David Kinsela

David Kinsela: Fundamentum

$14.60 $16.98
Product Type: CD
Artist: David Kinsela

Title: Fundamentum
Label: CD Baby

The Birth of Keyboard Repertoire Anon., De Vitry, Ileborgh, Paumann Played on the gold-strung Evans clavicytherium Golden Experience 1 Fundamentum presents the oldest surviving music for two-hand keyboard, beginning c1359 with the Robertsbridge Fragment (six pieces lasting seventeen minutes) and continuing up to c1450 with Conrad Paumann's Fundamentum Organisandi (seven pieces lasting fourteen minutes, plus the sixteen-minute construct Ascensus et descensus ). In between are eighteen pieces from Germany, Poland, Austria, Holland and England lasting thirty minutes. Hitherto regarded as for organ, most of this repertoire proves to have been intended for string keyboard whether chekker, clavichord, clavicymbalum or clavicytherium. Less than a quarter has been excluded, and most of this is crude or garbled although some requires pedals (which point to clavichord as much as to organ). The instrument used here is a copy of the sole surviving medieval string keyboard, a clavicytherium or vertical clavicymbalum built around 1470 in Ulm and conserved in London. The copy was commissioned by David Kinsela in 1986 from David Evans of Henley-on-Thames. Completed in 1991 with strings of brass, it was later restrung in gold in accordance with forgotten Renaissance practice following trials in Sydney. Fundamentum encapsulates the transition of Western culture from Middle Ages to Renaissance. Running time 76:55. Designer: Mark Venice The cover booklet has as many as twenty-eight full-colour pages (whereas organ. O booklets more usually have twenty-four pages). It includes: 1. A brief history of the keyboard from it's invention in Classical times up to the Renaissance. 2. The illustrated story of the chekker, the first successful string keyboard, which makes it's debut in London in 1360 during the captivity there of the king of France. 3. The first depictions of the clavichord and clavicymbalum which are outstanding engineering drawings of their time made for the Duke of Burgundy. 4. Details of the two tuning systems, Pythagorean and mean-tone. 5. Details of each piece including origin, transcript and tuning. 6. Introductory material on the gold-strung Evans clavicytherium, with photo. Below: COMMENT THE STORY OF THE CHEKKER TUNING SYSTEMS BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. The Robertsbridge Fragment 2. The Medieval Two-Hand Keyboard 3. General FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS COMMENT Early Music News (NSW) Medieval and captivating! (April 2004) THE STORY OF THE CHEKKER The story of the chekker demonstrates the vicissitudes of fate, and illustrates also that one man's poison can be another's food (i.e. vice and virtue belong to the here-now). It also shows that engineering, besides it's relevance to farming, building, services, transport and warfare, is fundamental to Western music. There is evidence that between the 1320s and the 1350s, minds in France, England and Florence gave thought to devising a one-man, two-hand keyboard instrument. It would need no bellows or crank because the playing fingers themselves would energise the sound, through key-levers acting on tautened strings (a practicable substitute for bells). The eventual instrument, as we know it, was square in shape looking like a boxed chess set, and so was named eschequier hence 'chekker'. Within fifty years it was decisively superseded and by 1450 it had probably disappeared. Coming to light again in Belgium in the 1880s, more than five hundred years after it's invention, it puzzled researchers as to whether it was a harpsichord, a clavichord, a piano, a 'vertical clavichord' or an organ. It took a century and more to realise that the chekker-concept was the simplest of all possibilities. Mechanically it had tangent action, as still used in the clavichord, but it was laid out like the grand piano with the keyboard running across the end of the string-band to allow strings to be lined up with the individual keys (like the clavicymbalum, harpsichord and forte-piano). This layout was never again used with tangent action as it involved, from the clavicymbalum onwards, a costly 'bentside'. (An alternative layout would also prove viable, having the keyboard parallel to the strings so that the key-levers actually spanned the string-band as in the clavichord, virginals and square piano, instruments which were relatively cheap, compact and portable.) The first report of the eschequier was penned in London but nevertheless is found in Paris, in the Bibliothèque Nationale, in account books for 1360 of the city's king. John II was imprisoned for nearly four years by his second cousin Edward III of England, having been captured by the Prince of Wales in 1356 at Poitiers. It is serendipitous, even auspicious, that eschequier means 'chess-set', a game whose aim is to capture the enemy king. From the same period comes the Robertsbridge Fragment, a two-page manuscript preserved, it is said, only for it's parchment-value in a book binding at Robertsbridge Abbey, once a royal foundation near the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Now in the British Library, it is the oldest surviving music for keyboard. That it was created for a court is revealed by the knightly quality of it's three estampies, and that this was the French court is indicated by two motets from the courtly satire Le Roman de Fauvel (a musical whose longevity anticipated, for instance, 'Phantom of the Opera'). The likely composer of these motets was Philippe De Vitry, author of the famous polemic Ars nova ( c 1322) and subsequent secretary to three successive kings including the unfortunate John II. One motet in particular might have consoled the king in his terrifying predicament, Tribum que 'The tribe which gained power ruthlessly was swiftly overthrown'. De Vitry had befriended the young music-scientist Johannes de Muris whose treatise Musica speculativa was released shortly after Ars nova, likewise finding wide use in universities. It laid a theoretical foundation for the chekker in a discussion of string-lengths for a triangular monocordium of nineteen diatonic notes, but it approached none of the design problems and did not even mention the action. (The Robertsbridge music similarly requires seventeen diatonic notes, along with ten accidentals.) In tangent action, a length of sheet metal called a tangent is affixed to the rear of the key-lever to simply hammer and at the same time to check the string, remaining in contact for the duration of the note in order to prevent bouncing and to isolate the damping felt. (It provides one node, the other being the bridge which transfers the vibrations to the soundboard.) Tangent action requires strings of drawn metal, and these became readily available in England and Germany around the mid-century. It has been said that De Muris visited Oxford and that he attended the first round of negotiations for King John's ransom. (As an astronomer, he also advised Pope Pius VI on calendar reform.) The king, a music lover of mercurial temperament, could well have found consolation in playing Tribum que on the chekker, his memory assisted by the Robertsbridge transcription. Some twenty years later playing the chekker would be praised by Eustace Deschamps for lifting one's spirits. Writing around the turn of the century, the influential churchman Jean de Gerson made at least seven references to the instrument. In spite of the tiny sound of tangent action, the chekker was used, he says, to accompany songs in army camp (like the accordion in the First World War). 'In the chekker of our hearts the victory is melodious.' 'Devotion makes the strings of the chekker sound in accordance with diverse emotions.' The chekker is 'struck by the fingers of meditation'. The so-called mystical chekker presents an allegorical Battle of Virtues and Vices. It is not certain that the chekker was an English development. Culture was vibrant through much of Edward's fifty-year reign and the instrument enters history as a gift from Edward to John during a week of festivi

