An upbeat analysis?

At their best, conductors are like magicians. With a wave of a wand they can entrance and enchant audiences of thousands and stir profound emotions in even the most po-faced of listeners. Unfortunately the personality cult prevalent among the jet-setting conducting fraternity – though it’s now (very!) slowly also becoming a sorority – has led to […]

A major difference

A fanfare for the major triad: It’s everywhere. Apart from being the principal building block of most music, its (sometimes) dulcet tones are used in shops, stations, airports and elsewhere to alert us to announcements of impending joy or (more frequently) gloom. It has a sibling but, unlike the bright, stable major, minor is darker […]

Lachrimæ

In a league table of composers who have made a career out of exquisite misery (several names come to mind!), John Dowland must, surely, come somewhere near the top. w 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 […]

A worthy wyght

Goe Nightly Cares: Fretwork, Michael Chance, Christopher Wilson, Elizabeth Liddle …Tallis is dead, and Music dies… This is part of Byrd’s Ye Sacred Muses, a lament on the death of his mentor, friend, colleague and the godfather of his son Thomas (no doubt called after his illustrious namesake). Many of the details of Tallis’s life are obscure. He seems to […]

Octophonics

Stockhausen? Cage?? No, the first(?) composer to employ eight separate sound sources (octophonics) did it  somewhere around 1570! In his 40 part motet Spem in alium Thomas Tallis divides the voices into eight choirs of five singers each (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass); his writing – the passing of material from chorus to chorus –would […]