Medieval Music in the Dales – Update (March 2015)

new collage

September 2nd – 4th 2016s 

Bolton Castle in Wensleydale

At Trouvère Towers, we have been very busy for the past six weeks or so on our new CD, Magna Melodia (of which more news very soon), but i am now able at last to return to the subject of our major new event for next year – Medieval Music in the Dales.

Since we posted up the first notices of the event in mid-January we have had such a very positive response, with expressions of interest from across the UK and even further afield. it’s been grand to see. Performers who’ve so far expressed an interest include (apart from Trouvère of course!)…

Leah-Stuttard-webAt Cordesgaita

Steve Tyler and Katy Marchant, Gaita Medieval Music, Sarah Fuhs, Leah Stuttard, De Mowbray’s Musicke, A Merrie Noyse Minstrels, Merrie Din, Claire Hannah and Capriole, Graham Wright, Maranella, Tom Hughes, Richard York, Charlotte Ewart, Lizzie Gutteridge with some or all of Blondel, the York Waits and the Colchester Waits, Vagarem, Waytes and Measures, Slag ende Stoot, Clare Goodall, Roughe Musicke and Le Caste Nymphe.

clare goodallSteve Tyler and Katy Marchant 1blondel

Now, not everyone of these will be able to come along in the end –  but it’s clear that already we are going to have a grand array of medieval music-making such as has not been seen or heard in Bolton Castle for many a year! And there’s room and time for more yet…

We have also had nice interest from luthiers, including George Stevens (to be confirmed), Benjamin Simao Trinox Samoni, Jean-Daniel Talma of Atelier Elbock, Eric and Jane Moulder, and Alberic’s Workshop. Lizzie Gutteridge will also be selling her incomparable rommelpots, and we hope that more instrument makers and other suppliers will join in as word gets about. Likewise, we will be on the lookout for great traders for our medieval market.

There are some tempting prospects for workshops – beginners’ bagpipe from Tom Hughes, more advanced hurdy gurdy from Steve Tyler, medieval dance from Charlotte Ewart amongst others, medieval harp st oswaldswith Leah Stuttard… We shall be returning to ask for preferences on workshops in due course and all ideas are welcome in the meantime.

It looks very likely that we will have the use of St Oswald’s Parish Church at least on the Saturday. This is a great medieval setting standing in the shadow of the castle – a fourteenth century church contemporary with Bolton Castle and a lovely intimate space for concerts.

What do we mean by medieval?

Fundamentally, it’s all about repertoire. So often a lot of music gets lumped together as medieval when there is nothing medieval about it at all, apart from a general impression or feel. Our golden rule for Medieval Music in the Dales is that all music performed at the event should be medieval, and by this we mean it should be sourced to the period 500 – 1500 CE. A thousand years of notated music give us plenty to play with! And on the other hand, that does mean a few ‘no-nos’:

  • no ‘well, they are described as old, so they’re probably medieval’ – yes, we are looking at you, various branles from Arbeau…
  • no ‘everyone thinks it’s medieval so it would be a shame not to’ – you know what we mean, no Greensleeves!
  • no ‘it’s all part of a long folk tradition so must go back’ – so no ‘traditional’ carols unsourced before 1500
  • no original compositions in ‘a medieval style’ (so no Clannad ‘Robin of Sherwood’ music, lovely as it might be!)

No one’s going to come and throw a band out for playing something 16th century, but we really hope that everyone will keep these guidelines in mind, and that way Medieval Music in the Dales will offer a uniquely medieval musical experience.

What about instruments?

It’s already clear that there will be wealth of quality replica medieval instruments on show and in use at MMITD, and it’ll be great to hear their particular qualities. We encourage the use of medieval instruments at MMITD, but it is not a hard-and-fast rule as we know many people enjoy playing excellent medieval repertoire on more modern instruments. That said, we’d rather avoid any bowed psalteries… no, seriously, the most important thing is that the material played should be medieval in origin.

Costume or not?

One of the many nice things about Bolton Castle is that it offers several venues for our daytime music-making and we are thinking that at least one of these venues will be a ‘costume not necessary’ space. Obviously, many medieval musicians enjoy presenting the music in appropriate outfits, but some folk would probably rather die than dress up(!) and we still want them to be able to share their medieval sounds. This might also be the best format for people presenting medieval repertoire on more modern instruments. But we hope that there will be plenty of medieval ‘looks’ as well as medieval sounds, especially as we will be in such a perfect period setting…

What’s next?

We are intending to apply for arts funding to cover some of the key elements of the event and this application will be submitted this autumn, once a firmer line-up of key performances and workshops has been settled. In the spring of 2016 we shall be starting a crowd-funding appeal to supplement this funding and this will also be a vehicle for buying advance tickets. More on this in due course!

In the meantime as well, please support Medieval Music in the Dales by spreading the word and by submitting any ideas or wishes you have for the event. We Trouvères might be organising the whole thing but we totally rely on the continued interest and input of all the other medieval music lovers who want the event not just to succeed but also to flourish into future years. So – for example…

  • if you are a trader or performer yourself, and might be able to exhibit ‘Medieval Music in the Dales’ leaflets, please get in touch and we’ll get some to you…
  • If you might be interested in volunteering at the event as a steward, let us know…
  • If you have an idea for a source of funding, ooh, let us know…
  • If you can offer a suitable workshop, let us know…
  • If you have press contacts that might be interested in featuring ‘Medieval Music in the Dales’, let us know…
  • If you know of a medieval instrument maker, let them know about the event as we’d love to have them along…

You get the idea!

That’s all now folks. Back with another update soon. We’ll have undertaken a full site visit in April so should have a clearer idea of the various spaces and how they interact. Watch this space…

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