Monday, April 4, 2016

going Medieval

We've been going for walks on Mondays of late, listening to pieces of music with the curious title "praeambulum." This is not the same as your standard-issue prelude, which of course, means it comes "before a lude." Incidentally, the German term for this is "vorspiel" and if you'd like a little diversion, Kurt Knecht has a very funny story about what happens when you get lost in translation.

The term "praeambulum" seems to mean to amble ahead of, an instruction which, while charming, is unlikely to have been taken literally, since while if you go back early enough, there was a time when organ keys were big enough to be played with the fist and, not having pedal boards for the feet, you could stand up to play the organ, still, even the portable ones were probably not played whilst walking.

Then again...

One of the functions of a "prelude" or a "praeambulum" seems to be, not to precede a king, but to presage a Divine Service*. Last summer, during my "Medieval period," I played some pieces from one of the earliest sources of keyboard music we have, the "Buxheimer Organ Book." This dates from about a century later than the Robertsbridge Codex, which I've already found a way to complain about in this space.

The Praeaumbulum I'm going to share with you today is one of three that will make their way to the pianonoise catalogue in a week or two. It sounds rather improvised, and it occurs to me that, especially after our rather rapid 20th century jaunt last week, we might enjoy the opportunity to slow down a bit and appreciate the perfect intervals.

Anonymous (from the Buxheimer Organ Book): Praeambulum super C

*of course, God and the King were on a first name basis.

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