Tamesis Issue 203 July 2008
Please note that there will not be a September issue and the copy date for the August
issue is Monday 29th July so that I can finish it before I go off to the Oxford Baroque
I’ve been going to the Oxford course for a very long time, and it’s remarkable how
much it has changed since its first years under Walter Bergmann. I remember the
days when almost everyone played at 440 and some of the students knew more about
baroque style than some of the tutors did! These days most people play at 415 most
of the time, though there is still plenty of playing available for those who prefer
modern pitch, and the tutors selected by Peter Collier are specialists. There is an
enormous course library of music for small and larger groups, and after the first day
you select your own music and the people you want to play with. Of course the tutors
are there to help with this where necessary, as well as tutoring the groups, and they
also organise larger orchestral groups and sessions for specific instruments. If you’re
still wondering where to go this summer, and are a good sight-reader, I can
thoroughly recommend it. Oboe players particularly welcome!
If you look at the front cover you will see that we have one course each month from
September to January. Ideas for events after this will be most welcome. A form for
Jeffrey Skidmore’s Venetian Vespers day in Oxford is enclosed with this Tamesis, and
the form for the newly-announced Willaert day with John Milsom in Ickenham will
appear next month.
Congratulations to Jeff Gill for a completely correct answer to Sidney’s quiz. He wins
a year’s free membership to TVEMF. Simon Hill sent in the first completed quiz, but
gave Cutting as his answer to question 13 rather than Campion. As cuttings are not
always floral we decided that Jeff’s answer was preferable, but because it was so close
we are also giving Simon a prize - a quarter page advertisement in Tamesis
(transferable). Both of them spotted that the answer to question 13 could only have
seven letters rather than eight, and I hope that this error didn’t put too many people
off. I’ve reprinted the questions as well as giving the answers, so that you can
compare them without having to find last month’s Tamesis.
There are no TVEMF events this month because there were three in June, and as usual
there are none in August when many people are away on holiday or at summer
schools. By all accounts our June events were very successful, though not particularly
well attended - fortunately our healthy bank balance means we can afford a few
losses. In September we look forward to another workshop directed by Jeffrey
Skidmore. This time however it's not South American music but Venetian - a vespers,
but not the Vespers of 1610 by Monteverdi - a magnificent but somewhat too
frequently performed work in my view. I feel that concert promoters and radio
stations, no doubt for good commercial reasons, concentrate too much on a relatively
small number of pieces at the expense of others only slightly less good. One of the
good things I think the Early Music Fora do is to bring some of those other works to
people's attention. This is why you haven't seen us offering workshops on J S Bach,
though no doubt there are plenty of neglected works by him that deserve an airing.
So come along to Jeffrey's workshop and sample music by Grandi, Cavalli and Rovetta
as well as Gabrieli and Monteverdi.
If you go to a summer school don't forget that we are always glad of a review of any
early music event you have attended.
Music and mathematics
1. Beats in a Mars bar
2. Children of Bach’s marriage to Anna Magdalena
3. Songs for a mad king
4. Strings has a tromba marina
5. Coins in the fountain
6. Sirens were blest
7. Gifts did the singer’s true love send on the tenth day of Christmas?
8. What is the square root of A, to the nearest whole number?
9. Take the Fountains of Rome away from Prague
10. The second number in the series is the same as the third. What is the first
11. Shopping complex contiguous with London Transport (8)
12. Square composer (8)
13. Floral lutenist (8)
14. Non-musical muse’s wind instrument (8)
15. Distant angry shout (7)
16. Rescued from the Tiber, terribly wet (5)
17. She performs for Milan, in the interval (10)
18. Repeatedly rejected composer (4)
19. Exclamation elicited by The Threepenny Opera (7)
20. What name is spelt out by the initial letters of answers 11-19?
Answers (and explanations, where necessary)
1. Five. The first 39 bars of Mars, in The Planets, are in 5/4 time
3. Eight Songs for a Mad King, by Peter Maxwell Davies
4. One. The tromba marina, or trumpet marine, is, in spite of its name, a bowed
5. Three Coins in a Fountain
6. Two. Blest pair of sirens, Parry
7. 55 ; add up the numbers from 1 to 10.
8. 21. A = 440, the square root of which is 20.976 [This is why I specified that the
answer is an odd number; the square root of 415, to the nearest whole number,
9. 34. 38 (Mozart’s Prague symphony) - 4 (Respighi’s Fountains of Rome)
10. Zero. Each number in the series, after the first two, is the sum of the two
11. Arcadelt (Arcade + LT)
12. Berkeley (Square)
14. Calliope (muse of poetry); the calliope, a reedless wind instrument, is sometimes
known as the steam organ
16. Ibert (…from the Tiber, terribly…)
17. Inter-mezzo (Milan is an allusion to the football team, Inter Milan)
18. Nono (no explanation required !)
19 O-Brecht !
20. Fibonacci; this is the name by which the Italian mathematician Leonardo da Pisa
(b.1175) is usually known. He is generally credited with introducing the decimal
system to Europe in his book Liber abaci . The Fibonacci numbers were first
discovered in the course of solving a problem about breeding rabbits set at a sort
of mathematical proto-Olympiad organised by the Emperor Frederick II. They
appear frequently in nature; some plants have a Fibonacci number of growing
points and others have a Fibonacci number of petals.
Baroque music and dance at West Byfleet
On Saturday June 21st two dozen people gathered at the West Byfleet Junior School
for a day of baroque dance and dance music under the tuition of Philippa Waite
(dance) and Julian Perkins (orchestra). The great majority of the orchestra members
did some dancing as well so that we all had a good chance to find out the needs of
both dancers and musicians.
The most common basic step of baroque dance is the "pas de bourrée" and so, of
course, we started with a bourrée. Philippa took the dancers through their paces first
and then the orchestra joined in. it was interesting to note that the musicians did not
necessarily get the tempo right first time although it must be said that, playing for
beginners learning the dance, it was necessary to play slower than one normally
would. After the first lot of dancers had had a go there was an opportunity for
musicians and dancers to change places if they wanted to.
The bourrée was followed by a sarabande danced to music by Telemann and this
session went on until lunchtime. Many of us had brought our own packed lunches and
those who had not disappeared off to the pub or the local Waitrose to get some food.
The afternoon session consisted of the minuet danced to music by Quantz until
teatime and after tea it was time for the gigue to a tune by Hotteterre. This latter
was the most energetic session of the day with much hopping around. To finish off we
revisited the minuet to learn a dance in round formation.
We all had a terrific day and I think that all of us found a great deal to learn about
each others requirements in performance. Many thanks to Judith Hughes for
organising this day.
FoMRHI Revival – Call for Papers, and New Members
FoMRHI, the Fellowship of Makers and Researchers of Historical Instruments, is being
revived after a lapse of six years. It is a forum organisation, with a lively quarterly A5
publication where contributors report, discuss and debate all aspects of historical
instrument making and research, from Henry's VIII stump to Beethoven's piano and
the Coptic cistrum. A unique feature is that communications appear unedited, exactly
as the contributors send them (drawings, illustrations and diagrams welcome). In the
revived quarterly there will also be a question and answer page, and a members'
announcements page. All contributions - including questions - are rewarded with a
year's free membership. A webpage will be set up in due course - but the belief is
that a printed paper quarterly still offers handier reference, and invites more careful
and considered reading and responses than any electronic bulletin board. And you
can read it in the bath, of course.
To enquire, join, or ask for a free sample copy of FoMRHI Quarterly, contact: FoMRHI,
c/o Chris Goodwin, email: Lutesocaol.com