Medieval Music in the Dales – Latest News

This is an online version of our latest Medieval Music in the Dales newsletter – though don’t forget if you want to get the newsletter as an email, just get in touch. We’ve been really busy with fundraising over the last couple of months, and here’s what we’ve been up to…

I’ve made three applications for funding so far. The major one is the Grants for the Arts application to Arts Council England – this is for about 55% of the total funding, so is obviously fairly significant!  It was clear to us that MMITD is a pretty unique event that will involve a huge number of musicians and crafts people, and it seemed perfect… With all the pressure on the public purse at the moment, nothing can be taken for granted, but we will  know by the end of January if our bid will be successful. Please keep your fingers crossed – it was a major undertaking just completeing the paperwork!!!

bagpipe society logo new.pngI also considered special interest groups that might like to back MMITD. I was really delighted to hear that The Bagpipe Society were offering grants. They were really happy to support MMITD, specifically and for the most part to fund the travel expenses to the UK of Danilo Turchetti of Musica Inspirata, who is busily reinventing the medieval bagpipe to exquisite effect.

I’ve also looked at local funding sources, and recieved good advice  from the Dales Tourism Business Network. And I’m delighted to announce that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund has granted us £700 to support the marketing of the event. Open to any individual, business, community group orvoluntary sector body, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund provides a simple and accessible source of money for a range of projects that result in positive benefits fro the National Park, its envYDNPA 5cm CMYKironment, its economy and its communities, while enhancing and conserving local culture, wildlife and landscape. It’s wonderful that they have decided to assist MMITD in this way.
More information about the Fund here: http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/sdf

How You Can Help One – Crowdfunding in February

Our crowdfunding campaign will be our other major means of fundraising for MMITD. Crowdfunding is a great way of cooperating to make something happen and another great boon of the internet age. Sites like Kickstarter or Crowdfunder allow causes and projects to promote themselves to anyone interested, in the hope of gaining financial support. Supporters can contribute to the project financially by making pledges, and in return they get rewards.

From the start, we thought this would be a great model for MMITD as a way for supporters to book advance tickets – at the most excellent prices, naturally – and other benefits. Thus people who can’t actually come along to MMITD might be interested in the CD or DVD of the event or one of the other commemorative items. Crowdfunding also opens up the option for supporters to sponsor aspects of the event, and indeed to make contributions just because they (rightly!) love the whole idea!

Crowdfunding campaigns typically set a target that they have to reach. on this model, if the target is not reached, the campaign fails and all support is cancelled. So we really want to encourage everyone to get on board and book their tickets good and early so that the campaign will succeed and we can go forward with the clearest idea of our total funding.

Our crowdfunding campaign will begin in mid-Feburary and run through to Easter- and make no mistake, you won’t be able to miss it! Here are the key facts :

  • The campaign will run for six weeks, from mid-February to Easter 2016
  • There will be a range of tickets available as supporter Rewards.
  • One of the Rewards will be the Performer Pass – the cheapest ticket of all and only available as a crowdfunding Reward. This is for those who want to take part in the Open Stages and be part of the music-making.
  • Crowdfunding tickets will be cheaper than those available later!
  • Crowdfunding tickets will be the only way to reserve the limited camping pitches
  • Crowdfunding ticket-buyers get priority on their choice of workshops and concerts
  • You can make more than one pledge!
  • If you are feeling especially generous, crowdfunding offers the opportunity to sponsor a concert or a workshop – all such offers are gratefully received…
  • When you make your Pledge to buy a ticket, I will be in touch with a booking form. As appropriate, you can specify all your choices for workshops on this and – if applying     for a Performer Pass – also give details of your performance, instruments, repertoire etc.
  • And – most important – we’ve got to reach the target by Easter!!!

Full advance details of the full range of pledges and rewards will be released in the first half of February. Please help us all out by joining in the Crowdfunding Campaign.

How You Can Help Two: easyfundraising-logo-2

This is a frankly splendid idea. I caught on to it because I saw a Facebook post from the Oxford Folk Weekend announcing that they had raised several hundred pounds for their very splendid event via this ‘easyfundraising.org.uk’. I looked it up and saw it could be a great way to raise money for MMITD. Here’s how it works.

Whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday to your car insurance – you could be raising a free donation for Medieval Music in the Dales There are nearly 3,000 retailers on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline and Sainsbury’s – and it doesn’t cost you a penny extra!

It’s really simple, all you have to do is:

  1. Join – Head to easyfundraising.org,uk and sign up for free as a supporter.

  2. Shop – Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first, pick the retailer you want and start shopping.

  3. Raise – After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost whatsoever.

There are no catches or hidden charges at all – it’s a win-win all round. For example, I most recently bought a few Christmas presents at John Lewis and got a £1.35 donation! A £40 train ticket booked through thetrainline earnt £0.64. Even a film rented on Amazon bought a few pennies.. I’m sure you can see how it can all add up – but we really need a few more of you good people to sign up as supporters. Give it some thought?

Once you’re signed up, you can also install an easyfundraising Donation Reminder on your computer, which will give you a handy little reminder whenever a donation is available when you’re shopping online – so you never miss the chance to donate. When you see the alert, just click to activate your donation. It’s as easy as that! Shoppers who use the easyfundraising Donation Reminder raise five times more donations for their cause because it helps them remember. You’ll love it and we will too! Find out more and help raise five times more for Medieval Music in the Dales here.

Also, if you shop on your mobile or tablet, you could get the free easyfundraising app and again you’ll never miss a donation. To get it, visit the App Store or Google Play and search for ‘easyfundraising’ or find out more here.

Other new developments since September

There have also been exciting developments on the line-up front since September. Our line-up for the luthiers’ exhibition is now as follows:

  • Ardival Harps (wire and git-strung historical harps)
  • Atelier Elbock (flutes of many kinds)
  • AtelierTri Nox Samoni (flutes of many kinds, lyres, early guitars)
  • Early Music Shop (wide range of historical and folk instruments)
  • George Stephens (medieval gitterns, lutes, harps)
  • Kalum Hewitt (medieval soundbox instruments of many kinds)
  • Jim Parr (bagpipes and shawms)
  • Leaf Trading Post (bone flutes, percussion)
  • Margotton Lutherie (soundbox instruments of many kinds)
  • Musica Inspirata (bagpipes)
  • Phil Bleazey (flutes of many kinds)
  • Philippe Bolton (recorders)

And there are a couple more very likely but still to be confirmed (we like to keep you guessing a bit…) Full details will be confirmed in the next newsletter – out in early February.

Finally – more on the location for MMITD: The Yorkshire Dales

press-muker-meadow
There’s no getting away from it, the Yorkshire Dales are one of the most splendid areas of outstanding natural beauty in the country. Being able to have our event in such a stunning location is a definite plus.

The Yorkshire Dales is the second largest national park in England  after the Lake District. One of its most distinctive features is its network of drystonepress-askrigg-wensleydale walls, and there are 8689km of them! They are formed from the limestone that is the bedrock of the Dales and which contributes so much to its unique character.

The Yorkshire Dales have been shaped by thousands of years of human occupation, with each dale having its own special character. One of the most fascinating finds in the area is the Iron Age bone flute found near Malham – so MMITD is part of a very long musical heritage indeed!

Pictures courtesy of The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

For all general enquiries or to join the mailing list please email: medievalmusicinthedales@gmail.com

There’s also our spanking new website: http://www.medievalmusicinthedales.co.uk

You can like the Medieval Music in the Dales Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/medievalmusicinthedales

You can also contact Trouvère
by email: trouvere_york@hotmail.com
by phone: 07720118406
and our website is: http://www.medievalminstrels.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Medieval Music in the Dales

 A long weekend of medieval music with performance, market, workshops and more –  at Bolton Castle in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales

September 2nd, 3rd and 4th 2016

We are planning an ambitious new event for 2016. Medieval Music in the Dales will offer a weekend of all  things to do with medieval music. Currently, the UK does not have an event solely dedicated to medieval music – which tends to get mixed  up with the Renaissance, or even later periods, when in fact it has so much that sets it apart.

