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Medieval Music Journal

Mit ganczem willen wünsch ich dir

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Illustrations from the Nuremberg Chronicles, 1493.

Mit Ganczem Willen wünsch ich dir – Conrad Paumann Música AntiguaEduardo Paniagua.

Mit ganczem willen wünsch ich dir
With all my heart I wish you

This so beautiful instrumental called “Mit Ganczem Willen” (With all my heart I wish you), was composed by Conrad Paumann (c. 1410 — 1473), born in Nuremberg, Germany. Although he was blind, it didn’t stop him becoming widely known as a master organist, composer and lutenist. In 1447 he became the official town organist of Nuremberg. This piece is taken his famous book about organ playing (1452), called “Fundamentum Organisandi”. Being as rebellious as he was talented, he left what was probably a stifling environment, and went secretly to Munich in 1450, where he was immediately employed by Duke Albrecht III as court organist, who also gave him a house. Munich was officially his home for the remainder of his life, although he began to travel extensively. Paumann, being blind, never wrote down his music, and may have been an improviser above all. He has been credited with inventing the system of tablature for the lute in Germany; while it cannot be proven, it seems reasonable both because of Paumann’s influence, and because of the ease with which music can be dictated using tablature. Unquestionably his influence had much to do with the subsequent development of a culture of organ-playing and composition in Germany, a tradition which culminated in the 18th century with the work of J.S. Bach.

To Serve A Better Master

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Feast of Agricola and Vitalis

Walters Ms. W.425, Prayer Book (fragment)

Si Abra en este Baldres by Juan del Encina. Performed by Ensemble la Romanesca.

To Serve A Better Master

I would hope that a time will come when the idea of one human being owning another as property will be no more than a distant, and repugnant memory. But as late as the nineteenth century, slave ownership was common in countries that we might otherwise consider civilized.
In the old testament, the law given by god to Moses limited the time that a slave could be kept as property. But if a slave had a wife and children whom he loved, or if he had a good master who provided well for his slave, he could choose to remain the property of his master for life (Exodus 21:6)
In the early days of the church, when Roman law still permitted slave ownership, the epistles recommended to slaves that they accept the rule of their masters as their god-given destiny (Ephesians 6:5, 1 Peter 2:18).
Perhaps Saint Agricola was one of the better masters. It seems that having converted to christianity himself, he won over his slave Vitalis only for both of them to face martyrdom under the persecution of Diocletian, Caesar.
Today, November 4th, is the feast of Agricola and Vitalis. If we are in the position of directing workers, let us remember that they are as human as we are, and treat them with the same respect we would wish to receive were our roles reversed. And if we are in the position of providing service, let us do it as if we work for the person we value most highly in our own lives without regard to how they treat us.

The Merry and Medieval ‘Plum Pottage’

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Si Abra en este Baldres by Juan del Encina. Performed by Ensemble la Romanesca.

The Merry and Medieval ‘Plum Pottage’

