Table of Contents

Part-Singing in the SCA

1. Rounds

3. Part Songs (Renaissance)

4. Folk Songs

6. Motets (Renaissance)

Somer Is Ycumen In

Change Then For Lo!

Gaudete

Deo Gratias

Lo! How A Rose

Pase El Agoa

The Boar's Head Carol

If Ye Love Me

Dona Nobis Pacem

In Dulci Jubilo

The King

Laudate

Hey Ho

Ju Me Leve

Wild Mountain Thyme

Sicut Cervus

Innsbruck

2. Medieval Songs

Come Again

5. Madrigals (Renaissance)

Fi Maris

Emmanuel

Weep O Mine Eyes

Ther Is No Rose

Pastime

April Is In My Mistress' Face

Stella Splendens

Of All The Birds

Las! Je Me Plain

Deo Gracias!

Contrapunto Bestiale Alla Mente

Ave Vera Virginitas

Alack! My Heart Is Sore With Pain

Mille Regretz

The Lochac Virtual Songbook

 

Welcome to the Lochac Virtual Songbook! This undertaking was commissioned by His Occidental Majesty Fabian King of the West in AS XXXV, and was prepared by Master Dafydd of the Glens with the technological assistance of Mistress Yseult de Lacy, OL, and too many other singers and musicians to relate, but thanks are due especially to Hey Nonny-Nonnymous in the Barony of St Florians. You guys rock!

To listen to and download music from this site, you will need Noteworthy, which is the generally accepted music program in the Kingdom of Lochac. It runs perfectly on Windows, is no trouble to anybody and (best of all) takes up very little bandwidth. It is now available from the web at www.ntworthy.com

Part-Singing in the SCA

During the so-called Renaissance part-singing ceased merely to be the province of professionals and became a necessary part of courtly life, in which as many people as possible were expected to join. In Lochac, we have always felt that no feast is complete without part-singing: be it madrigals, part-songs, rounds or all of the above. If your group is newly embarking on this endeavour, we offer the following general suggestions:

* Like bel canto, only far, far more horrible.

1. Rounds

Note 1: Opinions vary as to how you should finish rounds. Some say each part should sing their own part once or twice and then stop, so the whole piece gets a fade-out. Others think everyone should keep going until the audience revolts or the conductor makes a hugely dramatic gesture of finale. You be the judge.

Note 2: For these rounds, the nwc file just gives the single line which everyone sings in turn. The midi file given shows what the piece should sound like with everyone singing.

Somer Is Ycumen In

This famous 13th C English round is one of the earliest pieces recorded for more than one part. The ground bass (in 2 parts) is for male voices only and they should keep going until the end. Then female voices come in one at a time. This one works well as a fade. We suggest every female voice sings through twice.

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Note 3: the alternate words printed under the originals escaped from Master Dafydd's workshop during a Royal Visit from Prince Alfar, who requested a Viking song. His Highness may have regretted asking, but it seemed to go off all right.


Lo! How A Rose

(Melchior Volpius) This beautiful 16thC round is not too difficult and well repays a bit of work. Practice especially the tied note on “coming” in the 3rd line.

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Dona Nobis Pacem

(Anon) An old favourite which is very simple. It can be sung in one of two ways: either everyone sings one line repeated over and over (good for beginning ensembles); or else sings through the three parts as a big round. The tenor comes in after the three female parts and the bass is last. (This is a very low part and needs a butch voice.)

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Hey Ho

(Thomas Ravenscroft) A marvellously lugubrious song that can be sung in as many as 9 parts. It is very simple (only 2 chords: Am and Em) and works very well with a slow fade (everyone only sings it once or twice through and then stops).

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2. Medieval Songs

Medieval music is generally much harder than Renaissance music and most early songs (especially Burgundian ones) can only be attempted with mountaineering equipment. First rule of medieval music: keep the rhythm (mostly) strict and keep it moving! Here are a few easier ones:

Fi Maris

One of the earliest part-songs, this is one of Adam de la Halle's many rondeaux from early 13thC France. “Fie upon you my husband, for I have a lover who pleases me.” So there.

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Ther Is No Rose

This is a beautiful 14thC English Yule carol which is eminently achievable. Sing it softly!

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Stella Splendens

A rousing medieval anthem. Take it fast and bouncy!

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Deo Gracias!

aka The Agincourt Carol, written to commemorate Henry V's victory over the French in 1415. The cross-rhythms in this song are fairly scary, but as long as you keep strict time you can get it right. It's fast and relentless throughout, and you may beat two big thumps between verses and choruses. (Actually, this one would be good with percussion.) Whenever you see a crochet, think two quavers. This works wonders.  

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Ave Vera Virginitas

A late 15thC piece in honour of the BVM from Josquin des Pres. Swell the music whenever you sing higher and get soft when lower. Take the end very slow and soft.  

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Mille Regretz

A contrasting song of love and pain from Josquin. Keep it moving!  

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3. Part Songs (Renaissance)

Change Then For Lo!

This 3-voice madrigal from William Holborne is an ideal warmup piece for rehearsal. Keep it feather-light and think in 1 rather than 3.  

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Pase El Agoa

A pretty Galician song which is rather cryptic. It translates as “Come to me across the water, my Lady Juliet. I will go into the forest, there to pluck three roses.” You can also use this one as a comic song by introducing some kazoos (tell them it's an SCA crumhorn), or singing while holding your nose.  

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In Dulci Jubilo

Michael Praetorius wrote 88 versions of this famous 14thC German carol. This is no. 83, so we can assume that if he hadn't got it right by now he never would.  

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Ju Me Leve

An early Spanish Renaissance part-song. Move the choruses faster and slow down for the verses. The 3/4 bits should be sung with quiet menace.

