Thursday, November 02, 2006
Such admirable art...
I was looking at John Dowland's First Book of Songes, and noticed that it concludes with 'an invention by the sayd Author for two to playe upon one Lute'. So I hied me to the in-house greenwood, etc, and was disappointed to find that my purported 'Complete Lute Music' of Dowland (vinyl LP's that already feel quite thrillingly ancient, almost Elizabethan themselves) do not include this rather jolly stunt - and frankly, my dears, the delicate young men who twangle their way through the five discs look as though the close proximities required by the two-men-on-a-single-lute business might have been just too overwhelming to contemplate.
But too the rescue comes the internet, with, amazingly, a whole collection of free mp3's of Dowland duos, including the 'Lord Chamberlain's galliard', the piece in question.
So here's the link:
and here's the full page of their other toys, fancies, dumps, almains (and the rest):
(***Now, I hope repaired: 7th November)
What you don't get is any assurance that Kenji Sano and Jinke Nosa performed the galliard together on the single instrument. There are no giggles or brief breaks for self disentanglement. Maybe there's a film on YouTube one could use to verify. The galliard was very much a dance for male display, I think Dowland maybe did divert it a little here towards male intimacy. But I assume male players, rather we might imagine that if your plucking was up to it, you might have canoodled pleasantly in this manner with Lady Mary Wroth, bassus to her cantus (though the arch lute she totes in her famous portrait perhaps allowed plenty of space for chaste distance anyway).
Thomas Coryate, footing it towards Venice, heard another remarkable performance in the Tuileries Garden:
"At the end of this garden is an exceeding fine Eccho. For I heard a certain Frenchman who sung very melodiously with curious quavers, sing with such admirable art, that upon the resounding of the Eccho there seemed three to sound together" (Coryates Crudities, 1611, p. 27). The only example I know off-hand of a song with an echo is the wonderful 'In a dark shady grove/Our charms we prepare/Too dreadful a practice/For the open air' chorus in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. But I am ignorant, and there must have been hundreds. But music sung to a literal echo?
One of our first year students happened to play me 'Greensleeves' on her psaltery last week. It is not often you can use a sentence like that (and it's hard to write without getting the giggles). On College premises too. No, literally. Things are looking up.