Østgarðr has a variety of ongoing musical activities. For example, a Recorder Schola meets every few weeks (usually at the home of John and Rufina) to learn recorder technique, medieval and Renaissance repertoire, and a bit of early music theory. And a lady in Manhattan has been running “Sing Things”, informal get-togethers to sing period music; I’ll put more info here when she gives me permission to post it.
Here’s a page of links and information on Medieval and Renaissance Music (so far this is John and Rufina’s stuff)
- First and Third Thursdays in Manhattan: “A Night in the Solar”, Whyt Whey’s A&S gathering. Each meeting is confirmed on the mailing lists of the local groups. We stitch & sing at every gathering, rehearsing seasonal material, both period and society-composed. Stitching includes support with ongoing projects, as well as demonstrations or practicums. Special topics are announced in advance. Directions here; contact Alienor Salton, mka Piglet, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
A note on terminology
for those who found this page through a search engine:
This page uses the term “early music” frequently. People generally use this term to mean one of two things:
- music of a particular chronological period, e.g. pre-1700 or pre-1800 (or, for some people, before the Beatles broke up!)
- music performed in a “historically informed” manner, i.e. using as nearly as possible the instruments, forces, tempi, vocal techniques, etc. current when the music was written (theoretically, this could apply to playing early-1960’s rock with a Telecaster and a 10-watt amp)
This page belongs to the the Crown Province of Østgarðr, a local branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism, whose official focus ends in 1600. So for our purposes, “early music” is medieval or Renaissance, excluding the Baroque and later periods. The Webmaster happens to enjoy playing Bach, Chopin, and even Scott Joplin, but those won’t be discussed on this page.
For more concerts (and a broader definition of “early music”), see
- the polyphony.com listing of concerts in the NYC area;
- the database of early-music concerts in North America maintained by Early Music America
Where do I find sheet music?
One of the most common questions we get: a newcomer plays guitar, or fiddle, or recorder, or sings, and wants to know if there’s any period (i.e. pre-1600) music around for him/her to learn. This is sorta like asking “does anybody know a good place to eat in Manhattan?”: it’s hard to answer without narrowing down the question. But here are some ideas.
- Casazza’s Old Measures
- Joseph Casazza’s arrangements of the melodies of “Inns of Court” dances (Elizabethan English), freely downloadable (retaining his copyright to the arrangements)
- Casazza’s Arbeau
- Joseph Casazza’s article about Arbeau’s Orchesography, including his arrangements of many of Arbeau’s dance tunes. Again, freely downloadable although he retains copyright.
- Paul Butler’s arrangements
- Paul Butler (ska Master Arden of Icomb) has arranged a number of medieval and Renaissance pieces, and made them freely available for performance and distribution within the SCA
- Steve Hendricks’s arrangements
- Steve Hendricks has done multi-part arrangements of hundreds of Renaissance dance tunes; this page lists them all, in a convenient tabular format.
- the Choral Public Domain Library
- a massive collection of copyright-free vocal music from all eras, categorized by time period, genre, number of voices, etc. Only a few dozen medieval pieces as of this writing, but thousands of Renaissance pieces.
- Your local college or University library
- More useful than most public libraries for this purpose (although see the NYPL Performing Arts Library, below). Since most academic libraries use the Library of Congress cataloguing system, you’ll probably want call numbers starting with M2, which includes music scores from all periods. You’ll still need to know what you’re looking for, but once you find it you can generally photocopy the relevant pages in the library under the “fair use doctrine” (depending on what you plan to use it for).
- the Performing Arts Collection of New York Public Library
- at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. A world-class collection of performing-arts materials (music, theatre, dance, film, etc.), many of which can be checked out with your NYPL card. Even if you don’t have an NYPL card, you can walk in and browse the collections; it’s much friendlier than the 42nd-Street main library.
