Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Little John

Pastime with Good Company - help needed

Recommended Posts

Does anyone play this tune? I came across it recently on a Jethro Tull compilation and I've been having a bit of fun with it, but having decided to have a serious go at it I'm having trouble with the music. The 1513 manuscript shows three verses, all with different tunes. None of the modern transcriptions or recordings use anything other than the first tune. (I think Jethro Tull hint at the second, but it's too jazzed up to use as a source.) The difficulty arises because each of the three verses is written in a different clef. They all have one flat. There are two little squares at the beginning of each line which I take to be a C clef. In the first two verses the relative positions of the clef and the flat are consistent with the tune being in G minor/dorian; but that isn't the case for the third verse. The only way I can make sense of it musically is to treat the bottom line of the stave as the tonic. That's consistent with the position of the flat, but not with what I presume to be the clef. Also this verse has an additional symbol immediately after the clef which I have no way of interpreting.

 

Can any one with greater knowledge of these things help me out? Did our great King Henry VIII simply make a mistake?

 

LJ

 

851214007_PastimewithGoodCompany.thumb.jpg.6e4a3dadc699d54ff0d5f3e314a1b0e0.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Little John,

 

This is just written as three-part harmony. You are correct about the first two clefs - they are C2 and C4 respectively, but the third clef is an F4 clef - notice the diamonds and the vertical line which makes a backwards F... (so it's a normal bass clef). If you just write the three parts out in modern notation (as treble and bass clefs) it will give you an idea of the chords you need under the melody.

BTW - I'm not sure there's any evidence that Henry wrote the tune, even though he's often been associated with it :-)

 

Adrian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to help out LJ.

 

The manuscript has a few other things which might be worth my pointing out to people who are unfamiliar with old notation.

The whole piece is written in double time, if we were to compare it to modern notation, the round notes without tails correspond to a 1/2 note (minim) for us, the white notes with tails are 1/4 notes (crotchets) in our notation and the black ones are 1/8 notes (quavers). The big square ones correspond to whole notes or semibreves for us and at the end of the piece, you'd hold them for as long as you felt like :-)

The C which corresponds to the C clefs is middle C, or the C underneath today's treble clef and it can be on any of the 5 lines of the stave, with a C1 clef, referring to the bottom line and a C4, the forth from bottom and so on. Likewise the F clef can be either F3, F4 or even F5 and the G clef either G2 or sometimes G1. If you're wondering why they used so many different clefs, it was ultimately to avoid ledger lines which would have used more space on the page. See how each part fits comfortably between the stave.

The squiggles with their diagonal lines at the end of each stave indicate the note that's coming next at the beginning of the following line.

As you can see there are no bar lines in music from this period.

If anyone is interested in reading up on this sort of thing I would highly recommend the veritable bible for Renaissance music written by none other than "our own" Alan Atlas:

Renaissance Music: Music in Western Europe, 1400-1600

 

Hope this helps,

 

Adrian

Edited by adrian brown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×