Notes from “Ancient Music for Ukulele”

First, here is a cross-refence of the music and the book(s) in the Ancient Music for Ukulele series:

Medieval and Traditional Book Cross-Reference
Coventry Carol The Yuletide Ukulele & The Medieval Ukulele
“Canção do figueiral”” The Medieval Ukulele
Ar Hyd y Nos The Yuletide Ukulele (All Through the Night)
Early One Morning Ballads and Songs on the Ukulele
Renaissance Book Cross-Reference
Bransle de Poitou The Renaissance Ukulele

Le Roy Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 2)

Bransle The Renaissance Ukulele

Morlaye Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 2)

Tarleton’s Resurrection Dowland Favorites on the Ukulele
Greensleeves The Renaissance Ukulele

The Yuletide Ukulele (What Child is This)

Fantasie Brayssing Favorites on the Ukulele
Buffons Morlaye Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 1)
Tourdion Le Roy Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 2)
Pimontoyse Le Roy Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 2)
Chanson “Nous voyons que les hommes” Arcadelt Favorites on the Ukulele
Conte Clare Morlaye Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 1)
Villanesque Morlaye Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 2)
Almande “La mon amy la” The Renaissance Ukulele

Le Roy Favorites on the Ukulele (Book 1)

Mrs. Winter’s Jump Dowland Favorites on the Ukulele
Pavane IV The Renaissance Ukulele

Six Pavans for Ukulele Quartet

Deux Canons Gorlier Favorites on the Ukulele
Baroque Book Cross-Reference
Minuet Bach Favorites on the Ukulele

Miniatures for Ukulele Duet

Bourrée Bach Favorites on the Ukulele

Miniatures for Ukulele Duet

Sheep May Safely Graze Bach Favorites on the Ukulele
Rujero The Baroque Ukulele
Canarios The Baroque Ukulele

Composers listed in alphabetical order by last name.  All sources are Wikipedia.

Anonymous: Coventry Carol was simply “Song 2” from the Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors.  It was named after the city of Coventry where theatrical performances about the theological mysteries of God’s creation were performed as early as 1392 until suppressed in 1579.  Only two manuscripts survived because they were copied by Robert Croo in 1534 (the originals were destroyed in a fire in 1879).  The pageant has roots in the 14th century and an unusual aspect is that it is written using the “Picardy Third” in which the piece, written in a minor key, ends on a major chord (this technique was popular in the early Renaissance).

Anonymous: Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song and tune, likely Elizabethan in origin (possibly written by Henry VIII).

Anonymous / TraditionalAr Hyd y Nos / All Through the Night is a Welsh folk song was first recorded by Edward Jones in Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards in 1784.  The melody is also used in the hymn “Go My Children with My Blessing”.  The song is popular with male voice choirs and is sung at festivals and is also considered a Christmas carol.

Anonymous / TraditionalCanção do figueiral (Song of the fig tree orchard) is celebrated as the oldest song in Portuguese.  The song is formed about the legend of the tribute of the hundred maidens (50 nobles and 50 commoners) who were provided by the population in exchange for the provision of warriors.  A Christian knight, finds six maidens taxed in a fig tree, guarded by Moors. When he saw them abused, he risked his life to save them from the guards, even using a fig branch as a weapon when he broke his sword. He married one of the maidens, giving rise to the Figueiredos family.

Anonymous / The Child Ballads are 305 traditional ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, anthologized by Francis James Child during the second half of the 19th century. Their lyrics and Child’s studies of them were published as the 2,500-page book The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The tunes of most of the ballads were collected and published by Bertrand Harris Bronson around the 1960s.

Early One Morning is a well-known melody as first printed in National English Airs c. 1855-1859 and the lyrics date back to 1787. Many versions of lyrics exist and the ones shown are from the News Chronicle Songbook, 1956. The melody has been used in many modern films and TV shows, most notably as the theme music for “The Friendly Giant”. The ballad tells the story of a poor maiden, Mary, who has been badly used by her lover.

Jacques Arcadelt (ca 1507 – 1568), also known as Jacob Arcadelt and identified in the book by Le Roy as Arcadet) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigals. He was equally prolific and adept at composing chansons, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris.

