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Re: [Authentic_SCA] Vocal music and Languages

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  • Ariane Helou
    Absolutely and unequivocably, perform a piece in its original language. I feel the same way about modern music - I have a libretto for Mozart s Don
    Message 1 of 26 , Mar 2, 2001
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      Absolutely and unequivocably, perform a piece in its original language. I
      feel the same way about modern music - I have a libretto for Mozart's "Don
      Giovanni," with a really horrid (stiff, contrived, flowery) translation of
      the arias and recitatives into English. It totally doesn't work! I
      strongly agree with Moshe, that translation of sung material entirely does
      away with the original rhythm and sound. But a really excellent performer
      can interpret the music and carry across the full sense of emotion without
      changing the words. And then, even if people can't fully comprehend the
      lyrics, they will understand the _sense_ of the song, which is fully as
      important. He hasn't fully converted me to using an Elizabethan accent,
      but I do sing late English repertoire with an American accent, which is
      closer to the Elizabethan pronunciation than modern British is. On the
      other hand, I'm familiar with classical, medieval, and liturgical
      pronunciation of Latin, and I use each as the occasion demands. But even
      if your pronunciation isn't perfect, I think everyone would appreciate the
      effort and be favorably impressed by a foreign-language piece. IMO,
      keeping the song in its original language and accompanying it with an
      introduction/summary/translation (depends on the type of the piece and the
      length) is the best technique. And you may be surprised at how well your
      audience picks up on what's being sung. I haven't had more than
      elementary-school Spanish, and yet I've never missed a word of Moshe's
      stunning rendition of "El Cid." The two of us often do a drinking song
      from the Carmina Burana, which is in medieval Latin, and it's never failed
      to be a hit among our College and at arts competitions. (Ok, well, one art
      competition, but still ;) I'm the only one in the group who reads Latin,
      and yet with a few expressions and gestures, everyone understood what the
      song was about. Words like "femine," "penetrans," and "coitum" (!), as
      well as the numerous references to Bacchus and Venus, are difficult to
      misinterpret ;)
      All the same, I appreciate immensely the efforts of anyone who tries to be
      even a little authentic in their music! What really bugs me is refusal to
      even attempt it, like this guy who once wandered into our bardic circle and
      said, "I don't play period music, that stuff's boring." But he was a good
      musician, and it's a pity he wasn't (then) interested in trying new styles
      of music-making. I often think of the SCA as a good arena to perform music
      that in the "mundane" world doesn't get that much attention - I play
      recorder and sing in an early music ensemble at school, but for us, "early"
      is 16th-18th century. Anything earlier is usually disregarded as far as
      performance is concerned. But there are more adventurous professional
      groups with a medieval repertoire; there are some truly excellent
      recordings out there of period music which is not the least bit jarred and
      discordant. My personal favorite group is the Boston Camerata; they're
      done a superb Carmina Burana, gorgeous Cantigas de Santa Maria, and a truly
      lovely Elizabethan album featuring works by Dowland, Campion, Byrd, Morley,
      et al. The Baltimore Consort is also excellent (they have this great CD
      called "The Art of the Bawdy Song" - barely any of it is period, but it's
      tons of fun to listen to).
      Music is one of my favorite topics and I could go on forever - I think I've
      gotten a little carried away, my apologies to you all :)
      And to add to Moshe's list of questions - do any of you have a favorite
      period piece (or several) that you like to perform, or hear performed?

      Vittoria

      At 08:33 AM 3/3/01 , you wrote:
      >Okay, about medieval vocal music in the SCA.
      >
      >The problem I encounter is that modern people don't tend to understand
      >medieval languages, obviously. So, in performing a medieval vocal piece,
      >there is a difficult choice to be made: sing it in translation and
      >sacrifice the beautiful sounds of the original tongue, or sing it in the
      >original language and sacrifice comprehension? Furthermore, the sounds of
      >the language affect the vocal style. For example, when performing
      >Elizabethan music, using historical pronunciation eases problems of vocal
      >interpretation. It is difficult to sing Spanish music in the proper style
      >when using English phonetics, and Arabic style all but disappears when
      >replaced with other tongues. Rhythms will sometimes be thrown off because
      >of the foreign phonetics.
      >
      >To illustrate this point, try singing in a folksy "country music" style or
      >an African-American spiritual style without using the accents. In fact,
      >replace it with a different accent, such as British, or Southern
      >Californian. It just doesn't work very well, does it? Now imagine that
      >you're replacing it with French, or Chinese, or Italian...
      >
      >
      >So, my question unto the good gentles of this list:
      >
      >Which would you prefer?
      >
      >--The song in its original language, with historical pronunciation (so the
      >listener feels as if he's actually listening to a medieval performer)
      >
      >--The song in a singable translation (so that the listener feels as if he's
      >actually a medieval person listening to a medieval performer singing in his
      >own tongue)
      >
      >--The song in original language, prefaced with summary in a period fashion,
      >such as "the following song is in a language which might not be familiar to
      >many of you; it is about..." as opposed to "I'm going to do this song in
      >[Old English, Middle French, Medieval Latin, 15th c. Italian, &c.], so
      >here's a summary:..."
      >
      >--The song in its original language, followed or prefaced with full
      >translation
      >
      >--Any other ideas?...
      >
      >
      >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
      >
      >
      >This is the Authentic SCA eGroup
      >To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
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      >
      >
      >
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    • stephen higa
      Okay, about medieval vocal music in the SCA. The problem I encounter is that modern people don t tend to understand medieval languages, obviously. So, in
      Message 2 of 26 , Mar 3, 2001
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        Okay, about medieval vocal music in the SCA.

        The problem I encounter is that modern people don't tend to understand
        medieval languages, obviously. So, in performing a medieval vocal piece,
        there is a difficult choice to be made: sing it in translation and
        sacrifice the beautiful sounds of the original tongue, or sing it in the
        original language and sacrifice comprehension? Furthermore, the sounds of
        the language affect the vocal style. For example, when performing
        Elizabethan music, using historical pronunciation eases problems of vocal
        interpretation. It is difficult to sing Spanish music in the proper style
        when using English phonetics, and Arabic style all but disappears when
        replaced with other tongues. Rhythms will sometimes be thrown off because
        of the foreign phonetics.

