Great Music from the Renaissance and Baroque. These 33 great pieces will Capture your Imagination
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Many of the dances found in the Playford collections also appear in earlier sources. John Playford was not a composer. He was a collector and publisher. His publications were meant to teach the dances and also provide the melodies. Today he might have had a CD with the book, but back then, they were always dependent on musicians for the music which was of course always live. In the books there were detailed instructions on how to do the dances as well as the music with which the musicians could accompany the dancers.
I have put these pieces in keys that are suitable for the mandolinist and for the person who might accompany them. To make the pieces playable on the mandolin, I try and make the notes fall under the fingers and I use keys that favor the open strings, as open strings sound great on plucked instruments. I have also picked what I feel to be the most attractive pieces I could find. I hope you will become addicted to the music in this book.
The accompaniments I have used on the guitar are fairly simple for the most part, just a texture to keep a rhythm and make it fun to play the melodies with. Most of the pieces have two measures of an intro on the guitar. There are one or two that might have one or more than two as it just didn't sound right to have two. This will be easy to get used to.
1. Goddesses - I like this piece very much. I have heard that it is also found in "The Fitzwilliam Virginal Books" which would also make it a Renaissance piece, but I have looked and don't see the title. Of course the Fitzwilliam books are huge and there are hundreds of pieces and it could be in there with no name as many pieces in the book have no titles.
2. Ancient Song - A haunting piece that can go very slow. I would think this would be a great tune for fairs and re-enactments. One could use it to set the tone. It's also easy to memorize. For most of the pieces in this book I have used a fairly simple guitar part. There are a few pieces where I became more involved. This is one of them. I harmonized it with melodies. I also have a version at the end of the CD using a slow tremolo. It makes a very nice introduction to learning the tremolo and is not that hard to do slow.
3. Greensleeves and Pudding Pies - The Greensleeves we are most familiar with is in 3/4. This one and the ones that show up most commonly in the Renaissance are in 6/8, so it will sound a bit different than what you are used to. I like this one very much, and I also like the name.
4. Adson's Saraband - I know nothing about this piece other than it's found in Playford. I did have fun writing the variation though, and I like the piece quite a bit.
5. Grimstock - Grimstock goes way back. It is found in many lute manuscripts and I also think I saw it in the Fitzwilliam Virginal book. By the way, in case you don't know what a Virginal is, it's a small keyboard that sounded a bit like a harpsichord. It's a lot smaller and could be lifted up and carried from room to room. William Byrd played and composed for the Virginal. He was an incredible composer.
6. Childgrove - The only source I know of for Childgrove is Playford, which makes me think how in debt we are to John Playford for taking the time to both collect and publish his books of dance music. I wonder how many tunes have been lost over time. This is a beautiful piece and the variation was fun to create.
7. Parson's Farewell - I had a lot of fun creating the accompaniment for this one. For most of the pieces, I do not write out the parts, I listen to the piece and improvise the guitar parts. For some pieces I have tried to write out a part, and this is my preferred way to work, but I often find that I like what I do when I "wing it" better. This is one of the later.
8. Apley House - Here is a lively piece that will work for a medieval fair or a re-enactment. It's the type of piece that you can play over and over again, and it's also a good piece to write a variation for. You will have such a great feeling when you write something that you like. Why not try it today?
9. Iantha - I think it's important in this piece, and with most accompaniments of early music, for the guitarist to leave out the 3rd of the chord. This means that if it's an E chord, the accompanist will play the E and B and leave out the G sharp. It's easy to figure out what a chord is made of. It's the tonic (in this case that would be the E) the third above and the fifth above. You can count on your fingers starting with E... E, F, G, A, B. so the root or tonic is the E and the fifth is a B. Fifths sound great in early music.
10. Jenny Pluck Pears - This is one of my favorite Playford pieces. Often you will hear measures nine through 16 played halftime, but I don't like that very much and I feel it breaks up the piece. It's fun to play along with the guitar part on the CD.