Medieval Music in the Dales (MMITD)  will have a strict timescale for performance of 500-­‐1500. It will feature instrument makers who specialise in, or include in their range, instruments from this period. There will also be elements of living history, which will similarly stick to this timescale.

castle

And it will have the perfect setting… The fourteenth-­century home of the  medieval Scrope family, Bolton Castle commands Wensleydale in a simply stunning setting. Though  battered in the Civil War, a large part of the Castle remains fully intact, allowing for plenty of room for performance, displays, and eating and drinking. Participants in MMITD will be welcome to stay at the Castle or camp on site. Facilities are basic but it is a  wonderful place to stay!

Here’s what we are hoping to include in the weekend:

  • A display of luthiers, with instruments of all kinds, from the Friday afternoon through to the Sunday afternoon
  • Informal music-making from Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend
  • A ticketed medieval banquet in the Great Chamber of the Castle on the Friday evening
  • A concert on Saturday evening – and maybe further concerts at other times.
  • Workshops on the Saturday, and maybe the Sunday also
  • A medieval market featuring quality suppliers of medieval living history equipment from the Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend

More about the location…

floor plans

Bolton Castle offers excellent and fitting accommodation for our music-making. The castle is arranged around a central courtyard that is open to the air. This courtyard has potential as a venue for the living history market stalls – as does the garden. The interior spaces that we will be using are all on the first and second floors as marked…

Visitors enter the castle on the first floor. From here they can either go into the shop and access the rest of the castle – or else into the tea room, which is one possible performance space for informal music. Going through the gift shop, visitors can access the Old Kitchen – a really excellent medieval space which is easily transformed into a medieval tavern – a further performance space where drinks could be available. Bolton Castle can even provide barrels of real ale!

solar2

Going upstairs from the gift shop, visitors pass by the Chapel. This is now open to the elements but, weather permitting, is another lovely performance space. Staying indoors, one comes on the second floor to the Solar (right). This is a splendid large space, with the small Nursery adjoining up a short flight of stairs. The Solar will be the venue for the luthiers’ display.

great chamber with side

Along a short corridor lies the Great Chamber (left) – a truly majestic space which will be the venue for timed  slots of music, and for the MMITD trade stall selling CDs of the bands and musicians performing at the event as well as offering publicity material for performers and luthiers. This is also the venue for the ticketed medieval banquet on the Friday night. It will also make a great location for dance workshops.

bolton_castle_map_large with side

Bolton Castle sits at the western end of a small villlage. As the picture map shows, it has substantial gardens offering – along with the courtyard –  plenty of space for the living history market – and indeed outdoor performance.

The church can also be seen to the north of the castle – this is a possible venue for the concerts. There is also a village meeting room, which could house small workshops. This lies off the map on the eastern side at the far end of the village – it’s just a short walk.

The car park is actually quite large – it’s not to scale here – and there is plenty of room for camping in this area on both hardstanding and grassed areas.

Getting it all happening!

We have already explored the idea of ‘Medieval Music in the Dales’ with some of the key performers and instrument makers from the UK and abroad and it’s gone down really well with everyone so far. We are confident that we can attract some of the best performers and makers to the event. More details of the line-up will follow – it’s early days yet but it is looking good!

If you are interested in taking part or simply in coming along to MMITD then at this stage please join our mailing list or Facebook page to keep in touch with developments.  Please do get in touch if you would like to take part in MMITD as a performer, luthier or trader!

Here’s the contact details for MMITD:

For all general enquiries or to join the mailing list please email: medievalmusicinthedales@gmail.com

Or like the Medieval Music in the Dales Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/medievalmusicinthedales. NB – to get all updates on the page it’s advised to ‘like’ the page and then activate ‘Get Notifications’ from the dropdown menu under the ‘Liked’ button.

You can of course also contact Trouvère
by email: trouvere_york@hotmail.com
by phone: 07720118406
and our website is: http://www.medievalminstrels.com

new collage

Magna Melodia – designing the CD

 

I’ve been working on the cover image for the new CD. I wanted something that suggested ‘Magna Carta’ but also something that emphasised music. So this is what I’ve come up with.