        To illustrate this point, try singing in a folksy "country music" style or
        an African-American spiritual style without using the accents. In fact,
        replace it with a different accent, such as British, or Southern
        Californian. It just doesn't work very well, does it? Now imagine that
        you're replacing it with French, or Chinese, or Italian...


        So, my question unto the good gentles of this list:

        Which would you prefer?

        --The song in its original language, with historical pronunciation (so the
        listener feels as if he's actually listening to a medieval performer)

        --The song in a singable translation (so that the listener feels as if he's
        actually a medieval person listening to a medieval performer singing in his
        own tongue)

        --The song in original language, prefaced with summary in a period fashion,
        such as "the following song is in a language which might not be familiar to
        many of you; it is about..." as opposed to "I'm going to do this song in
        [Old English, Middle French, Medieval Latin, 15th c. Italian, &c.], so
        here's a summary:..."

        --The song in its original language, followed or prefaced with full
        translation

        --Any other ideas?...


        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
      • Brighid the-short-blonde-Scot
        ... Absolutely and unequivocably, perform a piece in its original language. I feel the same way about modern music - I have a libretto for Mozart s Don
        Message 3 of 26 , Mar 3, 2001
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          >>
          Absolutely and unequivocably, perform a piece in its original language.  I
          feel the same way about modern music - I have a libretto for Mozart's "Don
          Giovanni," with a really horrid (stiff, contrived, flowery) translation of
          the arias and recitatives into English.  It totally doesn't work!  I
          strongly agree with Moshe, that translation of sung material entirely does
          away with the original rhythm and sound.  But a really excellent performer
          can interpret the music and carry across the full sense of emotion without
          changing the words.  And then, even if people can't fully comprehend the
          lyrics, they will understand the _sense_ of the song, which is fully as
          important. 
          >>
           
          I must fully agree. I've read "The Illiad" many times, and it's a great story. But I finally had a friend (Doctor/Professor of Classical Civ) recite a good chunk of the first book to me in its original Greek language with the rythmn of its dactyllic hexameter, and well, I was enamored. I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was clearly something very epic by her body language, facial expressions, and the way the rythmn worked. It was inspiring.
           
          Brighid
           
        • Justin Eiler
          On Sat, 03 Mar 2001 00:33:28 -0800 stephen higa ... Well, it actually sepends on the song, and on which facet of the song I want to emphasize. Examples
          Message 4 of 26 , Mar 3, 2001
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            On Sat, 03 Mar 2001 00:33:28 -0800 "stephen higa" <mitsuo@...> writes:
            > So, my question unto the good gentles of this list:
            >
            >
            Which would you prefer?
            Well, it actually sepends on the song, and on which facet of the song I want to emphasize. Examples below....

            > --The song in its original language, with historical
            > pronunciation (so the listener feels as if he's actually
            > listening to a medieval performer)
            I would use this more frequently if I were to emphasise the _music_ -- i.e. a madrigal choir, Pastourales; or choral pieces. Probably also with Cantatas, certain caroles ("The Boar's Head Carole", "I Saw Three Ships...", or "A'Wassailing", to name a few), and perhaps a few specific songs, such as _Ich Was Ein Chint_, where the language was part of the song itself. (For those unfamiliar with the song, _Ich Was Ein Chint_ (Carmina Burana #185) is a bit unusual -- on each versem the first and third lines are German, the second and fourth are Latin. Some people think this was written by a Goliardic student who was showing off his language skills <g>.) I would probably also tend to use this more for "sacred" than "secular" music.

            > --The song in a singable translation (so that the
            > listener feels as if he's actually a medieval person
            > listening to a medieval performer singing in his
            > own tongue)
            And this I would use if I were emphasizing the _story_ -- the Agincourt Carole; Ballads/Ballades; many of the songs of the Trouveres and the Goliards; etc. If I had to universally pick one alternative and stick with it, this is my preference.

            > --The song in original language, prefaced with
            > summary in a period fashion, such as "the following
            > song is in a language which might not be familiar to
            > many of you;  it is about..." as opposed to "I'm going
            > to do this song in [Old English, Middle French,
            > Medieval Latin, 15th c. Italian, &c.], so
            > here's a summary:..."
            >
            > --The song in its original language, followed or
            > prefaced with full translation
            And these I do NOT like. If I'm going to do a song -- either original language or translated -- and it does NOT stand up on its own without an introduction or translation, then I feel that I'm doing something wrong as a performer. (However, this is a pet peeve of mine, and a YMMV situation.) I might give a brief "in persona" introduction, such as "In my travels, I learned this tune in the city of [Where-ever]," and give the title, but beyond that the song stands or falls on its own merits.
             
            Part of my reasoning is this is that I am an entertainer -- both me personally, and "in persona." Entertainers then (England and Wales, early 13th century) were quite different from what they are now -- they were not the rascals, rogues, and "sturdy beggars" of Elizabethan times, but they were not exactly high on the social scale, unless they were nobly born. In Wales, they still got some measure of respect, but not the "hero worship" of our modern times.
             
            And I also have to look at it from the point of view of someone in the audience. I would find it somewhat distracting to sit through a summary translation, quite distracting to sit through a complete one -- and totally beyond the pale to endure a "modern-style" introduction.
             

            Justin W. Eiler  -- "Veritas Versus Mundi"
            taliesin_o <AT> juno.com
             
            NO SPAM: The author of this e-mail will never purchase any product or
            service that is advertised in unsolicited e-mail.
          • Bob Davis
            ... First choice. The Song of Roland sounds like garbage in English. The original language rings with the clash of battle, and English makes it sound soft
            Message 5 of 26 , Mar 4, 2001
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              stephen higa wrote:

              > Which would you prefer?
              >
              > --The song in its original language, with historical pronunciation (so the
              > listener feels as if he's actually listening to a medieval performer)

              First choice. The Song of Roland sounds like garbage in English. The
              original language rings with the clash of battle, and English makes it
              sound soft and wimpy.

