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.
Mazzy Star Official (Facebook Page)
“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.
Moving forward to 1580…
A widespread belief exists that the song Greensleeves was composed by none other than King Henry VIII following an early rejection of his love by his future wife Anne Boleyn. The lyrics of this song of unrequited love have been seen to relate to his courtship of Anne in the 1520s. Many of the verses of Greensleeves imply a rich and extravagant courtship […]. Henry VIII was a composer and musician of some merit […]. [C]ourt officials […] attribute to Henry many compositions which were not his and the consensus of expert opinion, today, is that Greensleeves was composed rather later in the Tudor era, during the reign of Anne Boleyn’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. [T]he piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry’s death […].
A broadside ballad […] was registered at the London Stationer’s Company in September [of] 1580, by [a] Richard Jones, as A Newe Northern Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves. Six more ballads followed in less than a year, one on the same day […]. Needless to say the rights to the song were in very hot dispute. It was in 1584 that Jones printed his final version of the melody and this is the one we know today. It was titled A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves […].
Who was Lady Greensleeves
[W]hy would anyone be named for their green sleeves? Interpretations […] usually have a sexual connotation, most notably in the phrase “a green gown”, a reference to the grass stains on a woman’s dress from engaging in sexual intercourse outdoors. Was this lady a prostitute? [T]he song lyrics mention a “discourteous” rejection of the singer’s advances, suggesting to some that the lady in question was actually virtuous but, perhaps, was mistaken for a prostitute as a result of her green sleeves. [A]nother explanation is quite the opposite to promiscuity […]. [I]n heraldry, colour also had symbolisms and green indicated truth and fidelity […]. [A] knight may give a green armband to his true love to wear to show his devotion to her, giving rise to the familiar phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve” meaning, to show your true feelings.
None of these theories, however, really seem to reflect the song’s true meaning, which clearly expresses an unrequited love by a rich man for a fair lady. All that we can confidently deduce, is that “Lady Greensleeves” is a nickname, not a title. Exactly who she was, remains a mystery.
♦ In Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, the character Mistress Ford refers, twice, to “the tune of ‘Greensleeves'”.
♦ The tune was the basis for “Home in the Meadow,” a recurring song throughout the 1962 epic film How the West Was Won.
♦ A rendering of the tune, titled the “Lassie Theme”, was used extensively in the Lassie television show, especially the ending credits.
Everyone will remember this tune as What Child Is This? ~Vic
“It’s only teenage wasteland…”
It’s another visit to my Samsung phone playlist.
A blending of two names, Meher Baba and Terry Riley (philosophical and musical mentors to Pete Townsend), Baba was introduced to the world in August 1971 and was the lead track on the album Who’s Next. Written by Townsend, it was originally intended for his Lifehouse rock opera, a future follow-up to Tommy. That never came to pass but, a Lifehouse Chronicles box set was released in 2000.
The song was never released as a single in the UK or the US but, was certified platinum in the UK, anyway. It was chosen as the main theme for the TV series CSI: NY. The album peaked at #1 in the UK and #4 in the US.
Sadly, Keith Moon passed away seven years later.
Changing things a bit. I’ve got Music Mondays and I’ve had Tune Tuesdays (I may return to that) that showcase music by release date, in five year increments (if I can). Early on, I listed number ones, only. There was also my jump into the 30-Day Song Challenge back in December 2018. Now, I’m stretching Saturday out a bit for some music, too…an idea I got from the Nostalgic Italian. I might even stretch it to Sunday, if I take a notion to. It just depends upon my mood. All blogs evolve and, I’m always looking for new and different things.
This is a song on my playlist on my phone. I have a lot of music on my phone…things that I love to hear when I go out for my afternoon and evening walks or, just sitting in my Adirondack chair, watching the sunset. ~Vic
From Mix Online:
Paich recalls writing Africa on his living room piano.
“Over many years, I had been taken by the UNICEF ads with the pictures of Africa and the starving children. I had always wanted to do something to connect with that and bring more attention to the continent. I wanted to go there, too, so, I sort of invented a song that put me in Africa. I was hearing the melody in my head and, I sat down and played the music in about 10 minutes. And, then, the chorus came out. I sang the chorus out as you hear it. It was like God channeling it. I thought, ‘I’m talented but, I’m not that talented. Something just happened here!'”
Paich, then, proceeded to work on the lyrics for another six months. He brought the skeleton to drummer Jeff Porcaro with the idea of having percussion being an integral part of the composition.
“Jeff got out African sticks with bottle caps that his dad (Joe Porcaro) and Emil Richards (both percussionists) used on National Geographic films. He brought in a marimba and a wooden xylophone kind of thing. This was pre-synthesizer. We didn’t have samples back then. You’re hearing bass marimba, that other instrument and you’re hearing, probably, one of the first loops that was ever done.”
Sadly, Jeff Porcaro passed away nearly ten years later.
Now, we are in the 1570s…
Spem in Alium is Latin for “hope in any other” or “hope in another”. A 40-part Renaissance Motet, it was composed in 1570 (thereabouts) by Thomas Tallis (Tallys). Written for eight choirs of five voices each, meaning there are 40 separate voices singing individual lines of music, it is considered to be Tallis’s greatest achievement and, possibly, one of the finest compositions of all time.
Information on where it was first performed is scarce. There appears to be some confusion regarding where it took place, as two locations…Nonsuch Palace, a royal Tudor palace in Surrey built by Henry VIII (not to be confused with Nonsuch Mansion) and Arundel House, a London townhouse originally for the Bishops of Bath & Wells…were both owned by Henry Fitzalan, the 12th/19th Earl of Arundel at one time. Most of what I have read leans towards Arundel House but, truly, I don’t think anyone really knows. It’s all a big guess. And, it is pure speculation as to why he wrote it. Some suggestions include a challenge due to an Italian composer doing same, Elizabeth’s 40th birthday or, perhaps for Mary as he was Catholic. Again, no one really knows.