Nous voyons que les hommes is a chanson (song) that has direct translation of “We see that the men”.  However, there are several poetic versions of the lyrics with the first line as “Men, plainly enough, all think it” or “We see that men get silly”.  It’s about how sex unfairly rewards men and dishonours women.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations as well as for vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Bach enriched established German styles through his mastery of counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and his adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad. Bach’s compositions include hundreds of cantatas, both sacred and secular. He composed Latin church music, Passions, oratorios, and motets. He wrote extensively for organ and for other keyboard instruments. He composed concertos, for instance for violin and for harpsichord, and suites, as chamber music as well as for orchestra. Many of his works employ the genres of canon and fugue. Throughout the 18th century Bach was mostly renowned as an organist, while his keyboard music, such as The Well-Tempered Clavier, was appreciated for its didactic qualities.

Bourrée is a popular lute piece, the fifth movement from Suite in E minor for Lute. This piece is arguably one of the most famous pieces among guitarists and other musicians (including a rendition on flute by Jethro Tull in the 1970s). A bourrée was a type of dance that originated in France with quick duple meter and an upbeat.

Sheep May Safely Graze is a soprano aria setting words by Salomon Franck. The piece was written in 1713 and is part of the cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre.  It is frequently played at weddings; however, it was originally written for a birthday celebration.

Gregoire Brayssing (flourished 1547-60) was born in Augsburg in Bavaria.  He left the after the victory of Charles V over Elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony at Mühlberg in 1547.  He was a lute and guitar player and composer active in France in the period 1547-1560.  His sole surviving works for guitar are in Quart livre de tabulature de guiterre (1553) which was published by Le Roy in Paris.  Little else is known about him.

Fantasie is the fifth or shortest of the six fantasies in the original folio and is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. The term was first applied to music during the 16th century to refer to an imaginative musical “idea”. Its form and style consequently ranges from the freely improvisatory to the strictly contrapuntal, and also encompasses more or less standard sectional forms (i.e. it sometimes but doesn’t always follow the “rules”).

John Dowland (1563 – 1626) was an English Renaissance composer, lutenist, and singer. He is best known today for his melancholy songs but his instrumental music has undergone a major revival and has been a continuing source of repertoire for lutenists and classical guitarists. Very little is known of John Dowland’s early life, but it is generally thought he was born in London; although some claim that he was born in Dalkey, near Dublin.  In 1580 Dowland went to Paris, where he was in service to the ambassador to the French court.  He became a Roman Catholic at this time.  In 1584, Dowland moved back to England and married (his son Robert Dowland was also a musician). In 1588 he was admitted Christ Church, Oxford. From 1598 Dowland worked at the court of Christian IV of Denmark. Dowland was dismissed in 1606 and returned to England; in early 1612 he secured a post as one of James I’s lutenists.  While the date of his death is not known, he is buried at St Ann’s, Blackfriars, London.  Many of Dowland’s works survive only in manuscript form.

Tarleton’s Resurrection is a tribute to Richard Tarleton who was a famous English actor (clown) of the Elizabethan era and died in 1588.

Mrs. Winter’s Jump is  quite lively and a “jump” is a movement in the volta (dance) when a female partner jumps in the air, assisted by the male partner’s knee under her bottom as depicted in a painting of Queen Elizabeth I with the Earl of Leicester.

Simon Gorlier (flourished 1550-84) was a musician and French composer and an active bookseller and printer in Lyon. He could not be linked to the Lyon consular family of Grolier. Most musical editions printed by Simon Gorlier are lost and reported only in bookseller catalogs or bibliographies of the time. His sole surviving works for guitar are in Troysieme livre de tabulature de guiterne (1551) which was published by Morlaye in Paris. In the dedication Gorlier wrote apologetically of the four-course guitar and his reasons for composing for an inferior instrument, saying that he wanted to show that it was as capable as larger instruments of reproducing music in two or three parts.  He also played the spinet.

