Saturday morning quote #2:
For the second in our series of Saturday morning quotes, we offer this bit of advice on voice and volume, excerpted in a roundabout way from Andreas Vogelsang’s Musicae active micrologus (Leipzig, 1517).
John Dowland translated the book into English and gave it the title, Andreas Ornithoparcus His Micrologus or Introduction: containing The Art of Singing (London, 1609). The quote is number seven of the section called Of the Ten precepts necessary for every Singer:
Let a singer take heed, lest he begin too loud, braying like an Ass, or when he hath begun with an uneven height, disgrace the song. For God is not pleased with loud cryes, but with lovely sounds; it is not (saith our Erasmus) the noise of the lips, but the ardent desire of the Heart, which like the loudest voice doth pierce Gods ears. Moses spake not, yet heard these words, Why dost thou cry unto me? But why the Saxons, and those that dwell upon the Baltic coast, should so delight in such clamouring, there is no reason but either because they have a deaf God, or because they think he is gone to the South side of Heaven, and therefore cannot so easily hear both the Easterlings, and the Southerlings.
We feel this offers an amusing hint to singers on the idea of balance and volume, both in the context of singing with the lute and, importantly, in ensemble from the choir loft.