The primary image is taken from the seal of King John, as used on the great charter, but here in full colour. This is the obverse of the seal, which always shows the monarch in majesty – sat in state and holding the insignia of his (or her) office. Thus John holds imagea sword in his right hand and the orb in his left hand. The other side of the seal – the reverse – showed the monarch on horse back, in the characteristic knightly pose: horse at the gallop, knight in full armour with sword raised to the back. This double-faced style of seal was instituted in this country by William the Conqueror, and remains in place to this day with the reverse of the current royal seal showing Queen Elizabeth on horseback as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards and the obverse showing her ‘in majesty’ with the sceptre and the orb,

On John’s royal seal, the image is surrounded by the words Ioannes Dei gratia rex Anglie dominus Hibernie, in other words’ “John by the grace of God king of England lord of Ireland”. I’ve replaced this with the name off the CD! using letters modelled on those in the seal.

So that’s the Magna Carta angle. For the musical side of things, I thought I might echo the many medieval images of King David, the great biblical musician. He is often shown (usually himself playing an instrument) surrounded by other musicians.

So I snuck in images of a female musician playing a harp in the top left and a symphony on the bottom right (representing me!) and a male musician playing a duct flute in the top right and a medieval lute in the bottom left (representing Paul). All four of these images are loosely based on medieval exemplars. The harp player is based on the King David in the Westminster Psalter – the same image upon which Eric Kleinmann based my wonderful new Romnesque harp – while the symphony player is based on the famous miniature in the Cantigas de Santa Maria. The lute player is drawn from the Cantigas and also a couple of images in Alphonse X’s Book of Games, while the original of the flute player is a slightly earlier and English image.

Having created the image, we will now pass it on to our splendid graphic designer, Matt Riley of fusion design in York to transform it into a CD cover with our logo and all the other details and packaging.

It was an added bonus that this design echoed the circle-in-a-square design we’d used in the past for ‘Music for a Medieval Feast’ and ‘Music for a Tudor Feast’. We toyed satirically with the idea of calling this CD ‘Music for a Major Medieval Constitutional Change’ but wisely thought better in the end…

*          *          *

Musically, things are going really well. Paul has been concentrating on the troubadour material and has been recording the first instrumental pieces. I’ve been working on the pronunciation for ‘La dousa votz’ and ‘Voulez vous que je vous chant’ – those pesky differences between Occitan and French are testing me!  We’ve decided to include Raimbaut de Vaqueiras’ Kalenda Maya (in an instrumental version) and the melody sometimes known as the English Dance. This comes from the same manuscript as Foweles in the Frith – Douce 139 – and so is right at the end of our period. Soon we will be turning to the Sicilian repertoire, which being largely Christmas tunes and also twelfth century, will also play a large part in our music for the Norman Christmas event at the Tower of London (27-31 December), and our ‘Medieval Christmas’ concert at Barley Hall in York (18 December).

Working hard on ‘Magna Melodia’…

We have been really getting to grips with some new repertoire over the last few weeks, and it’s all shaping up to a very pleasing and varied programme of music for our ‘Magna Melodia’ concert of music from the time of the Magna Carta. One tune that we’ve been working on in particular is the lament on the death of Richard the Lionheart, by the troubadour Gaucelm Faidit.

This lament is usually known as ‘Fortz chausa es’, which is its original Occitan title, but the song with its music survives in four manuscripts (and many more with just the words), and we have chosen to do one of the lesser-known versions, in which the song has been reworded in French (or more like heavily Frenchified Occitan). We went for this version for a couple of reasons – firstly, it is the one in our beloved ‘Chansonnier du Roi’, the mid-thirteenth century collection that is the basis for our 2012 CD Music for a Medieval Prince. It’s always nice to expand our repertoire from this wonderful source. Secondly, this much less well-known version of the tune is a bit different (though clearly ‘the same’ in a broad sense) and this allowed scope for us to develop our own version of the song. Thirdly, we liked the idea of a French version, as we thought it more likely for an aristocratic English audience, whose own language would have been (broadly) that of northern France. Use of the Chansonnier version, however, brought its own problems. Firstly, there are only two verses given (other versions are much longer), so we will only work with these two. Secondly, there are the usual problems of damage in the Chansonnier, and very small sections of both music and words are missing. We have substituted these sections from other extant versions.