              Moreover, as was stated in another post, much of the *music* of the
              piece can be lost; rhyme scheme, rhythm, and phrase structure WILL be
              lost if performed in translation. Especially if the translator is an
              idiot (most are), and pays no attention to the tone of the piece.

              > --The song in a singable translation (so that the listener feels as if he's
              > actually a medieval person listening to a medieval performer singing in his
              > own tongue)

              If the translation fits the music and makes musical sense, go for it.
              If musicality is lost, you might as well recite issue #327 of "Archie."

              Otherwise, familiarise yourself with the written translation of the real
              words, then *perform* the original. Don't just recite the words. ACT.
              If you approach a troubadour chanson with the same emotion Michael
              Crawford uses -- in Phantom of the Opera, when Erik overhears Christine
              and Raoul planning their escape (lovely man, Lloyd-Weber) -- you WILL
              hook your audience, every time, and it won't matter if you're singing in
              a language you just made up on the spot.

              > --The song in original language, prefaced with summary in a period fashion,
              > such as "the following song is in a language which might not be familiar to
              > many of you; it is about..." as opposed to "I'm going to do this song in
              > [Old English, Middle French, Medieval Latin, 15th c. Italian, &c.], so
              > here's a summary:..."

              See my statement above. You're a musician. Perform. If you can't
              perform, practice until you can.

              If there's one thing I cannot abide, it's musicians with no confidence.
              Practice breeds confidence. If you're not confident, work at acquiring
              confidence through practice. It CAN be done. There are too many
              wonderful musicians around the SCA with severe performance anxiety, for
              which the only remedy is to PERFORM. If you're too afraid of people to
              perform, turn to Trent Reznor. He's the same way. Don't try to perform
              music that was meant to be performed by a live person in front of other
              live people, because you'll hurt yourself trying to get through your own
              psychological issues. Go back to the garage.

              The above may sound a little harsh. It's intended to be, because I
              fervently believe in it. I apologise if I've offended anyone's
              sensitivities, he said, bashfully.

              Pax et bonum,

              -Robert fitz Thomas
            • Ariane Helou
              Message 6 of 26 , Mar 4, 2001
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                Moshe wrote:

                Unfortunately, I also would like to make it evident that the piece will be a period piece (and not just some random foreign folk song), but one can't very well say "this is a 13th c. praise song to the Virgen Mary" or "this a 12th c. Arabic muwashshah from Al-Andalus."  Any ideas?

                well, you don't have to say 12th or 13th century - you could name the ruler or an important historical event.  For example, "Here's a song written just before the Battle of Agincourt," or something.  Or maybe you could introduce the Cantigas de Santa Maria as "A collection of songs in praise of the Virgin Mary commissioned by King Alfonso, etc," or for Carmina Burana, "a song written by a bunch of students at a German monastery..." you get the idea :)  That way you still let them know it's from a specific period, but you can do it in a non-modern fashion.

                Vittoria
              • Ariane Helou
                ... Yeah, they are quite impressive. So I just uploaded to the files section a track from their Carmina Burana album - it s Ich was ein chint, the
                Message 7 of 26 , Mar 4, 2001
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                  Moshe wrote:

                  >Ah, the Boston Camerata folks are my pantheon! Anne Azema (the main female
                  >vocalist) is a GODDESS. I'm not kidding, check out their recordings. Even
                  >if they're doing non-period music (like 19th c. American folk hymns and
                  >spirituals, or Shaker songs) the performances are top-notch, as is the
                  >research. Joel Cohen (the director) also directs another ensemble, Camerata
                  >Mediterranea, dedicated to the exploration of the early Mediterranean
                  >repertoire.

                  Yeah, they are quite impressive. So I just uploaded to the files section a
                  track from their Carmina Burana album - it's "Ich was ein chint," the
                  half-German-half-Latin ballad that Justin mentioned recently...and of
                  course, sung by Anne Azema, Moshe's goddess ;) She really does have a
                  marvelous voice, perfectly suited to the early music repertoire.
                  And for the sake of argument...let's see if those unfamiliar with this song
                  can guess the meaning of it, without a full translation. I realize this is
                  made difficult since the visual aspect of a live performance is missing,
                  but Azema's voice is expressive as well as beautiful, and the sense of the
                  ballad should come across.
                  And by the way, I love the photos you've all submitted! They're really
                  great -- very impressive garb, illuminations, everything...those kinds of
                  things remind me why the SCA is so cool! :)

                  Vittoria

                  PS Just a warning, the mp3 file is pretty slow to download...totally worth
                  it, though.
                • stephen higa
                  ... Oh, that s another good point. The DRAMA of the original language. Like Beowulf in Old English as opposed to modern English. Moshe ... Qu er non es
                  Message 8 of 26 , Mar 5, 2001
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                    > First choice. The Song of Roland sounds like garbage in English. The
                    > original language rings with the clash of battle, and English makes it
                    > sound soft and wimpy.

                    Oh, that's another good point. The DRAMA of the original language. Like
                    Beowulf in Old English as opposed to modern English.


                    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
                  • stephen higa
                    ... Wow, how can I argue with that? :) ... That is my hope, but one can sometimes get bored with a foreign-language song if it s longer than a few verses and
                    Message 9 of 26 , Mar 5, 2001
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                      > Absolutely and unequivocably, perform a piece in its original language.

                      Wow, how can I argue with that? :)

                      > But a really excellent performer
                      > can interpret the music and carry across the full sense of emotion without
                      > changing the words. And then, even if people can't fully comprehend the
                      > lyrics, they will understand the _sense_ of the song, which is fully as
                      > important.

