Thames Valley Early Music Forum

Silence is Golden

A workshop to study the use of the rest in early music


A day for singers and instrumentalists directed by Mark Anon
at the West London Trappist Monastery, Sunday 1st April 2012

It is surprising how many players find difficulties with rests. A prime source of confusion is the similarity of the semibreve and minim rests which of course differ only in their position on the stave. We shall be considering this and other problems such as how to behave during multiple bars rest to avoid people thinking you are lost, and addressing the question of whether 16th century musicians would have been expected to perform divisions on the longer rests.

The music will be suitable for singers (all ranges) and for all wind and strings – loud instruments will be particularly welcome. Strings should tune to A= 440 though scordatura tuning may be required for some of the more extreme modulations we shall attempt. Amongst the pieces to be studied will be Marche Funèbre Composée pour les Funérailles d'un Grand Homme Sourd by Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) which pre-dates the better-known work 4' 33” by John Cage (1912-1992) which we may sample if copyright issues can be resolved. Instrumentalists may be familiar with the Fantasia Con Pause by Philip van Wilder and its companion piece Fantasia Ohne Pause which has the same notes but without the rests. We will attempt the lesser-known version Fantasia Ohne Noten in which the rests remain but the notes are omitted. The tutor comes from a line of musicians even more prolific than the Bach family and whose ancestors composed in many musical genres including estampies, ballads, dances, chansons, la spagnas, in nomines, fantasias and canzonas. It will be fascinating to have his views on the topic under discussion and perhaps to discover more about the feud with the more conservative Trad family.

The day will begin with coffee and registration at 10.00 for a 10.30 start and run till 5.00. The monastery is easily located if you have an EM-enabled satnav and can be reached by public transport if you start on Saturday evening and avoid the Central, Metropolitan, Piccadilly and District lines which are closed for engineering work, and the bus with its replacement hackney carriage service. The monks fast during Lent so no food is allowed on the premises but the nearest pub is only an hour's walk away through the marsh. The fee is £12 for Early Music Forum members and £14 for non-members, cheques payable to TVEMF.

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