It is a stunning song in which words and music work so well together to express the devastation felt at the death of King Richard. The verse is through composed – there is no repetition of themes or phrases, rather the tune is continually changing and developing, while retaining an overall unity.  Here is our working version of the first verse, (although eventually it will probably end up a bit freer in rhythm); asterisks mark the ends of lines:

Fortz chausa dots page 1

Here’s my rough translation, to give an idea of the flavour of the piece:

It’s a harsh matter and certainly the most harmful, and the most grievous sorrow that ever was. This thing that should be mourned for all time with weeping, I must say it well in singing and must recount it. He who was of valiant men the captain and the father, the valiant king Richard, king of the English, he is dead – alas – what sorrow and what loss – what an unfriendly word and savage to hear. The man that can endure it has a hard heart indeed.

In the second verse, the poet goes on to compare Richard – favourably, of course – with Alexander the Great, Charlemagne and Arthur. In other versions, further verses lament the fate of the Holy Land now that Richard is no longer around to fight for it.

I have been learning the song, and I found it a little hard at first to get a handle on it, but the more you sing it the more interesting and satisfying it gets.  The melody is really unusual and in this version ends off the tonic – curious but beguiling! I am looking forward to singing it in concert, when it will be accompanied by the medieval lute.

While ‘Chose fort avias’ has been our major focus over the last week, we have also begun work on a wonderful piece of Aquitanian polyphony, the ‘Lux refulget’. This has some incredibly mobile melodic lines for us to master! Paul has begun work on Bernart de Ventadorn’s “La dousa votz’, and I have been working hard on ‘Man mei longe him lives wene’ and ‘Foweles in the Frith’: the latter sounds very sweet with both lines played on the harp. We will post up some sounds on Facebook soon!

 

 

 

Magna Melodia

magna melodia

Magna Melodia is our concert programme for 2015, in honour of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The initial agreement of the Great Charter lies smack in the middle of the period of music that we are most interested in, and so this noteworthy anniversary has provided an admirable spur to us to gather a good range of material into a great programme. Magna Melodia is available for concert bookings in 2015 (with several already signed up!), and also as a programme of linked presentations at medieval festivals or other medieval events. And we are going to put it all together into a CD as well – which will also be available as a digital download.

Magna Melodia presents music from the world of the early Plantagenet kings – Henry II, his sons Richard and John, and his grandson Henry III. As you can see, the timespan is thus c1150 – c.1250. Geographically, the programme goes from England (of course!) to Sicily via the trouveres of northern France and the troubadours of the south. We have been able to include a great deal of our existing repertoire but have also moved into new pastures and new repertoire. Magna Melodia is at this time still to some extent a work in progress – we are trying out different options and thinking what will match up best to make the most satisfying programme – but here’s an idea of what we have in mind.

‘Volez vous que je vous chant’ is a beautiful anonymous trouvère reverdie – it recounts a dream.  We’ve chosen this as our introductory piece as it is redolent of so much that was key to the musical scene in the early thirteenth century. The song conjures up the world of the aristocratic music-makers of both northern and southern France

“Do you want me to sing you a song of love? This was not written by a common man – a knight composed this song, sitting in the shade of an olive tree in the arms of his beloved…”

The song goes on to paint a portrait of an idealised woman, not exactly human:

the nightingale was my father, who sings on the branch and in the high hedges; the siren was my mother, who sings in the salty sea and on the high riversides

This made me think of the legend of Melusine – the fairy woman, daughter of the devil, who was believed to be the distant ancestor of the Plantagenet kings. From the devil they came, it was said, and to the devil they would return…

Richard, John and Henry III had this devil’s inheritance on one side, but on the other – through their mother Eleanor – they had the heritage of Aquitaine, the very heartland of the troubadour tradition. Troubadour music was woven into the lives of the sons of Henry II and as patrons and friends of many composers they are often referenced in specific songs. Henry the Young King, the initial son and heir of Henry II, was the subject of a renowned planh, or lament, by Bertran de Born. Unfortunately, the music for this planh has not survived but we intend to present a partial narration of this lament against the instrumental background of  another de Born melody. Alongside this we will present Gaucelm Faidit’s planh on the death of Richard the Lionheart. King John fared less well at the hands of the troubadours, being noticeably criticised by de Born’s son, another Bertran:

“… his heart is soft and cowardly and no man should ever trust him.”

