Three hundred, fifty years ago, Jacques Champion de Chambonnières, a French harpsichordist and dancer, composed Les Pieces de Clavessin de Monsieur de Chambonnieres or Harpsichord Pieces.
Due to lack of manuscript sources, little is known about French harpsichord music of the first half of the 17th century and Chambonnières emerges as the sole, major composer of the time with a large surviving oeuvre (works of art). Some 150 pieces are extant, almost all of them dances. Sixty were published by the composer, himself, in 1670 in two volumes of Les Pièces de Clavessin and the rest are known through some 20 manuscript sources, most of which were discovered only in the mid and late 20th century.
Since the exact course of evolution of the classic French harpsichord style remains a mystery, it is impossible to ascertain the role Chambonnières played in establishing said style. He was obviously influenced by the French lute school, adapting its style brisé to the harpsichord and he may have been among the first to do so. Another important influence was a thorough grounding in counterpoint, probably transmitted from his grandfather Thomas through his father.
[The] Pièces de Clavecin (published 1670) reflect in style and texture the compositions of the noted lutenist-composer Denis Gaultier and thus emphasize the roots of the early harpsichord style in lute music. The Pièces are highly ornamented, and rich in harmony, and are grouped by key into suites of dances […] and miniature pieces with fanciful titles. There is no thematic relationship between the movements of a single suite, the aim being rather for contrast within a given key. Chambonnières was one of the first to attach tables of ornaments to his works, indicating the manner of performance of the many embellishments so vital to his free-voiced style.
It appears that he had lavish tastes and struggled financially because of it. He lived beyond his means and died in poverty two years after his Harpsichord Pieces.
Additional Reading & Sources:
Jacques Champion de Chambonnières (Britannica)
Jacques Champion, Sieur de Chambonnières (Here of a Sunday Morning Site)
Chambonnières, Jacques Champion, Sieur de (Oxford Music Online)
List of Compositions (Wikipedia)
These are, roughly, two & half hours long, taken together.
The first one has a minute’s worth of spoken French at the beginning.
“The only comfort is the moving of the river…”
Saturday night’s playlist submission is Ice by Sarah McLachlan. The 8th track from her album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, it was never released as a single so, there is no chart information. Sarah was already a star in her native Canada but, this album was her breakthrough in the US, exploding on the scene when her first track, Possession was released. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1968, she was playing music, early, starting with a ukulele at age four. In high school, she was the singer for the short-lived band The October Game and, after finishing a year in college, signed a recording contract with Nettwerk without having written a single song.
This is another album/CD I have worn out. I can remember when Possession showed up on the radio and I first heard it. I was driving home from work and immediately went looking for her album. Her music has been used in many television shows and I remember her being on Charmed. Notable movies using her songs are City of Angels, Message in a Bottle, The Brave One and Four Christmases.
“She may be one good reason to leave but, I’m a hundred reasons to stay…”
This Sunday’s playlist submission is Hands Tied by American pop rock band Scandal, formed in 1981 in New York City by guitarist Zack Smith…and not to be confused with the Japanese band or the Australian band. Written by Holly Knight and Mike Chapman, it was the third track from the album Warrior (featuring Patty Smyth). I can’t find a release date but, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 on October 20, 1984, and peaked at #41 on December 1st. It also peaked at #21 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks on the same day.
This album was the very first CD I ever owned. It was a gift and, up until that point, I only had vinyl, 45s and cassettes. I wore this one out, too. The band called it quits in 1985 but, reformed in 2004 and are still active. The song Love’s Got A Line On You from their debut EP Scandal was on the soundtrack to the 1983 movie Easy Money and Smyth was a solo artist on soundtracks for Caddyshack II & Armageddon. Other songs have appeared in additional movies and TV.
Patty Smyth & Scandal (Official Site)
Three hundred, eighty years ago, the Libro quarto d’intavolatura di chitarrone (Fourth Book of Chitarrone Tablature) was published. Composed by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger), a highly skilled German–Italian early-Baroque musician, it consists of 12 toccatas, 16 preludes, 10 passacaglias, 5 chaconnes, along with other pieces including variations, canzonas & dances. Kapsberger was known for lute & theorbo (chitarrone) mastery. He was in the service of Cardinal Francesco Barberini by 1624, working along side Girolamo Frescobaldi and Stefano Landi, as well as the future Pope Clement IX.
Some of his contemporaries, including Landi, criticized Kapsberger’s composing skill. Due to his unusual rhythmic groupings, sharp contrasts and non-conforming to the rules of counterpoint, it was suggested that he was an inferior composer. A current lutenist, Rolf Lislevand commented in liner notes in 1993:
“Kapsberger was as bad a composer as he was a fine instrumentalist […]. The ideas are often badly developed and are freely associated with one another […]. [N]o real musical discourse is built up […] the rhythm, even after serious efforts at fathoming it, wavers between inspired cleverness and total confusion.
Despite the above complaints, Kapsberger greatly contributed towards advancing European plucked string instruments of the time. At least six collections were published during his lifetime, two of which are currently lost.
There is very little else written about this specific composition. ~Vic
As far as I am concerned, there is nothing to celebrate. I wake up everyday hoping the worldwide madness has ended. Nope. Same shit, different day. I await the latest Walking Dead episodes (whenever they resume) with the zombies wearing masks. Oh. Look. Art imitates life… *sigh*
I am posting a favorite song of mine, appropriate for the day, from a powerful voice. I sincerely hope that there will be a day of reckoning for what has been done. ~Vic
“Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today, is a day of reckoning
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay, it’s Independence Day”
“Somehow I see, there are ships in her eyes…”
This Saturday’s playlist submission was never released as a single and it never charted…anywhere. It’s the last track, number 12, on the original 1997 debut release of Your Body Above Me by Black Lab. An alternative rock band founded in San Franciso, CA, in 1995 by Paul Durham, the band’s name is an amalgam of band names Black Sabbath and Stereolab. The album did have two hits, one of which peaked at #6 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
There is not a bad song on this album and I nearly wore out my CD. I took notice of them when an alternative rock station showcased their first track (the #6 hit). I love Paul Durham‘s voice and, the band has had many songs used in movies and television, most notably Spider-Man (2002), Blade: Trinity and Transformers.
