Thoughts. No.6 – Singers


Tagged 564, Musée Condé, The Manuscript Chantilly

Listening to some medieval vocal music yesterday morning, I was sickened by how the singers handled it. Absolutely sickened, for the umpteenth time, by what singers do to the material they are given.

In this case it’s a power thing. Who can, hand on heart, swear that they know how a Minnesinger, or a troubadour, would have sounded? Or how theCantigas de Santa Maria would have sounded?

So it’s carte blanche for the singers, sod them. They only have to get the pitches and rhythms right. (In contemporary music, they don’t even feel obligated to do that……they just wobble along, going up and down roughly at the right moments………but in a terribly “impressive” display of bel canto, of course……..)

So I was fuming away, wondering precisely how to define what I detest so much in thisespressivo, and how to counteract it, when, by chance, a possible solution presented itself….

Further along on the CD was a recording of some Codex Chantilly pieces in the Ars Subtilior style of the 14th century. Marvelous for me, some polyphonicballades……….absolutely adorable. (Composers such as Symonis, Suzay, Solage and des Molins).

But of course the singers have to count like crazy to do these things, or they fall apart. They are so busy counting that they don’t have any time for their usual espressivofarting……

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