Down in the dumps
This is a short bonus post for all the lute players out there who faithfully visit our blog every week. We have a broad range of interests and topics that sometimes stray fairly far afield from the world of the lute, so bringing things back down to the topic of interest is in order from time to time.
And what is the primary topic of interest for lute players? Free music, of course.
Ed Durbrow asked a question on the lute list about the piece titled ‘Dump philli’ from the large manuscript of lute tablature housed in Archbishop Marsh’s Library, Dublin, the The Marsh Lute Book, c.1595. A facsimile, published by Boethius Press but likely in short supply, is still available in the US from Old Manuscripts & Incunabula.
The lute solo, which most certainly has nothing to do with Philip van Wilder, is one of the more popular sets of variations found in the Marsh manuscript and the question had to do with the obvious missing bars of music toward the end of the variations. The missing music interrupts the regular pattern of the tonic – dominant ground and, up until now, performers have been comfortable playing it with with the missing music, pursuing the ground like a runaway wheelbarrow careening downhill and describing the gap as a quaint respite from the sameness of the ground. But a ground is a ground, and mistakes in copying happen. This one needs to be fixed.
What is a dump? Good question. John Ward wrote a characteristically excellent article on the subject long ago, The “Dolfull Domps”, (Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 4, No. 2. (Summer, 1951), pp. 111-121) and Christopher Goodwin published new insights in the article, “What is a dump?” in The Lute (Volume 42, 2002). We think the archaic term describes a reverie of sorts.
There are probably a few edited versions of the lute tablature out in the world, and our online friend, Wolfgang Wiehe, writes to say he has contributed a reconstructed version that exists on Sarge Gerbode’s page of fronimo scores. By way of a bonus post today, we add to the confusion by making available Ron’s reconstructed version of the piece, originally published circa 2000 in the Lute Society of America Quarterly. The edited version is legibly and charmingly hand-written and, as always, formatted to fit on two pages for ease of performance.
You can access it here.
UPDATE May 2016: Links to our former website archive are disabled. If readers are interested in a piece mentioned in the essay above, feel free to write to us using the contact button at the head of the page and we will be happy to send the piece.