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22 tracks 60 minClick here to preview trk 13
Ballads and songs from the time of Chaucer
Lively and cosmopolitan, these songs and ballads are performed in an authentic style using period instruments. The songs, including 'Sumer is icumen in' and 'Angelus ad Virginem', would have been familiar to Chaucer's pilgrims as they journeyed to Canterbury.
Songs from the Taverne
Ballads and songs from the age of Chaucer
'Where as with harpes lutes and gyternes
They daunce and pleyen at dees bothe day and nyght'
(The Pardoner's Tale)
A selection of music chosen with Chaucer's pilgrims in mind, using instruments and music of the period, including those mentioned in The Canterbury Tales, such as lutes gitterns, harps and rebecs, and the carol 'Angelus ad Virginem' which was played by Nicholas the Oxford student in 'The Miller's Tale'.
2 Angelus ad Virginem
3 La Manfredina
5 Hyer matin
6 Saltarello II
7 Ductia II
8 Quant voi la fleur
9 Estampie Royale
10 Ductia I
11 Sumer is icumen in
13 Danse royale
14 J'atendray tant
15 Foy porter
16 Bourgogne Brawle
17 Angelus ad Virginem
18 Trolly Lolly
19 Anxi bon youre
20 Tout leis enmi
21 Tout par compas
22 Ductia III
Jon Banks gittern and harp, dulcimer, percussion
Matthew Spring lute, gittern, hurdy-gurdy, percussion
Sharon Lindo rebec, medieval fiddle, pipes, pipe and tabor
Lisette Wesseling French songs
Michelene Wandor recorder
The Oxford Girls' Choir
p & c 2003 Classical Communications Ltd
Image: Pardoner's Prologue from The Canterbury Tales 1924 by Harry Mileham (1873-1957) Private collection © courtesy of the artist/Bridgeman Art Library
Made in Great Britain
'In Flandres whilom was a compaignye
Of yonge folk that haunteden folye,
As riot, hazard, stywes, and taverns,
Where as with harpes lutes and gyternes
They daunce and pleyen at dees bothe day and nyght,
And eten also and drynken over hir might,
Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifise
Withinne that develes temple, in cursed wise,
By superfluytee abhomynable.'
(The Pardoner's Tale)
Chaucer's 'Pardoner's Tale' opens with this description of Flemish youths drinking, over-indulging and carousing in the 'devil's temple' or tavern, playing the instruments which feature on this recording. Chaucer makes several further references to music and musical instruments. The fashionable and gallant Nicholas, an Oxford student, plays a 'gay sautrye' (psaltery) which he keeps above his bed. He uses this small harp to accompany himself singing 'Angelus ad Virginem'. The parish clerk, Absolon, is also musical and plays the rebec (a forerunner of the violin):
'And pleyen songs on a small rubible
Therto he song somtyme a loud quynyble
And as wel koude he pleye on a gyterne
In al the toun nas brehous ne taverne
That he ne visited with his solas'
Perkyn Revelour, the apprentice in 'The Cook's Tale' loved dancing, dice, music and wenches! He could also 'pleye on gittern or ribible'. In 'The Manciple's Tale' the lute and gittern are both listed among the instruments of minstrelsy. The gittern is like a tiny lute, and its strings are plucked not by the fingers by a small plectrum.
Pipes feature in so much medieval art that it seemed obvious that we had to include them here, along with the hurdy-gurdy, (mentioned in Chaucer as a 'symphonye'), that exotic-sounding instrument which was a strong feature of all musical life from the middle ages until the eighteenth century. Pipe and tabor, too, was a typical medieval combination. Both instruments are played by the same person (track 12), the tabor (drum) with the right hand, the pipe with the left - quite a feat of coordination! The music ranges from French songs - London's court life was conducted almost entirely in French in Chaucer's time, and the political ties between England and France were very close - to cheerful dances, and to reflective pieces for the magical combinations of lute and gittern or harp and gittern (tracks 19 and 21), the typical instrumental combination mentioned again and again in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
Notes by Martin Souter, with gratitude to Matthew Spring, and his book 'The Lute in Britain' (Oxford 2001).