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Re: [Authentic_SCA] Period music vs. creativity. (Was: Promoting Authenticity)

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  • stephen higa
    ... Actually, there is some stuff out there in familiar modes and melody-styles. In fact, I did a troubadour song at a High School demo and the students were
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 3, 2001
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      > That's a topic that I'm interested in -- but I come at it by a different
      > method.
      >
      > I'll be the first to admit that I have no great talent for period music
      > -- non-modern scales and songs do not "stick in my head" the way that
      > modern music (i.e., based on the Ionian ("Major scale") and Aolian
      > ("minor scale) modes) does.

      Actually, there is some stuff out there in familiar modes and melody-styles.
      In fact, I did a troubadour song at a High School demo and the students were
      surprised that it sounded so "modern" and one even asked me about the scale
      (it was Ionian) because he'd thought that medieval music would sound
      stranger.

      > And I'll also admit that, to me, most of the
      > medieval music that I have heard is jarring and discordant.

      Really? Maybe you've just come across the wrong recordings...

      > At the same time, I remember enough of my music history to know that what
      > extant secular music we have from the time dealt with popular themes in
      > popular styles -- and like modern times, "popular" could change rapidly.
      > (A fad is a fad, in period or modern times <g>.) So while I do not
      > perform period music, I try to make sure that the music I do perform is
      > "informed" by my research

      GOOD job. Unfortunately, there isn't much material out there in the way of
      medieval vocal techniques, so I must look to "popular" (i.e. folk) music
      when I make performance decisions. Of course, I try to separate different
      influences in the modern folk style to tweak it backwards in time...

      > I certainly avoid rock-and-roll ballads, and
      > I will _never_ sing "The Moose Song" at an event.

      ha ha, thank you for that. :)

      > On a (somewhat) more
      > authentic note, I am currently working on "redacting" some of the Child
      > ballads, and some of the Goliardic poems and music. I'm learning., and
      > want to learn more --

      Cool! Yes, the Child ballads are infinitely preferable to most of the songs
      I hear circulating in the SCA. :)

      > I'm currently looking at a tabor and pipe from Lark
      > In the Morming, and tentatively looking for a nylon-string "student"
      > harp.

      Depending on how expensive the student harp is, it might be worthwhile to
      just go ahead and purchase a medieval one (whichever style fits your target
      time period). :)

      > I guess that's what I mean by "reasonable versimilitude." I do not want
      > to restrict myself to only playing period repetoire, for to me that would
      > eliminate the "Creative" from SCA --

      Oooh, now there's an interesting topic that started up a lively debate on
      the SCA-Arts mailing list. In music, I believe that more creativity goes
      into performing medieval music than it goes into performing folk or filk
      songs. With medieval music, there's just so much guesswork...we don't even
      know for sure whether the melodies have been transcribed correctly. I find
      it most enjoyable to reconstruct a plausible medieval performing tradition
      from mere bones. It's also fun to reconstruct music that hasn't survived to
      the present day; for example, I've formulated melodies for Beowulf and a
      12th c. Hebrew muwashshah (sung poem) based on the evidence available, and
      let me tell you--that certainly did involve creativity!

      Even more creative still: creating your own songs in the medieval style (so
      they actually sound authentic)! It's easier to do them in a "folk" style,
      but medieval is harder.

      > and, to be perfectly honest, I do
      > not think that a person can do something they do not particularly enjoy,
      > and do it well.

      I have to agree with that. :) My problem is that I actually enjoy medieval
      music--it's one of my favorite genres.

      > At the same time, I want what I play to be enjoyable for
      > everyone -- both the "authenticity maven" and the "fun maven."

      Do you do mainly vocal or mainly instrumental stuff? If it's instrumental,
      I think that most if not all of your repertoire should be period (or
      constructed in a period style). This stuff can indeed be fun, just as fun
      as a lively non-medieval Irish fiddle tune! It will please both
      authenticity and fun mavens, in my opinion.

      However, if it's vocal, then that brings up some problems which I think I'll
      address in a new message under a different heading.

      > But I also know I'm rambling -- it's past my bedtime, and I'm about to
      > turn into a completely OOP pumpkin <g>.

      :) we wouldn't want THAT.

