Manchester Gamba Book

December 25, 2009

The Manchester Gamba Book, with an introduction by Paul Furness. Scout Bottom Farm, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire: Peacock Press, 2003. Reproduced from the manuscript in the Henry Watson Music Library (BRm 832 Vu 51) by kind permission of the Director of the Manchester Public Libraries.

Inspired by the prospect of music for two lyra viols by Wm Cranford sometime, I’ve put this music on the stand. This is a facsimile of the manuscript printed on yellow paper. It’s one of the largest collections of lyra viol music around, so Martha Bishop and others have included it in their anthologies of tablature.

Sherlie and Ives are in this collection, along with Coleman, Young, Lawes and Jenkins, which puts it smack in the period 1640-1660 I guess. Last time I tried to unravel the tunings, I came unstuck. The first twelve pieces are in staff notation. The first piece sounds like a Ballet from the suites of Hotman.The pedagogic value of this “A Schoole grounde” is demonstrated in the very similar No.5 “A fancie“. Nice to get my fingers around No.4 Wooddicocke, so to speak, with all the Englishness of “Greensleeves“. The untitled No.2 and 3 by Hugh Facie make a lot less sense and I’ll leave the 16th note runs in the Richarde Sumarte bastarda-like pieces for another day, though no.11 recalls Lachrymae.

A “way into” the 27 pieces with standard tuning (Violl Waye) might be the well-known tune of No.6 Daphne and then perhaps No.9 Lachrymae.

Other diversions –

* a seven-string 70cm bass (after Bertrand) on eBay for $AU4000.

* lush viola solo (would sound great on gamba) in a piece called Celtic Dance, as recorded and distributed by the Palm Strings Quartet, A Festive Christmas. See www.blogcatalog.com/blog/e-sarasota-violists-escapades.

* And Johnny Depp in “The Libertine“. Astonishingly good writing in this film, notwithstanding the unusually blunt bawdy language. Concerning the Earl of Rochester and Elizabeth Barry (with references to Wren, the Great Fire and plague), it follows on very naturally after another film, also made in 2004, set in the Restoration, Stage Beauty. In SB, Rupert Everett plays Charles II; in Libertine, he is played by John Malkovich.  Stage Beauty is a rivetting drama about the first women to take the stage in Restoration England, replacing men actors playing women; Libertine is set but a few years later. No viols in either, but Stage Beauty has a scene of instrumentalists in a public house which bears striking resemblance to a description by Roger North at the time about violin solos in such venues as organised by Banister. Neither is your standard bonnet drama by any means, with Stage Beauty being largely and strongly feminist and Libertine seriously exploring wine, women and theatre (that is to say, addiction, sexuality, gender relations and the life/artifice divide). Both deal with important social issues (sexuality, gender relations and personal freedom in the main, and the English love of the theatre) set against the upheaval of Charlie’s Restoration England. It’s certainly not hard to imagine Purcell and his predecessors of Charles I’s time in both films. Stage Beauty, set somewhat earlier points up the frippery somewhat more; Libertine shows Charles II in more desperate times and in more straightened times politically, without Nell being portrayed at all. Both show everyone literally mired down in the filthy muddy streets of England; Libertine has more of the heavy fog about it. Both form a nice foil to how things were in France at the time, as portrayed in Tous les matins du monde.

 

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