Saturday 29 October 10.30-16.45
St. Gabriel’s Church Hall
77 Chichele Road, Cricklewood, London NW2 3AQ
The Shakespeare Connection
10.30 Arrival & Coffee
11.00 Talk by Wendy Hancock of Nottingham University, with examples played by volunteer consort
Shakespeare, Viols and Music
Shakespeare’s world-view follows a coherent and traditional literary theme, which stretches from Pythagoras until the 17th century. James Hutton terms this Laudes Musicae, that is ‘The praise of Music’. According to this scheme, musica speculativa (the contemplation of the higher orders, including the angels, sirens, fates and muses, with reference to the Music of the Spheres) took precedence over musica practica (that is, sounding music). By the time of Thomas Morley however (A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke, 1597), and indeed Shakespeare, practical music was beginning to make vast headway, and rational man was expected to respond to the power of sounding music, since even animals and insensible things such as rocks and trees are able to do so. Apollo/Orpheus is the model here, also portraying the idea that music must be joined with verse, since music and poetry were regarded as weak without the logos of speech.
Nevertheless, many Shakespearean terms contain concealed references to more symbolic and esoteric meanings – terms such as consort, harmony, concord and discord for instance – and especially the well-tuning (or indeed bad tuning) of strings, whether they be on lute, viol or harp. When we come to references to individual instruments such as the viol, these often show aspects of hierarchy, but also (perhaps more strongly) practical associations with different types of activity, and different moods.
13.30 Lecture-recital by distinguished gamba player Susanne Heinrich
Captain Tobias Hume - Prankster or Path Paver?
This talk will examine two important aspects of Hume's music and work environment: the effect of sponsorship (or the lack of it) and how much Hume did for the viol as a solo instrument.
Patronage was an important factor facilitating and sometimes controlling the output of a poet or composer. Who sponsored who and why? How much was genuine personal interest of the patron, and how much was dictated by fashion, or success and compliancy of the recipient?
A superficial look at Hume's music has resulted in him being labelled as a prankster, but is this justified? He borrowed Dowland's idea of two people playing one instrument simultaneously, and he gave some of his short solo pieces suggestive titles. We may never find out whether these titles were harmless insider jokes or referred to something more meaningful, and we may never know what sort of character Hume really was. But looking further into his music suggests that Hume was more than a competent amateur viol player and soldier with a sense of humour: an individualist with a vision. Hume lived at a time when the lute was the Queen of instruments and had already established its qualities and capabilities as a tool for soloistic polyphony and virtuosic flying divisions. Viol composers tried to jump on that same bandwagon (Pavans, Galliards and variations on popular tunes of the day) but were limited by the nature of the viol with fewer strings and a bow. Hume made an effort to divert from this convention and tried to discover what the viol was actually capable of and good at, thereby paving the first stretch of path towards the widening gap between the consort viol and the viol as a serious solo instrument.
15.15 Elizabeth Dodd will lead a session on Renaissance Dance, with live music played by volunteer consort
Dances and Shakespeare
All the educated members of Shakespeare's audience would have known a collection of dances - taught them along with their general education from childhood. A mention of any of them would have given an instant mind picture of the dance steps, patterns and speed. The groundlings would probably have picked up enough idea of how some of the dances went and would also have had their own dance types. In this session we will try some of the dances which would have been well known and discuss those mentioned in Shakespeare's text.
For those with bad backs or broken ankles there will be the option to play for the dancing. Please let the meetings organiser (see below) know in advance if you would like to do this so that appropriate music can be provided.
Elizabeth Dodd Having studied viol and early dance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama I have been performing and teaching both ever since, specialising in relating knowledge of the dance steps and rhythms with the music. I have worked with a number of theatre companies on both music and dance for Shakespeare productions.
16.45 Tea / departure
If you would be willing to help play the musical examples in the first and/or third session, please let the meetings organiser Rhiannon Evans (email@example.com) know as soon as possible, so that appropriate music can be provided.
Parking: There is free ‘residents’ parking within 2 minutes walk of the meeting venue on the western part of Anson Road (across the main road from the hall). Anywhere in Zone GA (within white dotted lines) is free on Saturdays. If Anson road is busy, any of the smaller cross streets in the same zone (NOT Heber Road) are also free
Details of future VdGS Meetings
Spring 2017 AGM Meeting April 22nd in Oxford, with Simone Eckert
Summer 2017 Meeting will be in June (date tbc) in Nottingham, with Tudor Partbooks Project
Our meetings are free to members, but a small charge or donation is requested from non-members.