THarvest time in many cultures is a time about sharing and coming together to celebrate the year’s bounty and the dishes it produces. It’s that time of year where family is in town (or gathered in your village), loved ones are near, and what brings us together? Food. This time of year was especially important in many medieval households, as a time for celebration, giving, and for many to share the best of their kitchens with their guests. Where cooks cook and present their dishes with great pride.
Now what did they eat? or what was served? We have a good idea of what was served from many of the artworks left to us today, as well as recipes that have been passed down, which have their roots in the medieval kitchen. For example, mincemeat tarts or pies, goose, special pies, roasted pig, swan (but only with permission from the crown), stewed vegetables, mulled wines and ale were all presented on the table. Some modern themed cookbooks such as my own inspired by the book series, Game of Thrones, contain recipes with a medieval origin, that are quite fantastic. What is one of the most popular dishes today? I would go with Christmas Pudding.
Christmas pudding is another Christmas tradition which sources say began in the Middle Ages but it might have been earlier than that, as there is a reference to it as far back as Roman times. The traditional name of “Plum Pudding” came later, in the Victorian Era. But the fruit pudding familiar today was known variously as “Plum Porridge, or Pottage” or “Frumenty.”
Like many of the dishes from the Middle Ages which consisted of varieties of meat and raisin dishes; this dish was made from porridge or boiled wheat, raisins or “plums”, eggs, sweetened by molasses or honey, as sugar was very expensive, fruits, currants, dates, then spiced with cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The mixture was kept moist by treacle or molasses. The pudding’s fair alcohol content helped preserve it. It would then be good to eat anywhere from a month to a year after it was made. We start to see variation and addition to the dish as early as 1420, and during the reign of Elizabeth I, plums were introduced as a fruit in the mixture. Due to popularity of the fruit, it was added to many other dishes, hence “Plum Pottage” came to be.
After the pudding was cooked, it was originally hung from a hook in a “pudding cloth.” This was later changed to cooking or boiling/steaming later on. The round little shape it has today topped with holly began to circulate in 1836. This is where the food specifically becomes a Christmas dessert. Originally it was eaten as a topping with pork, much as we use apple sauce today. Authors such as Charles Dickens reference the new popular use in his story adding the dish to a Christmas meal. Cards and printed articles also show families gathered and celebrating the holiday with the pudding dressed with its holly on the table.
On a funny note, both Christmas puddings were outlawed to be eaten in the 17th century by the Commonwealth Parliament. The consumption of the foods were considered “heathenish and a papistical practice.” This silliness was reversed under the rule of Charles II.
historylearningsite.co.uk
NB, Christmas Pudding, It’s Medieval Orgin. The West Austrialian, Dec. 21, 1935 (trove.nla.gov.au)
http://www.historytoday.com/maggie-black/englishmans-plum-pudding

The Unicorn

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the unicorn

The Unicorn in Captivity. One of the series of seven tapestries The Hunt of the Unicorn, 1495-1505. Flanders.

“Je Vivroie Liemente” – Guillaume de Machaut by Anima

The Unicorn

“Save me from the lion’s mouth; for thou hast heard me from the horns of unicorns.”
Psalms 22:21

The legendary unicorn is perhaps one of the most recognizable and well-known mythical beasts known to modern and medieval literature and lore. Since antiquity, the unicorn was a beast with a large, pointed, spiralling horn from its forehead. But the actual description of this “beast” remains unknown, despite pictorial imagery that we have today. The mentioning of the unicorn dates back to ancient seals, arising from the Indus Valley Civilisation, and is further mentioned by the ancient Greek authors in their own natural history accounts. Greek authors such as Ctesias, Strabo, Pliny, the Younger and Aelian all made reference to this fantastical creature. Furthermore, the Bible holds faithfully to the reference of the unicorn as noted in the above Psalm.
Initially, Greek historians placed the origin of the unicorn in India. The earliest reference is recorded by Ctesias in his book, Indika, ‘On India’. Other references follow including Aristotle, and Pliny. Later medieval knowledge of the unicorn also stemmed from its popularity and reference within the Bible and Greek literature.
The unicorn also established roots within European folklore. The beast is depicted as either a white horse or a goat like animal with it’s characteristic long horn, and cloven hooves. Sometimes it even has a goat’s beard. During the Middle Ages, the animal was described as a woodland creature, with associated symbolism of purity and grace, hence only a virgin was capable of capturing it. Some records tell that its horn had properties that could if made into powder, could be used as remedy for poison and curative for illness. The horn of a narwhal during the Middle Ages often was sought as a replica of the unicorn horn and sold to believers.
In depictions of Medieval art and Literature, and famous for their reference to the theme of ‘Entrapment’, as noted by Italian artist and philosopher, Leonardo Da Vinci,
‘The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.’
One of the most famous and well know depictions of the unicorn in context to this idea of entrapment in medieval culture is in the ‘Maiden of Lady and the Unicorn’ (Dame à la licorne) tapestries, now displayed in the Musee De Cluny, Paris, known to be woven in the Netherlands around 1500. Additionally, a series of seven tapestries, ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries held in the Cloisters division in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York also emphasise this common medieval theme.
The unicorn not only made its way to heraldry, and other artistic representation, but today it is a used as the symbol of Scotland. It is a beast that was known to be ‘proud and haughty beast which would rather die than be captured’ resembling the Scots, a people of strong will, strong ties to their own sovereignty, and ultimate desire to be unconquered. The unicorn today rests on the heraldic arms of her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II’s royal arms.