                      That is my hope, but one can sometimes get bored with a foreign-language
                      song if it's longer than a few verses and the emotion varies little
                      throughout. That's why I love doing The Poema de Mio Çid (El Cid) and other
                      epics like Beowulf because there are so many varying emotions one can play
                      on. Ha ha, you should've heard me screaming "denme mis espadas" (give me
                      back my swords!)...I'm sure all adjacent camps were wondering "what on
                      earth?" ;)

                      > He hasn't fully converted me to using an Elizabethan accent,

                      Soon, my pretty... ;)

                      > And you may be surprised at how well your
                      > audience picks up on what's being sung.

                      Yes, Romance language pieces are ideal because words can be recognized by
                      the audience when properly emoted...

                      > I haven't had more than
                      > elementary-school Spanish, and yet I've never missed a word of Moshe's
                      > stunning rendition of "El Cid."

                      Really? Not a word? ;)

                      > The two of us often do a drinking song
                      > from the Carmina Burana, which is in medieval Latin, and it's never failed
                      > to be a hit among our College and at arts competitions.

                      Oh yes, I'd forgotten about that! I suppose it's because we sing it so
                      lasciviously that people can't help but be amused that period songs can be
                      so interesting. :)

                      > All the same, I appreciate immensely the efforts of anyone who tries to be
                      > even a little authentic in their music! What really bugs me is refusal to
                      > even attempt it, like this guy who once wandered into our bardic circle and
                      > said, "I don't play period music, that stuff's boring."

                      Honestly, though, that was the incident that started my crusade for period
                      music.

                      > My personal favorite group is the Boston Camerata; they're
                      > done a superb Carmina Burana, gorgeous Cantigas de Santa Maria, and a truly
                      > lovely Elizabethan album featuring works by Dowland, Campion, Byrd, Morley,
                      > et al.

                      Ah, the Boston Camerata folks are my pantheon! Anne Azema (the main female
                      vocalist) is a GODDESS. I'm not kidding, check out their recordings. Even
                      if they're doing non-period music (like 19th c. American folk hymns and
                      spirituals, or Shaker songs) the performances are top-notch, as is the
                      research. Joel Cohen (the director) also directs another ensemble, Camerata
                      Mediterranea, dedicated to the exploration of the early Mediterranean
                      repertoire.

                      My favorite medieval music ensemble is Altramar. They have two excellent
                      programs of medieval tri-cultural Iberian music ("Iberian Garden"), and an
                      excellent album of medieval Celtic music ("Crossroads of the Celts"). the
                      liner notes are just as enjoyable as the music--they really do their
                      research and are incredibly intuitive in their performance choices. Let's
                      see, who else...Sinfonye and the Dufay Collective, Terra Nova Consort...


                      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
                    • stephen higa
                      ... or translated ... then I feel ... of mine, ... In my ... but beyond ... Ah, most of the time I do that in-persona introduction. Like once I said I heard
                      Message 10 of 26 , Mar 5, 2001
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                        Re: [Authentic_SCA] Vocal music and Languages

                        > And these I do NOT like. If I'm going to do a song -- either original language or translated
                        > -- and it does NOT stand up on its own without an introduction or translation, then I feel
                        > that I'm doing something wrong as a performer. (However, this is a pet peeve of mine,
                        > and a YMMV situation.) I might give a brief "in persona" introduction, such as "In my
                        > travels, I learned this tune in the city of [Where-ever]," and give the title, but beyond
                        > that the song stands or falls on its own merits.
                         
                        Ah, most of the time I do that in-persona introduction.  Like once I said "I heard this song from a minstrel when he spent the night in my patron's house on his way to Sarganza, and I enjoyed it so much that I hurried to the nearest scribe to have him take down the lyrics," and at the event today I performed a Cantiga de Santa Maria by prefacing it with "this is a Christian song in praise of Santa Maria.  I heard a Christian man sing this a few weeks ago as he sat across the street peeling radishes, and I was struck by how similar the melody was to our own melodies."  I suppose these are a little long as introductions, but I guess I like to get into my "medieval self" when doing them.  In fact, I used to introduce and finish off every song I did in 12th c. Spanish (with a greeting/explanation and some phrases of gratitude, respectively).  ;)  I don't do that any more, but it sure did help to get in the proper mode.  Hmm.  I don't know.

                        Unfortunately, I also would like to make it evident that the piece will be a period piece (and not just some random foreign folk song), but one can't very well say "this is a 13th c. praise song to the Virgen Mary" or "this a 12th c. Arabic muwashshah from Al-Andalus."  Any ideas?
                         
                        > And I also have to look at it from the point of view of someone in the audience. I would
                        > find it somewhat distracting to sit through a summary translation, quite distracting to
                        > sit through a complete one -- and totally beyond the pale to endure a "modern-style"
                        > introduction.
                         
                        Really?  Once this woman who had studied in Iceland or someplace and had learnt some folk ballads.  She performed a few for us in the original language, but prefaced it with a synopsis, including full translation of the chorus and explanation of the onomatopoeia (it was about a mischievous little sprite who disrupted a Sunday mass :)).  She had us sing along with the chorus and make the appropriate noises.  I personally enjoyed it much more than I probably would have had I not known what it was about.  :)  

                        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

                      • Kass McGann
                        ... I have a point to make though it has nothing to do with music. About a year ago, I judged an A&S competition that my friend was running. Enter in it was
                        Message 11 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                          > Oh, that's another good point. The DRAMA of the original language. Like
                          > Beowulf in Old English as opposed to modern English.

                          I have a point to make though it has nothing to do with music. About a year
                          ago, I judged an A&S competition that my friend was running. Enter in it
                          was a "10th century Irish poem" and she asked if I could judge it. I took
                          one look at it and said, "No. I can't. I would give it a terrible score
                          and I don't think you want that." "Why?" she asked. "Because it's in
                          modern English."

                          I do not believe that you can write a poem in the style of the 10th century
                          Irish in modern English. It simply doesn't work. You can't write a
                          Shakespearean sonnet in French because the iambic pentameter gets screwed
                          up. You can't write a Japanese tanka in English because you can't execute a
                          makura kotoba. And you can't write "in the style of 10th century Ireland"
                          in English either. You can't. It's like painting the Mona Lisa with poster
                          paint.

