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Book: Blondel Medieval Bagpipe Collection 1

Book: Blondel Medieval Bagpipe Collection 1


Trios for three bagpipes in G or other Medieval instruments, arranged by Lizzie Gutteridge.


Kalenda Maya (Paris BN f.fro 22543) is an anonymous dance identified as an estampida within the text. The words were written by Raimbault de Vaqueiras (fl.1180–d.1207) who was a crusader, troubadour and court poet from Provence. He heard the tune of Kalenda Maya being performed and liked it so much he set a poem to the melody. Vaqueiras was present at the siege and capture of Constantinople in 1204, and died pointlessly in another  siege on the Balkan Peninsula 1207. The Ars Nova style was expressive, mannered and often mathematically complicated—a musical manifestation of troubled times and a striking shift away from the style of the previous century. Its greatest exponent was the poet and musician Guillaume de Machaut (1300–1377) whose working career almost exactly spanned that of the movement itself. Je vivroie liement and Douce dame jolie are two of his monophonic virelais, both built around earthy dance-rhythms which are particularly effective on bagpipes.  Allez à la fougère appears uniquely in the Dijon Chansonnier as the lower texted voice of the combinative chanson* Sans jamais/Allez à la fougère. The tune, which is attractively folklike, may have been co-opted into this piece of art-music—although it could equally well have been composed for the occasion. The text of Allez à la fougère exhorts a lover to create a nest in the bracken and rushes by the river, while the upper voice laments the fact that her lover left her pregnant and didn't even say goodbye. The repeat scheme is editorial. Puer nobis nascitur dates back to at least the 14th century, and is almost certainly of a much earlier origin. It appears in the 14th century German manuscript known as the Moosburg Gradual and also in a 15th century manuscript from Trier. The melody was clearly just as popular during the renaissance as it is now. It was first published in the Finnish song book Piae Cantiones in 1582. The hymn became hugely popular in Britain during the early 20th century and was included in the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols as Unto Us a Boy is Born. Hé, mari, mari is based around the tenor of the virelai Contre le temps/Hé, mari, mari. In the original work (which can be found in the Reina Codex) the upper voice gaily trills about the combination of fine weather and the attentions of her lover providing for a joyful and carefree life, while the tenor is far more unsettling to modern ears—a wife rails against her husband for beating her for enjoying “petty pleasures”.
* A popular format in the late fifteenth century in which several apparently incompatible texts and melodies are combined to form one cohesive composition.
Performance note: In each of the arrangements in this collection the original melody is to be found in the top part, whilst the lower voices have been newly composed. It is suggested that, for clarity's sake, in performance the players should experiment with either playing the melody in unison, or against each of the other parts before putting all three lines together. It can also help to double the melody with another instrument such as a recorder, shawm, fiddle or hurdy-gurdy.


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