting of the
Apostles’ Creed in the form of a 13-part canon.
Wylkynson composed two settings of the Salve Regina, the other being set for five
voices. The New Grove states that his style appeared to be not fully developed in the
five-part setting, but appears to perfection in the nine-part setting, one of the glories
of the collection (that is, the Eton Choirbook). The nine parts represent the nine
orders of angels; the starring roles go to the sopranos (Seraphim and Cherubim) and
basses (Archangels and Angels). The altos, being Thrones, presumably sit around
looking decorative; the baritones (designated in the Musica Britannica edition
published by Stainer & Bell as the ‘inferior countertenors’) have to live up to their
billing as Virtues, and the tenors (the ‘superior countertenors’ being the Dominations,
and Principalities, while the Powers are allocated to the part designated ‘tenor’) no
doubt are charged with ensuring that the angelic mechanism ticks over regularly and
doesn’t fall apart. John’s explanation of the harmonic structure seemed to reflect this,
in that (as your reviewer understood it) it is largely determined by the setting of the
relevant outer parts, and the rest of the harmony is written into that structure, rather
like the cream and jam inserted between the layers of an enormous millefeuille
pastry. This can be seen in the small section (bars 63-74 of the Cantus Firmus edition
from which we sang) devoted to the single word ‘ostende’, although it was twenty
minutes before we progressed to singing the word itself rather than vocalising the
notes to the syllable ‘doo’. We were exhorted, in the course of this ‘dooing and
froing’, to be ‘nifty’, the particular type of niftiness being that of an eager spaniel
pulling on its leash-not, perhaps, the first image that might come to mind in the
context of performing a composition from the Eton Choirbook.
As John pointed out to us, the composition (which he dated to around 1505) is based
on a tenor cantus firmus, Assumpta est Maria in caelum. The very strong associations
of Eton College with the Virgin Mary which he drew to our attention are exemplified by
the special papal indulgence granted (presumably by Eugene IV on his restoration,
following the expulsion of the antipope Amadeus of Savoy) in 1443 to all penitents
visiting the collegiate church of Eton on the feast of the Assumption (each penitent
being expected to make a contribution towards the maintenance of the college) and
the armorial bearings granted in January 1447/8 which included three white lily
flowers (without leaves and stalks) denoting ‘the service of God and the blessed and
immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God’; see Lionel Cust, History of Eton College,
(Duckworth, London 1899), pp.13 and 17. The 93 compositions which have survived
to be included in the present-day edition of the Eton Choirbook include fifteen settings
of Salve Regina, as well as many other Marian texts.
The setting begins with a short nine-voice section in which the tenor (T3 in the Cantus
Firmus edition) renders the Assumpta est Maria cantus firmus, on the word ‘Salve’. It
is periodically re-stated throughout, by the tenor, and also by soprano 1 (quadruplex)
in the last of the three tropes, beginning on Et pro nobis flagellato, and the
composition is brought to a symmetrical conclusion by the tenor’s final, slightly
ornamented restatement, to the words O dulcis Maria, salve. The Cantus Firmus
edition prints four of the six verse tropes associated with Salve Regina, though the
Wylkynson setting does not utilise the Dele corpus miserorum verse which precedes O
dulcis Maria, salve. Throughout, the full nine-voice sections alternate with
contrapuntal or polyphonic passages. John explained to us that, technically,
‘counterpoint’ is a term which refers to settings for two voices; three or more
constitute ‘polyphony’. There is but one short section at the beginning of the first
trope, Virgo mater ecclesie, which is truly contrapuntal, as it is sung by S2 and B2,
the Cherubim and the angels, before the tenor joins them for the second half of the
verse, esto nobis refugium.
To sing through the entire piece, as we did at the end of the day, was a remarkable
experience; as one tenor said at the end, ‘The final Salve Regina was worth the trip’.
Indeed, John’s suggestion that the stresses of everyday living might be alleviated by
obtaining a copy of the Eton Choirbook and singing along with the Sixteen or the Tallis
Scholars might with advantage be communicated to Jeremy Hunt; one volume of the
Musica Britannica edition at approximately £70 from Stainer & Bell has to be a lot
cheaper than a course of anti-depressants, though of course, it is not so readily
portable as a small pack of (say) Celexa or Prozac.