                          Her Laurel (who was sitting there too) was furious with me, but that is the
                          beginning of another story...

                          Kass
                        • L Joseph
                          ... Kass, you witnessed who won as the East Kingdom s Queen s Bards last month and with what material. I d dearly LOVE to see what sources they used to
                          Message 12 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                            --- Kass McGann <historian@...>
                            wrote:
                            > I do not believe that you can write a poem in the
                            > style of the 10th century
                            > Irish in modern English. It simply doesn't work.
                            > You can't write a
                            > Shakespearean sonnet in French because the iambic
                            > pentameter gets screwed
                            > up. You can't write a Japanese tanka in English
                            > because you can't execute a
                            > makura kotoba. And you can't write "in the style of
                            > 10th century Ireland"
                            > in English either. You can't. It's like painting
                            > the Mona Lisa with poster
                            > paint.

                            Kass, you witnessed who won as the East Kingdom's
                            Queen's Bards last month and with what material. I'd
                            dearly LOVE to see what sources they used to determine
                            that "Red Is The Rose" is period (to be fair, I didn't
                            see what their documentation was) and they outright
                            lied about singing it in organum, because that
                            harmonic structure would've made it sound extremely
                            alien to modern Western listeners.

                            Then there's Lady Ana, who writes period poetry in
                            Spanish AND English. Amazing.....

                            Guess I'd better get my kiester in gear and learn "Ja
                            Nus Hon Pris" like I've been meaning to do.

                            Jehanne de Wodeford, Rusted Woodlands, East

                            =====
                            "I do but sing because I must, And pipe but as the linnets sing." Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam."

                            __________________________________________________
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                          • Kass McGann
                            ... Amen sister! Bob was busy doing court business stuff and didn t get to hear them perform, and I am a rank amateur, but what they did didn t sound anything
                            Message 13 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                              > Kass, you witnessed who won as the East Kingdom's
                              > Queen's Bards last month and with what material. I'd
                              > dearly LOVE to see what sources they used to determine
                              > that "Red Is The Rose" is period (to be fair, I didn't
                              > see what their documentation was) and they outright
                              > lied about singing it in organum, because that
                              > harmonic structure would've made it sound extremely
                              > alien to modern Western listeners.

                              Amen sister! Bob was busy doing court business stuff and didn't get to hear
                              them perform, and I am a rank amateur, but what they did didn't sound
                              anything like the organum *I*'ve ever heard.

                              They were Ren Faire performers and the King and Queen aren't learned enough
                              to know that.

                              > Then there's Lady Ana, who writes period poetry in
                              > Spanish AND English. Amazing.....

                              Amen again! Personally, I think Ismenia was downright robbed... [for all
                              those who aren't in the East, Lady Ismenia Wysten is a wonderful storyteller
                              who was the only finalist in the Bardic Championships who didn't win]

                              > Guess I'd better get my kiester in gear and learn "Ja
                              > Nus Hon Pris" like I've been meaning to do.

                              You better! And as soon as I find out from Bob what that means, I'll be
                              sure to ride you about it... =)

                              Kass
                            • L Joseph
                              ... The King had enough sense to pick Mistress Dorigen. He tries. He really tries for a stick swinger. ... Agreed. Storytelling is not my metier, but she s
                              Message 14 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                                --- Kass McGann <historian@...>
                                wrote:
                                > Amen sister! Bob was busy doing court business
                                > stuff and didn't get to hear
                                > them perform, and I am a rank amateur, but what they
                                > did didn't sound
                                > anything like the organum *I*'ve ever heard.
                                >
                                > They were Ren Faire performers and the King and
                                > Queen aren't learned enough
                                > to know that.
                                The King had enough sense to pick Mistress Dorigen. He
                                tries. He really tries for a stick swinger.
                                >
                                > Amen again! Personally, I think Ismenia was
                                > downright robbed... [for all
                                > those who aren't in the East, Lady Ismenia Wysten is
                                > a wonderful storyteller
                                > who was the only finalist in the Bardic
                                > Championships who didn't win]
                                Agreed. Storytelling is not my metier, but she's
                                amazing.
                                >
                                > You better! And as soon as I find out from Bob what
                                > that means, I'll be sure to ride you about it... =)

                                On his way back from the crusade, Richard Lionheart
                                was captured and imprisoned by Leopold(?)of Austria.
                                "Ja nus hon pris" is the song he wrote complaining of
                                his plight. The melody is lovely and will be easy
                                enough to arrange for psaltery. Whether I can memorize
                                that much Old French (and pronounce it) will be the
                                test.

                                Jehanne de Wodeford, Rusted Woodlands, East

                                =====
                                "I do but sing because I must, And pipe but as the linnets sing." Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam."

                                __________________________________________________
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                                Get email at your own domain with Yahoo! Mail.
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                              • Ariane Helou
                                ... oh, wow! I actually hadn t thought about performing classical Latin as well as medieval...I m taking a class right now featuring the writings of Catullus,
                                Message 15 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                                  At 05:31 PM 3/6/01 , you wrote:
                                  I must fully agree. I've read "The Illiad" many times, and it's a great story. But I finally had a friend (Doctor/Professor of Classical Civ) recite a good chunk of the first book to me in its original Greek language with the rythmn of its dactyllic hexameter, and well, I was enamored. I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was clearly something very epic by her body language, facial expressions, and the way the rythmn worked. It was inspiring.
                                  >>>>
                                  A friend of mine in the East, Brighid, recites racy Latin poetry in the original language.  You don't have to understand Latin to... um...  "get the drift"...  <snicker>  When he heard her recite for the first time, one friend of hers responded, "I don't know what you said, but I KNOW it was dirty..."  She won the King's Bardic Championship two years ago with that stuff.  I love it!
                                   