Troubadour music is also represented by a pair of songs by Bernart de Ventadorn, closely associated with Eleanor of Aquitaine: at present we are intending to pair ‘Can vei la lauzeta’ and ‘La dousa votz’. We may also include one or more tunes by Marcabru.

Staying in Aquitaine, we have been investigating the rich repertoire of religious polyphony from the region. We are working on ‘Lux refulget’, an example of the new style of florid organum where the melody is at times maintained in slow held notes in the tenor and decorated by fluid and lively melismas in the upper voice. We are using Paris ms. lat. 3719, one of the manuscripts closely associated with the abbey of St Martial in the Limoges.

We are really pleased to be including some Sicilian material. The Norman kingdom of Sicily was associated with the Angevins through the marriage of Henry and Eleanor’s daughter Joanna to King William II. Joanna spent her earliest years at the abbey of Fontevraud with her brother John, her near contemporary. King William died unexpectedly and young, and Joanna was taken prisoner by the new king Tancred, who had seized the throne in default of any clear male heir. She was rescued from this ignominious state by the arrival of her elder brother Richard, now king of England, and went on to accompany him on his crusade to the Holy Land.

The fabulously rich kingdom of Sicily was a vibrant mixture of traditions – Norman, Byzantine, Saracen, and three books of music from the Norman Sicilian church are extant in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid; they contain much liturgical music and also more informal songs of praise and celebration. We include several of these in Magna Melodia. For all the cultural diversity of Sicily, this church music can be shown to derive clearly from the practices of the church back in Normandy and northern France. Indeed, some pieces, like Orientis Partibus, are also known from later northern French sources.

This Sicilian link thus returns us back to northern France. The trouvère tradition is not so strongly linked to the Angevins as is that of the troubadours, but King Richard himself wrote in French as a trouvère and we will certainly include his plaintive ‘Ja nus hons pris’, alongside the roughly contemporaneous anonymous crusade song ‘Parti de mal’, which survives appended to a work dedicated to Henry II. This song, which was perhaps written by someone working in the royal Chancery, appears to reference the king and his sons:

“my good lords whom I have loved so much that I almost forgot God!”

Other trouvère material to be featured may include instrumental versions of anonymous pastourelles. Staying in northern France we intend also to include a selection of melodies from the Ludus Danielis, the play of Daniel originating at Beauvais in – it is thought – the late twelfth century.

Which leaves us finally, and necessarily, in England. We aim to include here too both music of the church and secular music. For the former, we have been working on the polyphonic Verbum patris humanatur, a lively new year celebratory song. It’s important to realise that for secular music the Anglo-Norman and Angevin aristocracy of England would have been enjoying the repertoire of the troubadours and trouvères, just like their continental cousins but, that said, there is also some music extant in English. We will certainly feature ‘Miri it is’, and are also working on ‘Man mei long him lives wene’ and ‘Foweles in the frith’, although this last may take us too far out of our time frame.

So, as you can see, the programme is still somewhat up for grabs, but we think that it is shaping up well and we are very much looking forward to presenting this broad sweep of music from the time of England’s Angevin kings. This really was the age of magnificent melody, whether in the monophonic song or in the excitingly blended lines of polyphony. We aim to bring these melodies to life with a range of contemporary instrumentation and show what a wonderful musical world this was.

If you are interested in booking Trouvère for Magna Melodia do get in touch! We’ll be putting up some tasters of Magna Melodia over the next few months. And if you have any comments or suggestions for inclusions in the programme, we’d love to hear them.

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