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Innsbruck

A pretty song of farewell from 16thC Germany. Make the start really dramatic (start very soft and swell through bar 1); and make the repeat choruses as different as possible (eg one loud, one soft; or getting louder, getting softer etc).

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Come Again

One of the most famous of all part-songs, this masterpiece from the manic-depressive pen of John Dowland is sung everywhere. It has a series of amusing hand gestures which go with it, some of which (to his shame)  were devised by the editor.

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Emmanuel

A lovely German Yule carol from Michael Praetorius. Take it as fast as you like, and remember that Dominus Salvator Noster Est is the chorus at the end of all 3 verses.  

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Pastime

This famous three-part anthem from Henry VIII in praise of good living is also wellnigh universal. This goes well with percussion, or failing that, handclaps. Your conductor can use a dactyl handclap to keep time. It is very rarely sung correctly, however. Have a listen.  

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Of All The Birds

This charmer from John Farmer is from 1597 and is a saucy double-entendre song. The “yets” need to be sung clearly and staccato. I used to slow this one right down at the second “Phillip will cry still” but that's just my preferred version. Mostly you sing as fast as you can and still get the words heard.  

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4. Folk Songs

Folk songs almost by definition aren't period. But people like them and that's a good enough reason to include them sometimes. And sometimes they are period too so there.

Gaudete

This famous Yule motet is from the Piae Cantiones collection of 1582. It sounds late medieval, but wasn't written down until then. Note that the verse tune is different from the Steeleye Span version. Sing Maddy Prior's version if you want, but don't get the two mixed up with each other.  

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This is a powerful piece perennially popular at feasts, but it can also be used as a pub song. You can make up your own verses. We generally begin with a good half-dozen beginning each with “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, but not in front of the children, please. A good rousing Gaudete can last over half an hour if people have had enough to drink.

The Boar's Head Carol

This is a great one to use at a feast if roast boar is on the menu. Bring the boar's head in procession and sing it. You only need one strong voice for the verses and everyone else can join in the chorus.  

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The King

Another Steeleye Span favourite from trad English Twelfth Night. I wrote what seemed to be suitable folk harmonies for it. A fine piece to sing at the end of a feast.  

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Wild Mountain Thyme

This is an old favourite from Scotland. The folk harmonies really work here.  

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5. Madrigals (Renaissance)

Note: In general, be delicate and flowing rather than marching through the piece like a metronome. Sing it as though it means something!

Weep O Mine Eyes

John Wilbye's heartrending madrigal is a perennial favourite with choral singers, and should be sung softly and not too slow. The four repetitions of “O when?” should, in our belief, each be sung softer than the previous one, with a swift crescendo and diminuendo following. In each part when going from an E to F natural (Phrygian mode!) the change should be emphasised without being too ostentatious.  

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April Is In My Mistress' Face

This masterpiece from Thomas Morley is almost perfect, and well repays the work it needs. The cynicism and unrequited love are tactfully handled, and the delicacy of expression could hardly be bettered. Rise and fall with the music and Keep It Moving!  

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Las! Je Me Plain

Some would claim this to be the loveliest of all madrigals. It belongs to a period when the French court abandoned hideously complex Burgundian cross-rhythms in favour of simpler tunes which anyone could sing, given some rehearsal time. Just drift up and down the scale and you're home and dry. DON'T let it drag!  

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Contrapunto Bestiale Alla Mente

This five-part animal act from Adriano Banchieri is well-suited for comedy. The falalalas at the start and finish are an amusingly odd contrast to the animal noises. The piece may be introduced to the populace as follows:  ”And now, for lovers of democracy, we present unedited transcripts from the famous Addled Parliament of 1553...” or similar.  

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Alack! My Heart Is Sore With Pain

A piece of nonsense concocted after too many drinks one night at Politarchopolis Coronet AS XXVIII. Far too many Elizabethan songs are tales of unrequited love, and this one just goes that little bit further than the rest. The tenor solo was written for Master Arenwald von Hagenburg, who overacted splendidly at its premiere performance. Understatement is generally a fine thing in choral singing; but with this piece, don't bother. Just ham it up.

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6. Motets (Renaissance)

Deo Gratias

This exquisite miniature from William Byrd is an ideal warmup piece.

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If Ye Love Me

I couldn't put together a songbook and ignore the great master Thomas Tallis. Weightless and serious is what you want here. Imagine you're a Catholic recusant on the run from the authorities, singing mass in secret in someone's house.  

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Laudate

This is more or less the national anthem of Australian choral singers. It is frequently sung as a pub song, but try not to do this. Dignified and quiet is the way to go. Thanks, Dr Tye.  

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Sicut Cervus

OK, this is the big one. This piece “As a hart thirsteth for cooling streams, so doth my soul thirst for thee, O Lord” is as perfect as motets get. If you can sing this one perfectly you've made the big time as choral singers. Palestrina must be sung weightlessly, so lie back and dream of St Peters. Phrases rise and fall naturally, but do emphasise important fragments like the tenor “Ita desiderat” in bars 29-31.  

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Remember that the more acoustic help you get, the slower you can afford to sing it. The speed given (crotchet = 56) is OK for a good acoustic. In a cathedral you could go even slower. If (heaven help you) you are singing it outside in the open, go quite a lot faster (crotchet = 75 at least). Good luck!

Last minute warning: PLEASE watch your vowels. Neither American nor Australian vowels should be tolerated in your ensemble! If the song is English, think English. If Italian, Italian. And so on. BEST OF LUCK!

Dafydd   

Copyright Notice: these editions remain the intellectual property of David Greagg and all rights are reserved. This music may however be reproduced at will within the Society for Creative Anachronisms (Inc) worldwide, and within Australia by members of the AIVCC and its affiliated University choral societies.