                                  Kass

                                  oh, wow!  I actually hadn't thought about performing classical Latin as well as medieval...I'm taking a class right now featuring the writings of Catullus, whose poetry is beautiful and intricate and unbelievably raunchy.  Lots of good material there :)  And I agree that Homer is truly magical (even though I didn't think him anything but difficult and frustrating during my Greek midterm today!)  Quite frankly, the only reason I became a classics major is because I love the literature but it never sounds quite right in English; this way I can learn to read the original texts.  Likewise, the main reason I chose a late-period and well-educated persona was so that I freely use the mythology and literature which had only recently been re-discovered, for conversation, artwork, etc.  The works of "pagan" classical authors didn't have as much presence in the early medieval world, as far as I gather (though I could be totally wrong).  For example, if I likened Moshe to Apollo for his skill with music and poetry, he wouldn't have a clue (being from the 12th-century) what I was talking about.  And (back to the musical stuff!) the Florentine Camerata was active in the 1580's and 1590's inventing opera - their original idea was to model it after Greek drama.  They wanted to recreate the half-singing, half-speaking style they thought the Greeks had used to perform, and invented the recitative; then they added the arias so the audience would be entertained and musicians could show off.  Amateur musicians may have amused themselves with setting portions of Homer and Sophocles to music, rather than reciting them straight out.  Can anyone support/refute this?  I'm totally guessing about this :)

                                  Vittoria
                                • Kass McGann
                                  ... That s true, though I thought Dorigen mispoke too much to win. I thought Ismenia was robbed... ... All you had to do was look at that lot of Andre s
                                  Message 16 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                                    > > They were Ren Faire performers and the King and
                                    > > Queen aren't learned enough
                                    > > to know that.
                                    > The King had enough sense to pick Mistress Dorigen. He
                                    > tries. He really tries for a stick swinger.

                                    That's true, though I thought Dorigen mispoke too much to win. I thought
                                    Ismenia was robbed...

                                    > Agreed. Storytelling is not my metier, but she's
                                    > amazing.

                                    All you had to do was look at that lot of Andre's squires who competed to
                                    see that Ismenia is really a talented storyteller.

                                    Though I do give Andre's squires a gold star for doing something other than
                                    swinging a stick. I just wish I didn't have to sit through it. =)

                                    > On his way back from the crusade, Richard Lionheart
                                    > was captured and imprisoned by Leopold(?)of Austria.
                                    > "Ja nus hon pris" is the song he wrote complaining of
                                    > his plight. The melody is lovely and will be easy
                                    > enough to arrange for psaltery. Whether I can memorize
                                    > that much Old French (and pronounce it) will be the
                                    > test.

                                    Well then I want to hear it! =)

                                    Kass
                                  • L Joseph
                                    ... Yeah. Well, one of these days she ll get hers: she s too talented not to. ... Performing is frequently terrifying enough for those of us who profess to
                                    Message 17 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                                      --- Kass McGann <historian@...>
                                      wrote:
                                      > That's true, though I thought Dorigen mispoke too
                                      > much to win. I thought
                                      > Ismenia was robbed...
                                      Yeah. Well, one of these days she'll get hers: she's
                                      too talented not to.
                                      >
                                      > Though I do give Andre's squires a gold star for
                                      > doing something other than
                                      > swinging a stick. I just wish I didn't have to sit
                                      > through it. =)
                                      Performing is frequently terrifying enough for those
                                      of us who profess to enjoy it. They were under
                                      specific orders from His Majesty to go forth and be
                                      well rounded or else be in for a world of hurt. They
                                      did a lot better than I dared hope.
                                      >
                                      > Well then I want to hear it! =)
                                      One of these days. That's a promise. It's too
                                      beautiful a piece for me not to want to give it a
                                      shot.

                                      Jehanne

                                      =====
                                      "I do but sing because I must, And pipe but as the linnets sing." Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam."

                                      __________________________________________________
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                                      Get email at your own domain with Yahoo! Mail.
                                      http://personal.mail.yahoo.com/
                                    • Kass McGann
                                      ... One can only hope... and write letters to TRM... ;) ... You re right. Vivants for trying! ... Good. I m holding you to it now. Bob? You listening?
                                      Message 18 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                                        > Yeah. Well, one of these days she'll get hers: she's
                                        > too talented not to.

                                        One can only hope... and write letters to TRM... ;)

                                        > Performing is frequently terrifying enough for those
                                        > of us who profess to enjoy it. They were under
                                        > specific orders from His Majesty to go forth and be
                                        > well rounded or else be in for a world of hurt. They
                                        > did a lot better than I dared hope.

                                        You're right. Vivants for trying!

                                        > One of these days. That's a promise. It's too
                                        > beautiful a piece for me not to want to give it a
                                        > shot.

                                        Good. I'm holding you to it now. Bob? You listening? Remember this!

                                        Kass
                                      • Kass McGann
                                        I must fully agree. I ve read The Illiad many times, and it s a great story. But I finally had a friend (Doctor/Professor of Classical Civ) recite a good
                                        Message 19 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                                          I must fully agree. I've read "The Illiad" many times, and it's a great story. But I finally had a friend (Doctor/Professor of Classical Civ) recite a good chunk of the first book to me in its original Greek language with the rythmn of its dactyllic hexameter, and well, I was enamored. I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was clearly something very epic by her body language, facial expressions, and the way the rythmn worked. It was inspiring.
                                          >>>>
                                          A friend of mine in the East, Brighid, recites racy Latin poetry in the original language.  You don't have to understand Latin to... um...  "get the drift"...  <snicker>  When he heard her recite for the first time, one friend of hers responded, "I don't know what you said, but I KNOW it was dirty..."  She won the King's Bardic Championship two years ago with that stuff.  I love it!
                                           
                                          Kass
                                        • Bob Davis
                                          ... She bloody well better. You are staring at me as I type this, so I am filing it away for future blackmail. ;-) I confess, I had no idea what Jehanne was
                                          Message 20 of 26 , Mar 6, 2001
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                                            Kass McGann wrote:

                                            > > One of these days. That's a promise. It's too
                                            > > beautiful a piece for me not to want to give it a
                                            > > shot.
                                            >
                                            > Good. I'm holding you to it now. Bob? You listening? Remember this!

