Photo: Edward McMaihin (Geograph)
Even though Father’s Day is a recent invention, we thought it would be fun to explore early music by drawing inspiration from popular gifts ideas for good ‘ol Dad.
So, what do you give a dad who has everything? You can’t go wrong with something related to his favorite sport, and one activity many fathers enjoy in their spare time is golf.
Sports similar to golf date back to ancient times, and while there is some debate, many historians consider Scotland the birthplace of modern golf. This claim largely rests on a Scottish Act of Parliament in 1457, in which King James II banned soccer and “ye golf” because they were distracting folks from learning defensive skills like archery.
Nowadays, some of the most famous golf courses in Europe reside in the Scottish town of St. Andrews—a town also known for the discovery of a 13th century manuscript of music. Here is sacred music from medieval St. Andrews performed by the ensemble Red Byrd, from their recording, A Scottish Lady Mass.
Another popular gift idea for many fathers is tools, including hammers…
The motet “In hydraulis” by Antoine Busnoys makes reference to hammers—though not the kind used for building tree houses. The text speaks of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras as he discovered the foundational ratios of music by hearing pitches produced by differently weighted hammer strikes.
Busnoys’ motet also paid homage to his teacher Johannes Ockeghem—who may also be considered a father of early music. Ockeghem was very influential in the Renaissance having taught, in addition to Busnoys, many prominent composers including Josquin de Prez, and Jacob Obrecht.
Another popular father’s day gift is cologne. Thankfully, we’re using cologne as a play-on-words—relating it to the German city and to a collection of German and Latin songs from the region around the Rhine River, now found in a manuscript held in Britain known as the Cambridge songs.
This stunning collection of lyric song inspired Benjamin Bagby and the ensemble Sequentia to reconstruct and record some of these songs, which Bagby suggests may have been the repertoire of an anonymous “Rhineland harper.”
Here are Latin songs from a CD called Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper.
Featured release: Music for home performance
Our featured recording brings us home. On the CD Tune thy musicke to thy hart, ensembles Stile Antico and Fretwork collaborated to record devotional music intended for performance in the home—focusing on music by English composers during the rule of the Tudor and Jacobean families.