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Saturday morning quotes #50: Entrée

May 4, 2012

Today’s quotes will serve as an entrée of sorts as we plan the menu for our next recording and also revisit our roots as a duo for voice and lute.   As we enter the final stages of recording music from Pilgrimes Solace (1612), John Dowland’s last book of songs, necessity dictates that we look ahead to our next project, which we do with a happy anticipation and a certain amount of relish.

First, 2013 will mark our 10th anniversary as a duo for voice and lute, a cause to celebrate in and of itself.  Next, we are quite pleased to be revisiting the first music we performed as a duo, and some of our favorite music ever, airs de cour and lute solos from the early 17th century France.  Last but not least, since we are in the earliest planning stages of the project, we look forward to using our blog as a format to share the process with our readers.  This is a fantastic opportunity for recording artists to communicate the nuts and bolts of the entire process of research, selection, editing, rehearsal, refinement and recording, making one muse that perhaps the internet is worth the trouble after all.

We’ll begin by offering a glimpse of our research process, taking this opportunity to feature quotes from another living scholar whose work we respect.  And we will end our post by announcing publication of a new performing edition from Mignarda Editions.

“The precise and dance-like rhythms of the French lute repertory are a constant reminder of the link between the lutenist’s art and the dance.”

– David J. Buch: “The Influence of the Ballet de Cour in the Genesis of the French Baroque Suite”, Acta Musicologica, Vol. 57, 1985, p. 97

David J. Buch is, among other things, a specialist in French dance music of the 17th century.  His study of the instrumental music of the ballet de cour, and its interlocking relationship with the contemporary repertory for the lute, paints a very clear picture of the importance of dance rhythms and a steady pulse when performing this music.  Buch demonstrated that music from Robert Ballard’s lute books (1611 and 1614) were a showcase of the arranger’s art, and that Ballard’s writing for the lute drew upon familiar dance tunes of the day that were clothed in an elegant and expressive garb that fit the instrument like a well-tailored suit.

Most importantly for performers, Buch showed us clear evidence that, no matter how airy and atmospheric the music may seem, dance forms for the lute should be performed with a rock-steady pulse.  Further, he pointed out the fallacy of using the term style brisé, a modern term used to describe the arpeggiated style of divisions for the lute:

From the evidence given one may conclude that the terms style brisé and style luthé are modern ones and have little to do with the terms brisé and  luthé as they were used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

– “Style brisé, Style luthé,” and the “Choses luthées” : David J. Buch : The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 1 (1985), p. 66

Taking to heart the hints offered by David J. Buch and other scholars, we delve again into the dance music for solo lute and airs de cour from 17th century France, since much of the vocal music popular at the time was drawn from documented performances of ballet de cour.

We make good on our promise to share some of the results of our research into this repertory by announcing publication of Angélique, a new performing edition of solo lute music from the period by two of the best composers working within this danceable idiom.  With our specialization in music for voice and lute, Angélique is our first publication of historical music for solo lute, and is in fact a product of years of work spent editing and performing this music.  The performing edition contains 70 pages of music, a selection of 65 pieces with useful background information on the composers and the music.

Donna has made a short video  (click to view) that says it all.


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