Jumping into the 1620s…
[The English ballad], The Ballad of Chevy Chase, [tells] the story of a large hunting party upon a parcel of hunting land (or chase) in the Cheviot Hills (a range of rolling hills straddling the Anglo-Scottish border between Northumberland and the Scottish Borders), hence the term, Chevy Chase. The hunt is led by Percy, the English Earl of Northumberland. The Scottish Earl Douglas had forbidden this hunt and interpreted it as an invasion of Scotland. In response, he attacked, causing a bloody battle [where] only 110 people survived.
There are two extant ballads […], both of which narrate the same story. As ballads existed within oral tradition[s] before being written down, other versions of this once popular song also may have existed. Moreover, other ballads used its tune without necessarily referring to [this particular ballad].
This ballad was entered in the Stationers’ Register in 1624. The title is alternatively spelled Chevy Chace. The ballad is generally thought to describe the Battle of Otterburn. Some of the verses correspond to that battle but, not all. The Battle of Otterburn took place in 1388. At that [b]attle, Henry Percy (Hotspur) was captured, not killed. He was killed in 1403 in an uprising against Henry IV.
[A]nother possibility [was] border warfare between a Percy and a Douglas in 1435 or 1436. Henry Percy of Northumberland made a raid into Scotland with 4,000 men. He was met by William Douglas, Earl of Angus at Piperden. There were great losses on each side but, the Scots prevailed.
Over time, and the various evolutions of the ballad, events and personages have gotten confused.
Additional Reading & Sources:
The Naming of Chevy Chase (Chevy Chase Historical Society)
Chevy Chase (Contemplations From the Marianas Trench)
Battle of Chevy Chase (Douglas History UK)
The Battle of Chevy Chase (Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature)
Who or What is Chevy Chase? (The Straight Dope)
Battle of Otterburn (Wikipedia)
The Ballad of Chevy Chase (Wikipedia)
The Ballad of Chevy Chase (A Cappella)
The Battle of Otterburn Ballad
“I think it’s strange you never knew…”
Sunday evening’s playlist submission is Fade Into You by alternative band Mazzy Star. Released April 12, 1994, it is the first track on the album So Tonight That I Might See. Written by Hope Sandoval and David Roback, it was a surprise hit, peaking at #44 on Billboard’s Hot 100, #19 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart, #3 on the Modern Rock Tracks (Alternative Songs, now) chart and #48 on the UK Singles chart. It was Mazzy Star‘s only single to make to make the Billboard Hot 100. It has been used, frequently, in movies, most notably Starship Troopers, Lord of War, Burlesque and Thank You For Your Service plus several TV shows.
I’d never heard of Mazzy Star or heard this song when it originally came out. I am late to the party finding this, just discovering them a few years ago. Sadly, David Roback passed away February 24, 2020, from cancer.
“Too young to know, too old to listen…”
Saturday evening’s playlist submission is Early Warning by Australian band Baby Animals. The second track from their debut album Baby Animals, it was released on April 21, 1991, as their debut single. Written by Suze DeMarchi, Dave Leslie and Eddie Parise, the song was nominated for Single of the Year and Song of the Year in 1992 by the Australian Recording Industry Association. The album was awarded Album of the Year at The Arias Awards.
I discovered this band when their third track Painless was released in the US in November 1991. Suze’s voice is stunning and powerful and, her band is as hard rocking as any from Downunder. I bought the CD and there’s not a bad song on it. It deserved Album of the Year. They broke up in 1996 but, reformed in 2007. They continue to perform and record.
Baby Animals Channel From 1992
MTV’s Video From 1991
Four hundred, twenty years ago, Renaissance composer, lutenist and singer John Dowland (a contemporary of William Shakespeare) publishes his Second Book of Songs in London. There were 22 song titles in the book and the most well known of these is Flow, My Tears. Written as an aria and for a lute, its style and form is based on a pavane, a slow, couple-dance common in the 16th century. It’s original 1596 title was Lachrimae Pavane (literally “tears dance”) and Dowland added lyrics later.
Additional Reading & Sources:
John Dowland (Edition HH Music Publishers)
John Dowland Part I (Millenium of Music)
John Dowland Biography (Study Website)
Lachrimae: Continental Context (University of London Goldsmiths)
Flow, My Tears (Wikipedia)
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Wikipedia)
Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.
Down vain lights, shine you no more!
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their last fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.
Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days, my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.
From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts, for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.
Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world’s despite.
“If you don’t stop, you will go blind…”
Rolling down the Samsung playlist for a Sunday evening submission, we come to Adam Ant or, Stuart Leslie Goddard and Desperate But Not Serious. The fourth track from the album Friend or Foe, it was co-written by Goddard and Marco Pirroni and, released November 19, 1982, the third single from his solo debut. This is the album that brought us Goody Two Shoes that went to number #1 in Australia and the UK. Desperate didn’t fare as well peaking at #33 in the UK and #66 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
I bought the album as a cassette and nearly wore it out. This is what I term as eclectic music. It’s different, it’s catchy, Goddard has a crazy voice that he plays to the hilt and the writing is very coy and, tongue-in-cheek. He will be at The Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, April 28, 2021. I’ve been to that venue many times. I would love to see him there.
I hope you enjoy