Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Renaissance Revel

Greetings, my lords and ladies!
We most cordially invite you to help us celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas with a Renaissance Revel in St Paul's Cathedral Crypt. There will be plenty of medieval and renaissance carols, live music, convivial company, and lots of period dancing from a dazzling array of local dance groups. There will also be an informal class before the event for anyone wishing to learn some simple period dances - beginners welcome, and encouraged! Non-dancers are also very welcome to just sit back and enjoy the music. Feel free to dress up in costume, or come just as you are.
WHEN: Friday 4 December
WHERE: St Paul's Cathedral Crypt (through the carpark at the back of the cathedral to the large wooden doors on the left hand side of the building looking towards the Octagon)
WHAT TIME: Dance class 5.30-6.30pm (come along and have a go!)
COST: $10 for adults, $5 for performers (i.e. members of Rare Byrds, the Playford Group, Jack Frost Morris, Les Belles Vilaines and the Scottish Country dance group). Children free and most welcome. We ask that everyone bring a small plate of finger food to share.
WHO CAN COME: Anyone who likes the idea of a renaissance party! Feel free to bring family and friends along.

Dunedin Medieval and Renaissance Society

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

English Country Dances on Sunday

Just in case you have time to spare on Sunday, we are holding a dance practice to look at some Playford English country dances (circa mid-seventeenth century). What better way to liven up a long weekend? The venue is the small exercise studio on the top floor of OUSA Clubs and Societies in Albany St, 2pm, Sunday 25 October, and we will have live music courtesy of Anneloes.
Hope to see you there!
Dunedin Medieval Society

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


A nyckelharpa (literally "key harp”) is a string instrument. Its keys are attached to tangents which, when the key is depressed, serve as frets to change the pitch of the string. The nyckelharpa is more closely related to the hurdy gurdy than the fiddle. It is traditionally played with a strap around the neck, and stabilized by the right arm.
The oldest depiction of the nyckelharpa is a relief from about 1350 near one of the gates to Källunge church on Gotland showing two fiddles Рpresumingly nyckelharpor of European origin. Murals from 1450-1550 show angels playing the nyckelharpa, which is seen as evidence that the instrument was well-regarded.

The Swedish province of Uppland has been a stronghold for nyckelharpa music since the late 16th century, and during the 16th and 17th centuries, the ’Schl√ľsselfidel’ was known in Germany. Nowadays the nyckelharpa is best known in Sweden but is also used to play medieval music all over the world.

The Viol

The viol (also called viola da gamba and lira da gamba) is any one of a family of bowed, fretted, stringed musical instruments developed in the 1400s and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Spanish vihuela(a guitarlike plucked string instrument) and the lira, a bowed instrument developed in the Byzantine Empire in the 9th century.
Viols most commonly had six strings, although many 16th-century instruments had five or even four strings. Viols were (and are) strung with low-tension gut strings, unlike the steel strings used by members of the modern violin family. Gut strings produce a sonority far different from steel, the former generally described as softer and sweeter.
Viols are fretted in a manner similar to early guitars or lutes, by means of movable wrapped-around and tied-on gut frets. Unlike members of the violin family, which are tuned in fifths, viols are usually tuned in fourths with a major third in the middle, mirroring the tuning employed on the vihuela de mano and lute during the 16th century and similar to that of the modern six-string guitar. Alternate tunings (called scordatura) were often employed, particularly in the solo lyra viol style of playing, which also made use of many techniques such as chords and pizzicato, not generally used in consort playing. There is a vast repertoire of viol music, some by well-known composers such as Marin Marais, and much by anonymous ones.
Much viol music predates the adoption of equal temperament tuning by musicians. The movable nature of the tied-on frets permits the viol player to make adjustments to the tempering of the instrument, and some players and consorts adopt meantone temperaments, which are arguably more suited to Renaissance music. There are several recognized fretting schemes in which the frets are spaced unevenly in order to give "better-sounding" chords in a limited number of keys. In some of these schemes, the two strands of gut that comprise the fret are separated so that the player can finger a slightly sharper or flatter version of a note to suit different circumstances.