1.1 The Robertsbridge Fragment: Clos A1
1.2 The Robertsbridge Fragment: Dorian Estampie A2
1.3 The Robertsbridge Fragment: Retrove A3
1.4 The Robertsbridge Fragment: Adesto A4
1.5 The Robertsbridge Fragment: Tribum Que A5
1.6 The Robertsbridge Fragment: Flos Vernalis A6
1.7 Asperance de Xij Semiminimis D1
1.8 Empris Domoyrs D2
1.9 Kyrie A8
1.10 Gloria / Benedicimus / Glorificamus A9
1.11 Felix Namque A7
1.12 Summum Sanctus A15
1.13 Munich Voluntary A12
1.14 Breslau Voluntary A10
1.15 Praeambulum Super D a F Et G A36; Frowe Al Myn Hoffen An Dyr Lyed A38
1.16 Praeambulum Super G A30; Bonus Tenor Leohardi A19
1.17 Wol Up Ghesellen Yst An Der Tyet A14
1.18 Der Winter Wil Hin Weichen (Paumann) L6; Der Winter Der Wil Weychen A22; Mit Ganczem Willen A23; Ascensus, Descensus A24; Der Winter Wil Hin Weichen
1.19 Hamburg Rondo A32
1.20 Wach Auf Mein Hort Der Leucht Dorther A44
1.21 Mit Ganczem Willen WÜNSCH Ich Dir A45
1.22 O Clemens A46
1.23 Des Klaffers Neyden A47
1.24 Ellend Du Hast A48
1.25 Benedicte Almechtiger Got A49
1.26 Der Summer L41; Domit Ein Gut Jare A50
1.27 Ascensus Et Descensus (Compilation)

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