In between working up the Salve Regina to something like end-of-the-day
performance level (though, unaccountably, the O clemens section and part of its trope
more or less escaped any rehearsal) we were taken through the Gloria of the Brumel
Earthquake Mass. Brumel was a fairly prolific composer who appears to have led a
restless life, beginning as a singer at Notre Dame in Chartres, ending as maestro di
cappella at the ducal court of Ferrara and holding other positions in France and
Switzerland in the interval, though in a career apparently dogged by controversy and
frosty relations with employers, he held none of them for more than six years. The
New Grove credits him with fifteen Masses, thirty-one motets, three Magnificat
settings and a few secular works with popular texts such as le moy de may and tous
les regrets. The New Grove says of the Earthquake Mass, which it places in the
middle period of his compositions, that ‘a work of such proportions must have been a
distinct novelty at the time’ and criticises his technique, remarking that ‘the rather
close grouping of the lower voices sometimes produces a thick, heavy texture,
perhaps reflecting the composer’s inexperience with large forces’; and indeed, apart
from three motets, two for five voices and one for eight, no other composition of his
written for more than four voices is extant. The article is less disobliging about the
cantus firmus, acknowledging that the Easter antiphon which serves in that role is
‘often skilfully moulded into a three-part canon’. One example is the laudamus te
section with T1, T2 and B3 entering at three-bar intervals, a fifth apart.
We sang from an edition prepared by Sally Dunkley. This provoked a short debate
about reduced note values which turned out to be about as inconclusive as the Brexit
referendum. The setting is for twelve voices, three each of sopranos, countertenors,
tenors and basses. There are no passages written specifically for smaller numbers of
voices and the treatment of the text is in many places unexpected; for instance, some
of the most highly ornamented and rapidly moving writing is devoted to the words
‘…miserere nobis Qui tollis peccata mundi’. It is perhaps less unexpected that this
style continues into ‘Qui sedes ad dexteram patris’ but then, instead of moving on to
‘Quoniam tu solus sanctus’, there is a passage of a dozen bars in which the words
‘miserere nobis’ are interpolated into the text. ‘Tu solus Dominus’ proved to be
somewhat disconcerting as those words are set in ways which produce different stress
patterns in the various parts, thereby creating what one might call a foundation of
chaos, on which was superimposed a layer of uncertainty as those of us previously
unacquainted with this work picked our way through it for the first time. It was
something of a relief to reach the relatively uncomplicated final section, and the tea-break
before singing through the Gloria and then the Salve Regina was particularly
We are all deeply indebted to John for another fascinating musical experience and we
hope (notwithstanding his announced intention of devoting himself henceforth to
directing events where the singing is from facsimile) that he can yet be persuaded to
direct a TVEMF event occasionally. No-one else (at least, in this reviewer’s
experience) has led us down so many previously unknown and ultimately rewarding
pathways. Warm thanks are also due to Nicola Wilson-Smith for organising the event,
to David Fletcher who reformatted and printed the Brumel Earthquake Mass, and to
the providers of tea, coffee, cake and biscuits.
TVEMF Renaissance Day at Burnham 25.02.17
This was another stimulating day of discovery – new music in new combinations of
instruments and voices. A little different this time, as there were more singers
present. Enough for there to be a vocal element in 11 of the 20 different combinations
across four sessions that David Fletcher managed to conjure up for us. Plus one 7-part
a capella vocal ensemble.
Each musician could only experience four of these twenty groups during the day, so
my report is necessarily limited to those I took part in.
My day began with Lamentations. Given the mortality of the population in the times
when our music was written it is not surprising that Lamentations was a popular title.
However it may not have been the best way to start a grey February day.
In the next session we arrived at Christmas and cheered up by singing Hodie Christus
Natus Est (Heinrich Schütz). In fact we had a really good time with this muscular,
grounded music with its bouncy triple time sections that make you feel like dancing.
As often happens on these Renaissance Days we were surprised at how well our
unexpected combination of two cornetts, tenor sackbut, treble recorder, tenor and
bass singers worked. A great, bright sound for Christmas celebration. We followed this
celebration with Maria Stabat (Andrea Gabrieli). A beautiful, if melancholy piece of
music which still was effective with our instrumental/vocal combination.