- Other early-music hobbyists
- If you see or hear somebody playing or singing early music at an SCA event, an American Recorder Society workshop, a Renaissance faire, etc, they probably have lots of printed music at home, and some with them. Most of these folks, including John & Rufina, love to talk about their interests and hobbies, so strike up a conversation (unless they’re rehearsing for a performance in a few minutes) and you’ll probably get more information than you know what to do with.
On-line reference sources on early music
- The public radio show Here of a Sunday Morning has a series of articles about various periods of music. A good way to get a quick view of different styles and genres.Some articles are on the site but don’t have links to them on the “Periods” page mentioned above. One of those is The Ars Nova in England.
- The Indiana University page for general music resources
- The Early Music Network, an international early music society. Site includes a concert calendar, jobs board, instrumental rental board, collection of links, used instrument marketplace, news, etc.
- La Trobe University’s Database of 14th-century European Music
- La Trobe University’s Medieval Music Database
- Online Encyclopedia: Cynthia J. Cyrus’s Introduction to Medieval Music (also points to her articles on Women in Medieval Music, Church Modes, etc.)
- An overview of medieval music from the University of Calgary’s Applied History Research Group
- Todd McComb’s awesome Early Music FAQ (check out the recording reviews…)
- FreeDB, a database of MP3 files, including some early ones. (I have no idea how copyright-legal this site is; use at your own risk.)
- An elegant, concise Early Music Glossary
Museum Exhibits on early music
- The music room of the Library of Congress’s Vatican Exhibit. (Lots of scanned medieval and Renaissance manuscripts of or about music.)
- Technical Drawings of Musical Instruments in Museums
- The Shrine to Music, a museum in Vermilion, South Dakota
Pages for Specific Instruments
- The Viola da Gamba Society of America
- The American Recorder Society
- The Historic Brass Society
- Paul Schmidt’s Serpent Website
- The Lute Society of America
- The [U.K.] Lute Society
- The Historic Harp Society
- Cheryl Ann Fulton’s Practical Advice on Playing the Medieval Harp
- The Gaelic Harp
- Greg and Carolyn Priest-Dorman’s Saxon Lyre Page
- Paul Butler’s Rebec Page–the pictures take a while to load, but it’s worth it….
- Nicholas Lander’s encyclopedic Recorder Page, in particular The Medieval Recorder–a Must-See!
- The indefatigable Mr. Lander has also written a Krumhorn Page
- Whether you call this early bassoon-ancestor a Dulcian, a Curtal, or a Fagott, here’s a page for it
- Dennis Sherman (Robyyan Torr d’Elandris) has Webbed a lot of material about Pipe and Tabor, which are popular with SCA musicians, Morris dancers, and jes’ plain taborers.
- Medieval Organ History
- How to Build a Portative Organ
- Historical Percussion
- A Hurdy-Gurdy page
- A history of Brass Instruments in Western Europe
- Instruments for Medieval Music. Most of the text is in French, but there are lots of good pictures and MIDI files too.
- Brenda Johnstone looks at Renaissance wind ensembles on her Pifarri Page
- History of the Guitar
Pages about Early Music Performance Practice
- The Performance Practice Encyclopedia
- “Resurrecting Early Music: from Manuscript to Compact Disc
- Pierol’s Vielle: Instrumental Participation in the Troubadour Repertory
We’ve done business with some, but not all, of these companies. Inclusion in this list does not constitute an endorsement by the Webmaster, the Crown Province of Østgar?r, the Society for Creative Anachronism, or anybody else. If you’re considering buying anything from these merchants, please do some research before shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars.
- The Early Music Shop, the U.K.’s “Early Music Instrument Specialists to the World…”
- The Boulder Early Music Shop.
- Boston Catlines, aka Olav Chris Henrikson, sells gut strings for musical instruments. Simple strings are sold in 3-meter lengths (know the exact diameter you want before you contact him), while twisted catlines are made to order.