11. Sweet Kate - Sweet Kate is another perfect example of a beautiful piece of which I know nothing about. It's not that I'm so much of a dope, (which I may be) but there appears to be no information available for many pieces. The only source I know for this piece is Playford, and there are literally hundreds of pieces in this collection for which there are no other sources. It's fun to play and it's a beautiful piece.
12. Lilt Ladie Ann Gordon - Finally... something I know something about. This is from the "Straloch Lute Book" and I have played it on both the lute and guitar. It's a lovely tune. The "Straloch Lute Book" is one of the few sources of early music from Scotland and it contains only tablature for the lute.
13. A Toy - A toy is a piece that the performer would play with, they would play the theme, then improvise or remember variations they have written. I wrote a variation for this one, and you can try writing your own. The source for this piece is "Jane Pickering's Lute Book." It's very interesting to play old music for the lute from the source. I love the sound of lute pieces on the mandolin.
14. Daphne - This particular setting is from Playford, but there are many settings of this melody by many composers that go back to the Renaissance. You can find many sources for this piece; it reminds me a bit of "Greensleeves" and is a lot of fun to play. It was probably a popular melody of the Renaissance.
15. Untitled Piece - There is a lot of flexibility in the way you play most of these pieces. This piece, for example, sounds great both played very slowly and also played quickly. It's important to keep an open mind and not get tied into one way of playing a piece. This is a lute piece from the Rowallan Lute Manuscript and another example of an early Scottish lute piece that sounds terrific on the mandolin.
16. Bransle - A Bransle is a French dance that is found throughout the Renaissance and also in later sources. They are a lot of fun to play. On the lute or guitar one can play both the basses and the melody at the same time. There are many sources for these pieces and many composers who seemed to like writing them including myself.
17. Early Dance - This piece can be a tremendous amount of fun to play, and its driving tempo can be a lot of fun for medieval fairs, re-enactments or your parlor. This piece can withstand a lot of repetitions and I believe it will get people's attention.
18. Early Renaissance Song - This is a haunting little tune that I find to be fun to play with the CD. Please note that this CD is designed so you can turn either channel down and play along with the guitar without having to hear the mandolin on the other track. Simply push the balance all the way over to one side and you hear just the guitar, the other and you hear just the mandolin.
19. The Virgin Queen - This tune is very similar to pieces with the titles of "Mad Moll" and "Brose and Butter." The time signature is 9/8 which is a little different than what we usually encounter, and it has a nice feel to it. This particular version is from the Playford collection.
20. Bianco Fiore - This is a lute piece and I took it from a facsimile of the manuscript. The mandolin sounds great playing it. The end is interesting because of the tempo change. I liked it so much that I had to add a bit to it to extend it as I found it to be too short.
21. La Bergamasca - This is an extremely popular melody that can be found all through the Renaissance and into the Baroque period. There are several settings I know of for the lute, and many for keyboard. Resphigi used a Bergamasca melody written for Baroque lute for part of his "Ancient Airs and Dances."
22. I'll Love No More - This is just a beautiful melody and a lot of fun to play. It's from Playford and I know nothing else about it other than I enjoy playing it.
23. A Song of May Time - I have a special place in my heart for this tune. The reason is that I currently live in Northeast NY. It's December as I write this and it's about 22 degrees Fahrenheit. So I like songs about May, and actually, I also like songs about hot humid weather and I wish I was somewhere warm right now. Winter is so tedious. If you live somewhere warm and love it, drop me a note and let me know. My e-mail is email@example.com
24. An Italian Rant - This melody from the Playford collection is very similar to a piece I used in the "Renaissance Music for Mandolin" book titled "La Mantovana" This piece is a country dance, "La Mantovana" was a very popular Italian melody that was spread throughout Europe and even into the Ukraine. 25.	Kemp's Jig - Will Kemp was bet that he could not jig a hundred miles. The story is that he in fact did it, and a story about it and this tune survives. It is a very popular renaissance tune. This setting I took from the lute tablature. It's a lot of fun to play and it will get the attention of your audience.