In session three it was a violin, three viols and a bass singer. We tried some Balletts
by Thomas Morley and enjoyed the tricky rhythms and fleetness of the music.
Somehow, having the sentiments of the songs being expressed only by the bass line
seemed a little odd. Though we did try to think of it as appropriate to the period,
when domestic music would have been made by whoever happened to be in the room
at the time. We moved on to less controversial material with Cipriano de Rore’s
Motets in 5 parts. We read through Da Pace Domine, and then did more work on
Concordes Adhibite Animos Musae (In Mortem Adriani Willaert). In this music the
flowing lines of the strings with a legato bass line felt at home.
Session 4 for me was another instrumental/vocal ensemble producing a memorable
sound. Two treble recorders, sackbut, soprano alto and bass voices combined in
Gaudete Omnes by Hieronymus Praetorius to make joyful music. Having thoroughly
enjoyed that we were delighted to find that Sancta Maria Succurre Miseris by Andrea
Gabrieli provided us with another glorious sound. And one to linger over, making us
one of the last groups to stop playing that day.
As always our thanks is due to David Fletcher for all his work in providing this day of
opportunity when we could meet music and people new to us. Long may it continue.
For myself, I was appreciative of the excellent musicians/singers that I was able to
make music with. I very much hope that we can do this again in the future.
Here’s an interesting link: http://www.friendsofsquarepianos.co.uk
The Demise of Sheet Music?
Sheet music takes up a lot of storage space and has to be kept in some form of
classified order to be efficiently retrieved. It often deteriorates with age and can easily
get damaged and mislaid. Music is also heavy to carry around and is hard to see in
poor light. Converting sheet music to electronic format might solve all these problems
but until relatively recently there have been problems in the use of this format.
Tablets have been too small so it is hard to look ahead and pages have to be
frequently turned. Tablets have also been heavy to hold for long periods at a time and
this is a disadvantage for singers. Most problematic of all, it has been impossible to
mark up music with further directions and to correct misprints.
In the past year or two I have occasionally seen instrumental performers reading from
tablets at concerts. Furthermore at the beginning of 2016 a number of singers were
downloading music for ‘Polyphony down the Pub’ (see March 2016 Tamesis). I used
this method myself with my iPad 2 at PDtP sessions as it saved the time and cost of
printing out a large quantity of music to be sung once or twice and then disposed of.
However the screen size was inconveniently small and the music could not be marked.
This did not matter too much in the light-hearted context of PDtP but clearly was not
good enough for more serious work.
Around six months ago when my iPad, then over 5 years old, needed replacing I
wondered if the assumptions I was still making regarding the suitability of tablets for
reading music were still correct. A little research demonstrated that I was decidedly
out of date in my views. The three relatively recent crucial changes have been that
tablets are becoming less heavy, that there are now devices enabling text to be
marked up, and that at least one tablet, namely the iPad Pro 12.9 inches, is only
marginally smaller than A4 paper. I found a number of YouTube videos describing the
necessary hardware and software to acquire and these convinced me that the
investment was worth making. There are videos of choirs and of pianists reading from
electronic scores, the latter also using Bluetooth foot pedals to turn pages. Most
helpful of all is a video presented by MaestromilesUK and entitled ‘iPad Pro review as a
replacement for sheet music’. Miles is a professional musician and conductor and
explains very clearly why he considers this particular tablet to be the most effective
tablet currently on the market and how to use it for reading music. He demonstrates
how to download music available free on the Internet and recommends the Turboscan
app for scanning sheet music onto a tablet and the ForScore app to enable
organisation and retrieval of files of electronic music. Additionally he outlines the
Apple Pencil that is far more effective than a ‘normal’ pencil as a device for marking
up music, highlighting, erasing and so on. The video is aimed particularly at
instrumentalists but is clearly also applicable to singers. To watch it, visit YouTube
and search for ‘Maestromilesuk’.
