MUSIC NEWBORN - Oliver Hirsh



At home in the modes, 2015
A report from the course At home in the modes, Klippinge, May 2015

A group of six devotees to the modes course at Ascension enjoyed changeable May weather to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of Mixolydian and Phrygian music of the 16th century. Specially prominent: Thomas Stoltzer, whose flexible seventh from Octo tonorum melodiæ was practised 3 afternoons. We also heard him on 2 viols, did one verse from Ascension hymn Festum nunc celebre on 3 recorders and a small traverso, with a further verse (mixed reed, viol, traverso and vocal) by Matthias Eckel.

Lovely lighter touch was provided from the collection of Strambotti etc., viols playing the active middle parts. The 4 voices of Passomezzo moderne were learned and sung, providing a gracious backup when Ulla played Ortiz’ recercada on it.

From sacred repertoire: Mouton’s Salva nos (Medici codex), 6 parts, with canon at fifth (leader’s finger assisted with final low E on bass crumhorn). Also fifth canon in Claudin de Sermisy Sicut erat in principio from Magnificat ottavo tono. Realizing Willaert’s double canon at the fourth Sana me (Clemente Stephani 1567) proved trickier, since our first attempts showed a difference in length between the two canons of 7 semi-brieves! Lengthening one note in lower pair and removing 6 beats from upper pair saw us through our last morning. But next day found which 6 to repeat in lower canon. Three short trios by Jacobus Vaet (one from each book of Selectissimarum… 1569); the first fine for 3 voices and instruments.

Thursday started with Gregorian melodies (for Ascension) in 7th and 8th mode; and we later plumbed the depths of Johannes Thamant’s short duo Una salus, identifying cadences on G, then C, later D and G, as well as refreshing our practice of triple meter, including blackened ligatures, dots and alteration.

We all know how critical timing is when getting ensemble to function; add to that preparing meals on time and enjoying them together! Tuning, articulation and accentuation are further ingredients to be gathered and cultivated… 


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