The music, below, is soul stirring. ~Vic
The text of the motet:
Spem in alium nunquam habui
Praeter in te, Deus Israel
Qui irasceris et propitius eris
et omnia peccata hominum
in tribulatione dimittis
Creator caeli et terrae
respice humilitatem nostram
I have never put my hope in any other
but in Thee, God of Israel
who canst show both wrath and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins
of man in suffering
Creator of Heaven and Earth
Regard our humility
Additional Reading & Sources:
The Belle Jar (Blog Post)
Oxford Music Online
Spem in Alium History (PDF on Super Flumina Website)
How To Buy Spem In Alium (Classic FM Website)
Tallis and His Song of Forty Parts (Zenodo Website)
Leaving the 1520s and entering the 1540s…
Formally known as the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, the Staatskapelle Dresden is a Dresden-based German orchestra, one of the world’s oldest. Maurice, the Elector of Saxony (Prince Elector Moritz von Sachsen) founded it in 1548. Its precursor ensemble was Die Kurfürstlich-Sächsische und Königlich-Polnische Kapelle (The Electoral Saxon and Royal Polish Orchestra). The orchestra is the musical body of the Staatsoper Dresden (Dresden State Opera). The venue of the orchestra is the Semperoper.
Lovely music. ~Vic
Eine Alpensinfonie – Richard Strauss – Staatskapelle Dresden – Fabio Luisi
Coming forward in time, I was reading around in the 1400s & 1500s (noticing some of the composers that died in the plague) and discovered another interesting little piece: My Lady Carey’s Dompe (a lament or dirge), a traditional English dance tune. Written for a harpsichord and, possibly, a lute, the composer remains unknown, though suggested attribution is Hugh Aston and, the specific date is questionable. It could be 1525 or, 1528 if the song was, indeed, composed for the death of William Carey, a courtier in the service of Henry VIII. Lady Carey could refer to his wife Mary Boleyn, a mistress to Henry and sister to Anne Boleyn but, could also refer to his mother, sisters or his sister-in-law.
In any case, the song is lovely and, catchy. Enjoy.
“One of the earliest surviving keyboard pieces we have…”
I’m still digging around in the old stuff. I found this piece and thought it interesting.
Messe de Nostre Dame (Mass of Our Lady) is a polyphonic mass composed before 1365 by French poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut […]. Widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of medieval music, and of all religious music, it is historically notable as the earliest complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer […].
The Messe de Nostre Dame consists of 5 movements: the Kyrie (Eleison…”Lord, have mercy”), Gloria (in Excelsis Deo…”Glory to God in the highest”), Credo (Nicene Creed), Sanctus (“Holy”) and Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”), followed by the dismissal Ite, missa est (Mass Response: Deo Gratias or “Thanks be to God”). The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV, the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, although they are stylistically related to one another. Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame is for four voices rather than the more common three. Machaut added a contratenor voice that moved in the same low range as the tenor, sometimes replacing it as the lowest voice.
The information is rather wonky and, not only have I never studied music theory, my education on Catholic Mass is limited to a short stint as a member in an Anglican church in Austin, TX, a decade ago. That being said, what I find fascinating about this composition is that Machaut combined each part into an artistic whole, the earliest known example of it unified. Previously, the items were performed non-consecutively and, separated by prayers and chants.
[Instrumental Version of The Kyrie by Guillaume de Machaut]
[Modern Take on Kyrie by Patrick Lenk]
And, just because I could, I’m ending with Mr. Mister.
I’ve been digging around, looking for something interesting. Back in September 2019, I posted about Billboard locking down/wiping out their online charts behind a paywall. I don’t know if this is a fluke or if they got a lot of blow-back for what they did but, the charts have reappeared (their Hot 100 era). Ok. Good. Time will tell if they stay. And, I hope they did get some blow-back. Assholes.
Now that I got that off my chest, on to other stuff.
Wikipedia has a timeline of musical events (Yeah. I know. Wikipedia is hardly a bastion of truth but, seems to be a bit less haphazard with music, plants, animals, cars and finding a U.S. town.) I stumbled across the Seikilos Epitaph, a short, little marble tombstone with poetry/lyrics/text, with musical notation, written in Greek. It is unusual and unique because it is the oldest, intact musical composition in the world. It was found in Tralles, Turkey, an ancient, Hellenistic town where Aydin exists, now. The lyrics:
Ὅσον ζῇς φαίνου
μηδὲν ὅλως σὺ λυποῦ
πρὸς ὀλίγον ἔστι τὸ ζῆν
τὸ τέλος ὁ χρόνος ἀπαιτεῖ.
hóson zêis, phaínou
mēdèn hólōs sù lupoû
pròs olígon ésti tò zên
tò télos ho khrónos apaiteî.
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands his due.
The dedication was partially destroyed and could read:
“Seikilos to Euterpe”, possibly his wife (also the name of the Muse of Music)
“Seikilos, son of Euterpes”
The inscription reads:
Εἰκὼν ἤ λίθος εἰμί. τίθησί με Σεικίλος ἔνθα μνήμης ἀθανάτου σῆμα πολυχρόνιον.
eikṑn ḗ líthos eimí. títhēsí me Seikílos éntha mnḗmēs athanátou sêma polukhrónion.
“I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as a long-lasting sign of deathless remembrance.”
Take a listen:
Here is another version, based upon the inscription being dedicated to a wife:
Song of Seikilos (Classic FM website)