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Saturday morning quotes 4.34: A New Year’s Gift

January 3, 2015

Well, if I be served such another trick,
I’ll have my brains ta’en out and buttered, and give
them to a dog for a new-year’s gift…

– Falstaff, Merry Wives of Windsor, III:v

We would like to propose a hearty toast to celebrate the backside of Anno Domini 2014, a year in which we seem to have been subjected to every trick in the book, and then some. One doesn’t like to complain, so instead we’ll write a bit about the tradition of the New Year’s Gift.

Our tradition of celebrating the new year as a logical change of calendar date is rather a newish trend.  Formerly, the new year followed the church calendar and was celebrated on the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th or Lady Day).  In Elizabethan times, the new year was an opportunity for the lesser sort of individual to offer gifts to the upper crust, in hopes of a kinder and more lenient overlord.  It was also an opportunity for courtiers to outdo one another in presenting lavish gifts to Bess Herself.  Instead of celebrating the new year as we do today, the calendar date of January 1st was just another of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

For our part, we are sick and tired of the old year and, to celebrate the hope of better times ahead, we offer our lute-playing friends two versions of a New Year’s Gift by Anthony Holborne.

  1. Christopher Barker permalink

    My wish for the new year would be to have those two pieces in modern guitar tablature. I’m just a dumb cluck who never learned to read alpha-beta tablature (or whatever you call it). Nevertheless I wish you and Donna a Grand Happy New Year. Here I sit with my guitar’s third string tuned to F#,

    • Rainer aus dem Spring permalink

      This is called French tablature.
      I can send “Spanish” or “Milan” tablature whcih is the same as modern guitar tablature.

      Just send me your email address.


      • Thanks. I’ll take this opportunity to mention that Rainer is the specialist where Holborne is concerned, and his two-volume edition of the complete works for lute and bandora is available from the Lute Society via this link to their publications page:

        Anthony Holborne, Music for Lute and Bandora for 6 to 9-course lutes (mostly playable on 6 or 7-course lutes), transcribed and edited in two volumes by Rainer aus dem Spring. Holborne is the second best-represented composer in the sources after John Dowland: volume 1 (218 pages) contains 58 lute solos, plus variant versions, 19 bandora solos, 2 lute songs, 10 appendix items; volume 2 (148 pages) contains full critical commentary, with variant bars fully written out in tablature. ISBN 0 905655 20 6.

        Rainer is noted worldwide as the editor of lute music who makes the fewest errors.


      • Christopher Barker permalink


        Thank you so much. I have looked at some of Luis Milan’s tablatures before. I look forward to hearing from you. HAPPY NEW YEAR.


    • Thanks for the suggestion, Chris. It seems I will have a little time on my hands in the next few weeks so I will make a guitar transcription for you. Meanwhile, you might try learning the French tablature notation, which opens the door to a wealth of original lute music. Contrary to current thought, lute tablature was developed as a condensed score notation and is by no means a simplification of the music. To play musically from lute (or keyboard) tablature demands a thorough understanding of polyphonic music.


      • Rainer aus dem Spring permalink

        Once again: I can send guitar tabs of both versions.

        Send me your e-mail address to Rainer xxx.

        Regarding a 3rd edition of my Holborne: I started working on it several years ago and have collected lots of new information and even one or two more versions of one or two pieces.

        Unfortunately, I been very sick for some time now and currently I cannot say if/when it will be finished.


        As far as I know nobody ever found any error in the music 🙂

      • Christopher Barker permalink

        Ron and Donna,

        My tablature laziness is about to come to a screeching halt. Charles Mokotoff’s 8 course Papazian concert – or Hauser style – lute is about to fall into my hands. Since it already has a bridge saddle and fixed frets I’m going to put planetary geared pegs on it. Then I can really horrify the lute world. I’m just an old guitar dilettante, and after years of searching I can find no one in this 3,000,000+ city, Dallas, Texas, who knows anything about the traditional lute.

        I put geared pegs on my flamenco guitar, and they are wonderful. I will put 12 of them on my vihuela. The vihuela has a double chanter so all 12 pegs will be used.

        Ranier is sending me Luis Milan style tablature for Holborne’s the New Year’s Gift.

        My old teacher, Eddie Freeman, always said “When your fingers get sore play some more”. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

        I can’t horrify traditional lutenists forever though… Shortly I will have overstepped my allotted three score and ten by three.

        I too am praying for a better MMXV. Pax vobiscum,


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