      Moshe
      --------------------------------------------------
      Qu'er non es grazitz lunhs mestiers
      menhs en cort que de belh saber
      de trobar -- qu'auzir e vezer
      hi vol hom mais captenhs leugiers
      e critz mesclatz ab dezonor.

      --Guiraut Riquier, 1292
    • Justin Eiler
      On Sat, 03 Mar 2001 00:14:50 -0800 stephen higa ... Yes, some is in modern scales -- and I have done a song or two in Dorian ( Riddles Wisely
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 3, 2001
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        On Sat, 03 Mar 2001 00:14:50 -0800 "stephen higa"
        <mitsuo@...> writes:
        > >
        > > I'll be the first to admit that I have no great talent for
        > > period music -- non-modern scales and songs do not
        > > "stick in my head" the way that modern music (i.e.,
        > > based on the Ionian ("Major scale") and Aolian
        > > ("minor scale) modes) does.
        >
        > Actually, there is some stuff out there in familiar modes
        > and melody-styles. In fact, I did a troubadour song at a
        > High School demo and the students were surprised that
        > it sounded so "modern" and one even asked me about
        > the scale (it was Ionian) because he'd thought that
        > medieval music would sound stranger.

        <nods> Yes, some is in "modern" scales -- and I have done a song or two
        in Dorian ("Riddles Wisely Expounded" from D'Urfey, and "Twa Corbies" to
        the tune of "Al A'larch" -- both of them OOP, but both a lot of fun). I
        guess the problem is that Dorian, to me, sounds spooky -- it works great
        for "Twa Corbies", but did not, to my mind, "fit" the emotional mood of
        "Riddles."

        Side note: what specific song did you sing? (And is sheet music
        available. More sheet music! <pant, pant, drool, drool>

        > > And I'll also admit that, to me, most of the
        > > medieval music that I have heard is jarring and discordant.
        >
        > Really? Maybe you've just come across the wrong recordings...

        It's entirely possible. And it also must be noted that I play "middle
        period" -- _Walla Puria_ during the reign of Llewellyn the Great (Wales,
        specifically 1200-1205 c.e.). I'm also looking at the Goliards and the
        Troubadors / Trouveres of that time period, as this is music that would
        (reasonably) have been heard by a relatively well-traveled _bardd_ of
        that time.

        > > I certainly avoid rock-and-roll ballads, and
        > > I will _never_ sing "The Moose Song" at an event.
        >
        > ha ha, thank you for that. :)

        However, I said nothing about e-mail lists.... <evil snicker>

        And that's the other side of things -- I have to admit that I also love
        "SCA Filk." True, it's more appropriate for revels than the "catual"
        event, but I will admit that some rogue who looks suspiciously like me
        has been seen at revels singing "Cold Beer" and "The Ball of Balyknure."
        (But it wasn't me -- it was my evil twin Skippy. <g>)

        > Depending on how expensive the student harp is, it might
        > be worthwhile to just go ahead and purchase a medieval
        > one (whichever style fits your target time period). :)

        I had considered that -- but I am also interested in playing that same
        harp in other venues (I incorporate music in my religious activities, and
        as I said, I filk). True, "sharping levers" are not period, but some of
        the other music that I'm going to be playing requires that kind of
        flexibility. (Plus which, I have no clue whatsoever what changes the harp
        went through in history -- well, I am moderately sure that the strings
        weren't nylon, but you know what I mean <g>.)

        I've seen good "student harps" for about $300-500 USD.

        > > I guess that's what I mean by "reasonable versimilitude." I
        > > do not want to restrict myself to only playing period repetoire,
        > > for to me that would eliminate the "Creative" from SCA --
        >
        > Oooh, now there's an interesting topic that started up a lively
        > debate on the SCA-Arts mailing list. In music, I believe that
        > more creativity goes into performing medieval music than it
        > goes into performing folk or filk songs.
        <snip>
        > Do you do mainly vocal or mainly instrumental stuff?

        Almost entirely vocal -- the only instrument I have any practice with is
        the modern guitar, though I have also been experimenting with a friend's
        harp of late.

        I have more comments, but I'll add them to the "Languages" thread later.


        Justin W. Eiler -- "Veritas Versus Mundi"
        taliesin_o <AT> juno.com

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