26. Deus Que Mui Ben Barata (Cantiga 182) - Another of the "Cantigas de Santa Maria" collected by King Alfonso de Sabio. I love these pieces as you can tell if you have "Medieval Music for Mandolin Vol II" I love the feel of these pieces. I find them quite addictive.
27. Ben Pod'a Sennor Sen Par (Cantiga 101) - These melodies are very early. Most of them date from at least 1200 AD, and there are many that date from a much earlier time. Even though they are really mostly songs in praise of Mary, there are many of the pieces that are originally pagan tunes that were adapted to cantigas. I think quite a few of them have a pagan sound.
28. Blessed Be That Maid Marie - This is actually a Christmas song which dates back to the Renaissance. It's a wonderful melody and it was a great piece to write variations for. I first did them on the lute, then adapted them for both the guitar and mandolin.
29. Sumer is Icumen in - If you would like a translation of this Medieval title it is "Summer is a Coming In." I wish summer were here! I'm sure it's about 16 degrees outside about now. Musical historians believe that this piece is the oldest round in existence. You know what a round is, "row, row, row your boat..." Well, this is the first one. All you have to do is to let the piece start, and then come in on measure three.
30. Allemande - If you have not heard the music of Hermann Schein, you are in for a treat. He has written several suites for melody instruments. There are usually four or five parts and the suites are just lovely. Often they are hard to transcribe for one instrument because there is so much going on, but if you are looking for ensemble music, look up Hermann Schein or "Banchetto Musicale" which is the name of his collection of dance music.
31. Calleno Custure Me - This is from an old lute manuscript. It's a very easy lute piece. If you own a guitar and find a copy of the tablature, you can just tune the third string down a half step and read the tablature right on the guitar. This works with any lute piece and the only problem one might encounter is having to play a few bass notes up an octave.
32. Bransle Charlotte - This piece was collected by Thoinot Arbeau and is found in his collection "Orchesography" which was an instructional dance book published in the Renaissance. It's an interesting piece in a number of ways. Each measure doesn't have the same number of beats. This gives it an unusual feel and once you get used to this, it's a lot of fun to play. The Arbeau collection is a great source of music including a melody from the Renaissance you would recognize as "Ding Dong Merrily on High." In the book it is not referred to as a Christmas piece, it's just something to dance to.
33. O Flauta de Santa Maria - Earlier I mentioned canons. Well here is a piece that I harmonized by just making a canon out of it. So when the mandolin is playing the second measure, I'm playing the first measure on the guitar. We are playing the same notes, but the mandolin is one measure ahead of the guitar. This is a piece where the guitar only has one measure before the mandolin starts.
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The music is presented in both music notation and mandolin TAB (for people that do not read music). The music notation is clear and crisp. This book will help you to learn the tunes quickly whether you depend on the tablature or the music.
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The CD, played by Allan Alexander, gives the musician the advantage of being able to hear how these songs can be played and will make the learning process easier. This is a high quality Digital recording (DDD). In addition to helping the player become familiar with the music, it will also be a source of listening pleasure. You can also turn down either channel (mandolin or guitar) and play along with the CD.
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This book came about because I have had many requests for more early dance music. Many of the pieces in this book are from the Playford collections. The Playford collections were published in the early Baroque period, but many of the pieces in the books already existed
in the Renaissance. They are used by dance groups and also by many people for Renaissance Fairs and re-enactments. I have also used other sources to have more of a variety of music. The Playford collections were always being revised, changed and republished. If you have one of the earlier printed editions, the music in a later edition is going to have different music from the previous editions. Pieces disappear and others take their place. There is also detailed instruction on how to do the dances in the Dancing Master. The point of the music in this book is the same as always. I want to find pieces that you cannot stop playing. I want to addict you to the Music!
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