                                            She bloody well better. You are staring at me as I type this, so I am
                                            filing it away for future blackmail. ;-)

                                            I confess, I had no idea what Jehanne was referring to, spake the
                                            college-trained musicologist, but am keen to learn.

                                            Pax et bonum,

                                            -RfT
                                          • Brighid the-short-blonde-Scot
                                            ... Amateur musicians may have amused themselves with setting portions of Homer and Sophocles to music, rather than reciting them straight out. Can anyone
                                            Message 21 of 26 , Mar 7, 2001
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                                              >>
                                              Amateur musicians may have amused themselves with setting portions of Homer and Sophocles to music, rather than reciting them straight out.  Can anyone support/refute this?  I'm totally guessing about this :)

                                              Vittoria
                                              >>
                                               
                                              We just got done with Homer's Illiad in my Classics class too. (I'm not a classics major though, I'm an Industrial Design Major that invades everyone else's classes.) It begins the poem with "Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus's son Achilleus", but that could be just an invocation of the Muse, or a translational change. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have problems changing "sing" from Greek to English though, but I'm not a linguist. In the Introduction section of my Illiad (by Richmond Lattimore), it is said that it is meant to be orally presented. Whether that's recited, sung, and whether that's to music is not really stated. My classics prof (a Dr.), had said that it should be recited with harp music, but admittedly I was really tired that class and I can't tell you her explanation. I'll ask her tonight and let you know.
                                               
                                              Brighid
                                               
                                            • L Joseph
                                              ... Check out Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouveres edited by Frederick Goldin. (Not the easiest to find, but I got mine through amazon.com.) It is a
                                              Message 22 of 26 , Mar 7, 2001
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                                                --- Bob Davis <brewer@...> wrote:
                                                > Kass McGann wrote:
                                                > She bloody well better. You are staring at me as I
                                                > type this, so I am
                                                > filing it away for future blackmail. ;-)
                                                >
                                                > I confess, I had no idea what Jehanne was referring
                                                > to, spake the
                                                > college-trained musicologist, but am keen to learn.
                                                Check out "Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouveres"
                                                edited by Frederick Goldin. (Not the easiest to find,
                                                but I got mine through amazon.com.) It is a terrific
                                                compilation of poetry in the original dialects, with
                                                translations, and includes the text of Coeur de Lion's
                                                "Ja Nus Hon Pris". Sorry, no musical notation, but
                                                it's good stuff.

                                                Also worth reading is Meg Bogin's "The Women
                                                Troubadours."

                                                Jehanne de Wodeford, Rusted Woodlands, East

                                                =====
                                                "I do but sing because I must, And pipe but as the linnets sing." Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam."

                                                __________________________________________________
                                                Do You Yahoo!?
                                                Get email at your own domain with Yahoo! Mail.
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                                              • Ariane Helou
                                                ... Got it ;) my Greek prof gave us numerous lectures on the practice of singing the Homeric poems. The opening of the Iliad, in rough transliteration:
                                                Message 23 of 26 , Mar 7, 2001
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                                                  Brighid wrote:
                                                  >
                                                  >We just got done with Homer's Illiad in my Classics class too. (I'm not a
                                                  >classics major though, I'm an Industrial Design Major that invades
                                                  >everyone else's classes.) It begins the poem with "Sing, goddess, the
                                                  >anger of Peleus's son Achilleus", but that could be just an invocation of
                                                  >the Muse, or a translational change. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have
                                                  >problems changing "sing" from Greek to English though, but I'm not a
                                                  >linguist. In the Introduction section of my Illiad (by Richmond
                                                  >Lattimore), it is said that it is meant to be orally presented. Whether
                                                  >that's recited, sung, and whether that's to music is not really stated. My
                                                  >classics prof (a Dr.), had said that it should be recited with harp music,
                                                  >but admittedly I was really tired that class and I can't tell you her
                                                  >explanation. I'll ask her tonight and let you know.
                                                  >
                                                  >Brighid

                                                  Got it ;) my Greek prof gave us numerous lectures on the practice of
                                                  "singing" the Homeric poems. The opening of the Iliad, in rough
                                                  transliteration:
                                                  Menin aeide, thea, Peleiadeo Achileos
                                                  oulomenen...
                                                  And literally means:
                                                  Sing of the destructive wrath, goddess, of Achilles son of Peleus...
                                                  And the word "aeide" literally means "sing." The word "ennepe" is used
                                                  instead in the first line of Odyssey, but though it means "tell," "speak,"
                                                  or "narrate," poets often translate it as "sing" because it sounds more
                                                  poetic. But the Greek epics were certainly sung, probably with a lyre
                                                  accompaniment, often by highly-trained performers. (Roman poetry, even
                                                  epic, was usually recited, except for hymns which were typically set to
                                                  music and performed by a chorus.) Sorry for the digression, but what can I
                                                  say, I'm a nerd...
                                                  But what I was asking was not about the performance techniques of
                                                  antiquity, but whether amateur musicians during the Renaissance might have
                                                  tried to mimic an idealized version of epic song - setting bits of Homer to
                                                  music in the way they imagined the ancients might have done it. I do
                                                  suspect this is true, but I was wondering whether anyone could support
                                                  that. Perhaps some of the music has even survived...?
                                                  On the other hand, it might be fun to contrive a melody based on Greek
                                                  music. (Moshe once invented a melody for reciting a portion of Beowulf -
                                                  it was awesome. He also has a CD of reconstructed ancient Greek music
                                                  which I am *sure* he will let me borrow, right?).
                                                  Bob the musicologist, where can I find information on Greek modes? Will
                                                  any music theory text have them? I vaguely remember names like Lydian,
                                                  Phrygian, and Mixolydian being thrown about in my high school music history
                                                  class - are they indeed the same scales the Greeks used, and weren't they
                                                  carried through to the Middle Ages? When did the "modern" major and minor
                                                  scales come into use? I'd love some information, or the title of a good
                                                  book where I could find it - our music library is very well-stocked.