In Canon (In subdyapenté), the follower part comes in after 2 bars and mimics the leader part but a fifth lower in pitch.  While difficult to see in the original folio, it becomes obvious in modern musical notation with note stems up for the leader part and stems down for the follower part.  Autre Canon has a similar structure but the follower part is only 1 bar after the leader part. These arrangements are for one performer but they can easily be played as duets with repeats so that the performers can exchange parts.

Adrian Le Roy (c.1520–1598) became an accomplished musician and entered the service of, first, Claude de Clermont, then, Jacques II (Baron de Semblançay and Viscount of Tours), both members of the aristocracy who had influence at court. Le Roy and his cousin Robert Ballard founded the printing firm “Le Roy & Ballard”, and in August 1551 obtained a royal privilege from Henry II to print music. Royal patronage was a major factor in the company’s success since it ensured both a ready supply of new music from the court musicians and a market for its publications. Over the following two decades other rival companies dropped out of the market and from the 1570s onwards Le Roy & Ballard enjoyed a virtual monopoly in music publishing. Le Roy achieved renown as a composer and arranger of songs and instrumentals, his published work including at least six books of tablature for the lute, five volumes for the guitar and arrangements for the cittern. Le Roy’s book L’Instruction pour la mandore gives modern historians hints as to the instrument’s origins and design.

Luis de Milán (c. 1500 – c. 1561) was a Spanish Renaissance composer, vihuelist, and writer on music. He was the first composer in history to publish music for the vihuela de mano, an instrument employed primarily in the Iberian peninsula and some of the Italian states during the 15th and 16th centuries, and he was also one of the first musicians to specify verbal tempo indications in his music. He seems to have been employed by the ducal court until around 1538. In 1535 he published his first book, a parlor game with music, entitled El juego de mandar; in the next year he published what was to be his most important book, Libro de música de vihuela de mano intitulado El maestro. This book was dedicated to King John III of Portugal; this dedication, and the existence of six villancicos which Milán wrote in Portuguese, suggest that he may have traveled to that country and spent some time there. The music of Luis Milan is popular with performers on the present-day classical guitar because it can be adapted very easily to their instrument.

Guillaume Morlaye (c.1510–c.1558) was a French Renaissance era lutenist, composer and music publisher. He was a pupil of Albert de Rippe and lived and worked in Paris. In 1552 he received a ten-year license to publish music from Henry II, and between 1553 and 1558 published four lute collections in cooperation with Michel Fezandat and six lute collections compiled by Albert de Rippe. He also published three books of his own four-course Renaissance guitar compositions during 1552–53, including fantasies and dances, and also lute arrangements of Pierre Certon and Claudin de Sermisy. Besides his music publishing activities, Morlaye was reported to have engaged in the slave trade.

Christian Petzold (1677 – 1733) was a German composer and organist. He was active primarily in Dresden, and achieved a high reputation during his lifetime, but his surviving works are few. He is best remembered for a pair of minuets that were copied into the 1725 Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. One of these minuets, the Minuet in G major, achieved wide recognition, but for centuries was attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. Petzold’s authorship was only established in the 1970s.

Gaspar Sanz (ca 1650 – 1710), or Francisco Bartolomé Sanz Celma, was a Spanish composer, guitarist, organist and priest born to a wealthy family in Spain. He studied music, theology and philosophy at the University of Salamanca, where he was later appointed Professor of Music. He wrote three volumes of pedagogical works for the baroque guitar that form an important part of today’s classical guitar repertory and have informed modern scholars in the techniques of baroque guitar playing.

Canarios is a lively piece in 6/8 time with a play of rhythms where sometimes the piece appears to be in 3/4 and sometimes it sounds like it’s in 2/4 time.  This arrangement is based on a transcription by Alexander Bellow.  It is one of the pieces that Joaquín Rodrigo made famous in 1954 at the request of guitarist Andrés Segovia by incorporating it into the guitar concerto Fantasía para un gentilhombre.

Rujero is based on an arrangement in an old grade 4 book of the Royal Conservatory of Music and a piece learned by many guitar students, including me.  It is currently in the grade 5 book.