I have now acquired the hardware and software recommended by Miles and, after a
little practice at home with TurboScan and ForScore, I often use my tablet at
rehearsals and workshops for both instrumental and vocal music. For instrumental
music the tablet is placed on a music stand. There is of course always the danger that
the stand might be accidentally moved causing the tablet to fall but the level of risk
depends on circumstances. I feel totally relaxed playing string quartets in a carpeted
room but less so as an orchestral player in a room with a hard floor. This potential
danger does not occur when singing and, having held the tablet at all-day workshops,
I have found it is not too heavy and the battery for the tablet and pencil easily last the
whole period. Finding files of music from a large collection is extremely quick with
ForScore and turning pages is easier than turning ‘real’ pages. The pencil takes a little
getting used to but once its use is mastered it is far more flexible than a conventional
pencil. For example the thickness can be varied, different colours can be employed
and passages can be highlighted. When singing a middle part from a multi-part score
it can be very helpful to highlight the line you are singing and this can be
accomplished quickly without any danger of smudging. Furthermore erasing is very
quick and clean. Once music is marked these markings will remain indefinitely unless
erased. In addition to playing and singing directly from the tablet I have also
downloaded vocal and instrumental scores to the tablet for reference in sessions when
a group is singing or playing from single parts. Searching and downloading from CPDL
and IMSLP is quick and simple and the amount of music available through these sites
is exceedingly large.
I certainly do not envisage sheet music becoming a thing of the past any time soon
for many reasons but I am sure, over the coming years, it will be increasingly
common to see both singers and instrumentalists reading music from tablets. The
technology required for this activity will continue to improve but it is already good
enough to adopt now.
12-19 August 2017
Irish Recorder and Viol Course
An Grianán, Termonfechin, Ireland
Tutors: Ibi Aziz, Marion Doherty, Pamela Flanagan, Emma Murphy, Marion Scott,
A course designed for players of recorders, viols and other early instruments, covering a wide repertoire
from ancient to modern. Sessions include one-to-a-part groups, workshops, technique classes, consort songs,
trio sonatas, choir, large and small ensembles.
Further information from:
Mrs. Patricia Flanagan, 110 Kincora Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3, Ireland
Tel: 00 353 85 2880389
Opportunities to make music
Early music in South Croydon
Please contact Jean on 0208 406 9248 or by email at sonata30virginmedia.com if
you are interested in meeting once a month in the afternoon or evening to play music,
mainly Renaissance and baroque. All instruments are welcome; a piano is available
and also an electronic keyboard with a harpsichord voice.
* * *
The St Mary’s Singers would welcome some extra singers for their Choral Evensong in
Guildford Cathedral on Saturday April 29th. The rehearsal is at 1pm and the service
at 5pm. The music is as follows:
Short Service, Gibbons (Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis).
Non vos relinquam, Byrd
Please email James Reed jnmr84094gmail.com to register an interest and receive
music and information.
News of Members’ Activities
TVEMF member Norma Herdson’s latest Thames Valley baroque workshop in Bourne
End will be on Sunday April 23rd, with music by music suitable for St George’s Day by
Purcell (excerpts from the Fairy Queen), Hook (Harpsichord Concerto no. 5) and
Boyce (Symphony from Solomon). Soloist in the Hook will be TVEMF member Barbara
Moir and the conductor will be Michael Sanderson. You are invited to apply if you are
a baroque instrumentalist at 415 or a singer. For more information please contact
Norma. (01628 621367) Nherdsonbtinternet.com
Thurs 23 March, 6.30-7.30pm. Elin Harries (soprano), Yeo Yat-Soon hpschd)
Boneyards & Bluestockings. Music by Haydn, Galuppi and Giordani
Thursday 30 March, 6.30-7.30pm. Tabea Debus (recorder)
Songs Without Words. Music JS Bach, Handel and Purcell
Tuesday 11 April, 6.30-7.30pm. Marta López Fernández (harpsichord)
The Art of Variation. Music by Frescobaldi, Muffat, Couperin
Thursday 13 April, 6.30-7.30pm. David Beaney (Baroque flute and recorders),
Claire Williams (harpsichord), Lesley Holliday (Baroque flute)
Beg, Borrow or Steal. Music by Handel
Thursday 20 April, 6.30-7.30pm. Satoko Doi-Luck (harpsichord)
Heritage of an English Harpsichord. Music by Handel, Gibbons & Blow
Bookings 020 7399 1953 https://handelhendrix.org/whats-on/events/
Contact 020 7495 1685 mailhandelhendrix.org
Museum opening hours Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm. Last admission 5pm.