- William Monical, a highly-regarded maker and repairer of Renaissance and Baroque bowed-string instruments, conveniently located at 288 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island. (The last time I was there, I glanced at the pile of papers on his desk and saw an envelope labelled “Yo Yo Ma Bridge”.)
- Von Huene Workshop/Early Music Shop of New England.
- Antique Sound Workshop
- Kelischek Workshop for Historical Instruments
- Lark in the Morning
- Owen Morse-Brown, a UK-based maker of early stringed instruments.
- Peter Noy, a maker of early flutes and recorders.
- Philippe Bolton, another maker of early flutes and recorders.
- Ancient Instruments
- Antico Editions, which sells sheet music including a lot of medieval and Renaissance stuff.
- Oberlinger Organ Works, a German company that builds mechanical-action organs. Note particularly the Copies and Reconstructions of Historical Instruments
Early music on the radio
in and around NYC
There’s not a lot, frankly, but here are the programs we’ve found so far.
- “The Early Music Show” on WKCR, 89.9 FM, 9:30 AM-12 noon Fridays.
- “Here of a Sunday Morning” on WBAI, 99.5 FM, 9-11 AM Sundays.
- “Sound and Spirit” on WNYC, 93.9 FM, 7-8 AM Sundays, is not, strictly speaking, an early music program, but early music frequently appears on the playlist.
- WQXR, a classical station whose daytime DJ, Jeff Spurgeon, mixes in a significant amount of medieval and Renaissance music too.
elsewhere around the country
I’m sure there are many more than these, but I know that these are available in syndication, so there’s some hope of persuading a local radio station to pick them up. Except, of course, for the “if it’s not from New York, it’s CRAP!” phenomenon….
- Angela Mariani‘s Harmonia, a weekly program (Thursdays 9:00-10:00 PM EST) from Indiana University’s renowned Early Music Institute (available free on satellite).
- Ross Duffin‘s Micrologus (which actually ran only from 1981-1998, but reruns are available).
- Robert Aubry Davis‘s Millennium of Music, a weekly program (Sundays 10:00-11:00 PM Eastern time) on Washington, DC’s WETA. Davis also plays early music on the digital satellite radio channel XM Radio 112.
- Early Music Classical Fiasco, a weekly program (Sundays from 7-9 PM Pacific time, i.e. 10-midnight in New York) on KXLU. I think the first hour is early music, and the second hour is “unusual classical and world music”, but I haven’t actually listened to the program yet.
- Treasury of Early Music, a Web-radio station specializing in Medieval, Renaissance, and early Baroque music.
Various individuals’ and groups’ pages on early music
- A page concerned with SCA music and dance
- Steve Hendricks’s miscellaneous articles and album reviews
Pages for Specific Composers or Genres
- Gregorian Chant on the World Wide Web
- “Leonin: The Source”
- From Sibyl of the Rhine to New-Age icon, Hildegard von Bingen has inspired a host of Web pages…
- Alan Pope’s timeline of Troubadours and Trouveres (also contains a bunch of other links on medieval music, medieval technology, etc.)
- Minnesang–Medieval German Sung Poetry
- Database of 14th-century European Music
- The International Guillaume de Machaut Society Home Page
- Medieval Music of Cyprus
- Ars Subtilior, Music of the Late Medieval Period
- A Fifteenth-Century Music Reference Page
- “Guillaume Dufay–A Bridge to the Renaissance”
- The Johannes Ockeghem Home Page
- Another article about Ockeghem
- A page for Michael Praetorius
- An overview of Music of the English Renaissance
Pages with Photos and Sound Files of Early Instruments
- Music 20 Online: the Web page for a music-history course at the University of Pennsylvania. Includes a number of RealPlayer files of medieval and Renaissance music.
- Diabolus in Musica, a British duo of (primarily Elizabethan) performers and instrument-makers with a very well-designed Web site. Check out their guide to instruments.
- Musica Antiqua’s Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments
- The Internet Renaissance Band