Meet The Instrument: The Organetto

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organetto tapestry

Royal Ladies playing music for a nobleman. Tapestry. 15 cent. Flanders.

Roger Helou: Lavandose Le Mane / Francesco Landini – Che cosa è questa amor.

Meet The Instrument: The Organetto

Also known as the portative organ, the organetto is a pipe organ in miniature, small enough to be supported on one knee or slung from a shoulder strap, the keyboard is played with one hand while the other hand pumps the bellows. Because the instrument does not have an air reservoir, each phrase has to be planned so that the bellows will provide enough air for its completion.
Because the performer has complete control not only over the keyboard, but also the wind supply, it is possible to play with more dynamic expression (the contrast between loud and soft) than is possible with other types of organ not equipped with a swell pedal.
Thank you young man, for assisting so ably in demonstrating this instrument for our audience. Might I ask you to introduce yourself?
“Grazie! Il mio nome è … uh, my name is Francesco da Fiorenza, though some people prefer to call me Blind Francesco – I was robbed of my sight in childhood, but as you can hear, the colors of my world are your sounds. Merciful God has given me many opportunities to serve my fellows in the art of music, may it please you. And may my songs both please your ear and give food to your thoughts. Should any of you be sojourning in Venezia over the next few days, I have been engaged by his grace, the Doge, to perform for the entertainment of his majesty the King of Cyprus.”

Season Of The Witch

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Des Cas des nobles hommes et femmes

The Book of hours: Des Cas des nobles hommes et femmes by Giovanni Boccaccio c. 1480.

Video: ““Floret Silva” by Estampie.

Season Of The Witch

It’s a chilly October morning and still dark when I creep from my warm bed. But that is a small price to pay for being the student of Mother Chandler. In the four months that she has taken me into her home to learn the uses of herbs, stones and enchantments I have earned the right to call her Alice. But only at home. In the fields or in the village, she is still Mother Chandler, the old lady who knows how to coax a baby from a wearying mother who has been in the pains of labor nearly two full days, and how to gently usher a soul dying in pain to a longed-for rest.
Once the fire is kindled up from last night’s glowing embers and the kettle is filled from the bucket, Alice surprises me by rising without my knock. She may have seen fully seventy summers and outlived five children and two husbands but still she treads as quietly as Coal and Cream, her two cats.
“Bring the basket, and bank down the fire to wait an hour or two for us. We go to gather the makings for Arnold Plow’s tea.”
And without another word, she is out of the door leaving me to scamper after her with the basket and a small knife as she strides purposefully up the lane. Stooping down beside the track she cradles a leaf in her hand:
“See how like it is to the shape of a horse’s foot? This is the coltsfoot, good for easing that troubling cough. Now gather two good handfuls and let me see what you pick.”
Alice is very particular about the quality of the materials selected; the leaves should have the right color above, slightly paler below, and be without blemishes or wormeaten. While I have been picking, already she is working her way deeper into the wood and calls me to her:
“Now this is the lungwort, to loosen sticky phlegm. Take a small handful of these.”
After a few minutes, I seek her out for advice.
“I cannot find an unblemished leaf!”
“Fret you not for the spots, they are in the nature of this plant.”
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever learn all the intricacies of healing herbs!

St. Jude Thaddaeus

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Video: “Gabriel Cried Out” by Divna Ljubojevic

St. Jude Thaddaeus

Feastday: October 28
Patron of Desperate causes, desperate situations, lost causes

St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Less, and a relative of Our Saviour. He was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus and his attribute is a club. Images of St. Jude often include a flame around his head, which represent his presence at Pentecost, when he accepted the Holy Spirit alongside the other apostles. Another attribute is St. Jude holding an image of Christ, in the Image of Edessa. Sometimes he can also be seen holding a carpenter’s ruler or is depicted with a scroll or book, the Epistle of Jude. Biblical scholars agree St. Jude was a son of Clopas and his mother Mary was the Virgin Mary’s cousin. Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem. Saint Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Our Lord and despaired because of his great sin and lack of trust in God’s mercy. Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He would not manifest Himself to the whole world after His resurrection. Little else is known of his life. Legend claims that he visited Beirut and Edessa and could have been martyred with St. Simon in Persia.