                                                  Vittoria
                                                • Kass McGann
                                                  ... What you sorry for, Vittoria? So are we all! That was really cool to know, even though I know nothing about classical poetry or musical performance. =)
                                                  Message 24 of 26 , Mar 7, 2001
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                                                    > Sorry for the digression, but what can I
                                                    > say, I'm a nerd...

                                                    What you sorry for, Vittoria? So are we all! That was really cool to know,
                                                    even though I know nothing about classical poetry or musical performance.
                                                    =)

                                                    > Bob the musicologist, where can I find information on Greek modes? Will >
                                                    any music theory text have them? I vaguely remember names like Lydian,
                                                    > Phrygian, and Mixolydian being thrown about in my high school music
                                                    history
                                                    > class - are they indeed the same scales the Greeks used, and weren't they
                                                    > carried through to the Middle Ages? When did the "modern" major and minor
                                                    > scales come into use? I'd love some information, or the title of a good
                                                    > book where I could find it - our music library is very well-stocked.

                                                    You know you've just made sure that my dinner doesn't get made on time,
                                                    don't you? ;)

                                                    Kass
                                                  • Bob Davis
                                                    ... Hush, woman; I still have to do the dishes... ;-) There is very little support indeed for the supposition that the Greek-named modes are in fact Greek in
                                                    Message 25 of 26 , Mar 7, 2001
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                                                      Kass McGann wrote:

                                                      > > Bob the musicologist, where can I find information on Greek modes? Will >
                                                      > any music theory text have them? I vaguely remember names like Lydian,
                                                      > > Phrygian, and Mixolydian being thrown about in my high school music
                                                      > history
                                                      > > class - are they indeed the same scales the Greeks used, and weren't they
                                                      > > carried through to the Middle Ages? When did the "modern" major and minor
                                                      > > scales come into use? I'd love some information, or the title of a good
                                                      > > book where I could find it - our music library is very well-stocked.
                                                      >
                                                      > You know you've just made sure that my dinner doesn't get made on time,
                                                      > don't you? ;)

                                                      Hush, woman; I still have to do the dishes... ;-)

                                                      There is very little support indeed for the supposition that the
                                                      Greek-named modes are in fact Greek in origin. For all we know,
                                                      Boethius arbitrarily assigned those names to the scale patterns we call
                                                      modes.

                                                      I'd list them for you, but I've misplaced my copy of a really cool
                                                      college-level textbook: Grout/Palisca, _A History of Western Music_, 5th
                                                      Edition, WW Norton & Co., NY. 1996. This was the text from which we
                                                      music pinheads studied when I was in college; I presume there are copies
                                                      available of the various editions. Regardless of the edition, the modes
                                                      do not change. I suggest studying the modes while listening to chant,
                                                      while following the chants in the Liber Usualis, which book will be
                                                      found in any decently-equipped college library. Each chant in the LU has
                                                      the mode number over the large capital which begins the line (see
                                                      attached JPG). Analyze the chant to find the tonic, and the mode will
                                                      start to make sense.

                                                      Good luck, and please keep me posted!

                                                      -RfT
                                                    • stephen higa
                                                      ... It seems very probable to me. ... Of COURSE I will, dearie. :) The Beowulf thing was more of a recitation formula than a melody per se. Interestingly
                                                      Message 26 of 26 , Mar 7, 2001
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                                                        > But what I was asking was not about the performance techniques of
                                                        > antiquity, but whether amateur musicians during the Renaissance might have
                                                        > tried to mimic an idealized version of epic song - setting bits of Homer to
                                                        > music in the way they imagined the ancients might have done it. I do
                                                        > suspect this is true, but I was wondering whether anyone could support
                                                        > that.

                                                        It seems very probable to me.

                                                        > music. (Moshe once invented a melody for reciting a portion of Beowulf -
                                                        > it was awesome. He also has a CD of reconstructed ancient Greek music
                                                        > which I am *sure* he will let me borrow, right?).

                                                        Of COURSE I will, dearie. :) The Beowulf thing was more of a "recitation
                                                        formula" than a "melody" per se. Interestingly (perhaps ;)), I incorporated
                                                        a melodic phrase I heard in a Greenland Inuit epic, which sounded
                                                        surprisingly similar to Scandinavian ballad melodies...perhaps this points
                                                        to a general "Northern" musical aesthetic?

                                                        > are they indeed the same scales the Greeks used, and weren't they
                                                        > carried through to the Middle Ages?

                                                        The Arabs, especially al-Farabi (9th/10th c.) and Ibn Arabi (13th c.),
                                                        studied the ancient Greek musical treatises and philosophies for their
                                                        descriptions and formulations of the maqamat (modes; singular, "maqam") that
                                                        persist in Arab music even to this day. The Arabs brought modal theories
                                                        into Europe through Spain and Italy in the early Middle Ages, and Byzantium
                                                        helped, too. If you listen to Ancient Greek music, you hear a lot of modes
                                                        similar to the Arab maqamat (we had to memorize several maqamat and be able
                                                        to identify which one(s) were used in a given song...argh! it helps in
                                                        performing/reconstructing period Arabic music, though, one of my favorite
                                                        projects). And when you listen to folk music in Spain today, you hear the
                                                        maqamat again. Unfortunately, apparently the medieval European musicians
                                                        and composers only liked some of them; you only get ones that are similar to
                                                        the ones you hear in European music today. The Arabs in Spain also
                                                        abandoned many of them in favor of more European modes, like al-Istihlal
                                                        (similar to C major but with B flat on the descent). I'm currently
                                                        attempting to formulate a melody for a 12th c. Hebrew muwashshah (sung poem)
                                                        and this is the mode I'm going to use.

                                                        Of course, these are just theories. The Europeans could have very well come
                                                        across the Greek modes themselves, or already had them in their indigenous
                                                        musics. Patterns of influence are sometimes very difficult to trace.

                                                        What was I talking about? Sorry, I don't remember if this has any
                                                        relevance...


                                                        Moshe
                                                        ----------------------------------------------------------
                                                        "Do not take a liking to poison just because there is an antidote."
                                                        --Shinran (1173-1262)
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