Source: www.catholic.org

Stuffed Piglet

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XII c. illustration: A peasent slaughtering a pig and singeing off his bristles

Video: Alterslied” composed by Walther von der Vogelweide performed by Eberhard Kummer

Stuffed Piglet – England, XIVc.

There are a large number of medieval recipes in which a pig, goat, or sheep is stuffed. This one is quite easy, especially if an 8 pound portion of pork loin is used instead of a whole piglet. Tie the pork loin closed with string, or wrap it in a netting of fat if you can get one from your local butcher.
Pass eggs through a strainer, discarding any “stringy bits”. Add ground bread and raisins. In a small bowl, mix spices well. Add the spices to the eggs and bread, and mix well. Stuff piglet and bake at 350°F until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (c.70°C).
This recipe is good on its own, but would also be excellent served with a sauce like yellow pepper sauce. This recipe is good on its own, but would also be excellent served with a sauce like yellow pepper sauce.

Ingredients:
4 eggs, 8 slices bread, ground, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, pinch saffron.

Sources: A Noble Boke off Cookry, Liber cure cocorum, Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books

Alfonso X “el Sabio” (1221 – 1284)

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Video: Cantiga(CSM) 156 – Musica Ficta & Ensemble Fontegara

Alfonso X “el Sabio” (1221 – 1284)

Alfonso X “el Sabio (the wise)” (1221-1284) was crowned King of Castile & León in 1252, and became one of the most significant leaders in Spanish history. Known for his learning, he fostered interaction between Christian, Jewish, and Islamic intellectuals, as well as accepted Provençal refugees. His was one of the significant reigns moving toward the reunification of Spain, and was so with an emphasis on tolerance and cultural achievement. Alfonso’s work touched nearly every area of human activity, from science to political reform. His only weakness may have been the impracticality of some of his nobler ideas. The extent of Alfonso’s role in the production of the Cantigas de Santa María is not entirely known. He conceived and supervised the compilation, and it appears that at least some texts are his. Whether he wrote any of the music is unknown, but many of the songs in the collection are certainly contrafacta. Some melodies have been identified as those of troubadour or trouvère songs, and even those of conducti or other scholastic compositions. It is also believed that many are folk tunes adopted for the occasion. The entire project seems to have had a moralistic intent, modifying the words of existing songs to describe instead the deeds & glory of the Virgin Mary.

Taken from www.medieval.org

Hurdy Gurdy

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hurdy gurdy

Hurdy Gurdy players – Symphonia de Cantiga 160, Cantigas de Sta. María de Alfonso X El Sabio, Códice de El Escorial. (1221-1284)

Video: Scottish Medieval (Hurdy Gurdy / Drehleier & Tabla) – by Short Tailed Snails

Hurdy Gurdy

The Hurdy Gurdy, known in France as the Vielle a roue or vielle for short, is an ancient instrument which is undergoing a modern renaissance in Europe and America. First, to dispel a popular misconception: the hurdy gurdy was not played by the organ grinder or his monkey. They used a large music box operated by a crank. Today’s hurdy gurdy is roughly the same as those built in the Middle Ages. It has three to six strings which are caused to vibrate by a resined wheel turned by a crank. Melody notes are produced on one string, or two tuned in unison, by pressing keys which stop the string at the proper intervals for the scale. The other strings play a drone note. Some instruments have a “dog”, “trompette” or “buzzing bridge”. A string passes over a moveable bridge, which by a clever movement of the crank in the open hand, can produce a rasping rhythm to accompany the tune by causing the bridge to hammer on the sound board. The instrument is held in the lap with a strap to hold it steady. The case can be square, lute back, or flat back with a guitar or fiddle shape. Forms of the vielle a roue existed not only in France, but in Germany, Italy, Britain, Russia, Spain and Hungary.
An interesting related instrument is the Swedish nyckelharpa which was developed around the XVI century. It has keys and is played with a short bow. It is enjoying a revival of interest and new custom made instruments are now available. The origins of the hurdy gurdy are unknown but one theory says that when the Moors invaded Spain they brought with them many stringed and bowed instruments. There is no proof that the vielle a roue was one of them, but the possibility exists that something similar arrived in Spain at that time and dispersed throughout Europe along the pilgrim’s roads.

Collected notes by Graham Whyte