The Bagpipe

It is likely that the Scottish highlanders developed the bagpipe at a very early date, independently of other forms of pipes (e.g. Roman). Illustrations and carvings from as early as the 14th century show an instrument that we can clearly recognise as a true bagpipe. It often had only a single drone. The smallpipes, a variety of bagpipe, are a true Scottish folk instrument and their history can be traced well back into medieval times. They are also known as ‘parlour’ or ‘fireside’ pipes as they are suitable for indoor playing.
Unlike the well-known highland bagpipes, or war pipes, the Scottish smallpipes were never adopted by the army and so were not banned by the English authorities at the time of the Jacobite rebellion in the 1740s. Still, their use gradually declined until, by the mid-1970s, they were almost extinct. However, the Scottish smallpipes have gone through a huge revival in the last ten to fifteen years. There are now many configurations of smallpipes available in a range of keys.
This instrument used by Rare Byrds was made by a local craftsman, Yuri Terenyi, and the scale/fingering is that of the Scottish instrument. However, there are two differences:
the configuration of drone and chanter parallel comes from the now-extinct French Chabrette smallpipes and allows all of the sound to be projected forwards;
there are note extensions that allow for the playing of some medieval and renaissance music.

The Spinet

The spinet is closely related to the harpsichord, both in construction and sound; it is smaller, cheaper to build and is limited to a single keyboard and one string per note.
The oldest surviving spinets are Italian, from around 1610. The 'bentside spinet' seems to have been developed by the Italian Girolamo Zenti in the 1630s. It became popular throughout Europe and especially in England, where from about the 1680s it rapidly replaced the larger, rectangular (and 'plummier' sounding) virginals.
The instrument used by Rare Byrds is based on one built in 1770 by the Belgian Albertus Delin; the original is in the Brussels Museum. It has been assembled from a kitset designed and made by Marc Ducornet of The Paris Workshop.
The case, like the original, is of poplar, sealed with linseed oil. The keys are covered in maple, with the sharps and flats in cherry wood. The 3mm-thick soundboard is spruce, sealed with shellac. Oak and beech are used where hardwoods are necessary.
The strings are of red brass, yellow brass and very mild steel coated with tin; they replicate the types of string traditionally used. Each string is plucked by a tiny 'plectrum' made of a very precisely shaped piece of special plastic (originally the quill of a crow's feather was used). The plectrum sits in the 'tongue' of a wooden 'jack', which is pushed up when a key is depressed by a finger.
The instrument is currently tuned to a 'temperament' believed by some scholars to have been that normally used by J S Bach.

The Recorder

The recorder is a kind of duct flute (a wind instrument with a built-in windway). Duct flutes are relatively simple instruments to make and play, and examples can be found depicted in European art from the 11th century. These were often made from a single piece of bone or wood, and most have between three and five fingerholes. The earliest surviving examples of recorders date from the 14th century, and again, the number of fingerholes vary. By the late 15th century, the recorder had six finger holes and a thumbhole. Extra holes were gradually added: in Renaissance France, the instrument was called flute a neuf trous (‘flute with nine holes’). The term ‘recorder’ is English.
By the Renaissance the recorder was often played in consorts of various sizes rather than as a solo instrument and was popular in court circles. A quartet of recorder players dressed as wolves performed at the marriage of Charles the Bold to Margaret of York in 1468, and Henry VIII of England was an avid collector of sets of recorders (he owned many cased sets of 4-9 instruments). The fifteenth-century Flemish painting Mary Queen of Heaven shows three angels playing soprano, alto and tenor recorders. Polyphonic vocal music of this period was frequently adapted for recorder consort.
The instrument was popular with amateur groups throughout the 16th and 17th centuries (Samuel Pepys resolved to learn the recorder, “the sound of it being, of all sounds in the world, most pleasing to me”). In the 18th century, the recorder was an established part of the orchestra and was scored for by Bach and Handel. Yet at this time, it was supplanted by the transverse flute which has better dynamic range and pitch control, and the recorder largely vanished from use.
It was revived in the early twentieth century by early music pioneer Arnold Dolmetsch who made his own recorders in order to play authentic period music. The instrument underwent many improvements, and mass production of plastic recorders enabled it to be widely adopted as a teaching instrument in schools throughout the Western world. Modern masters of the recorder have included Franz Bruggen, David Munrow, Michaela Petrie, Marion Verbruggen and Genevieve Lacey.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mid-Winter Rapier

Open class for anyone interested in trying out Renaissance rapier techniques.
Beginners welcome.
Practice swords provided.
Saturday 20 June
Dunedin Public Art Gallery conference room.
Free admission

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mid-Winter Events


An evening of early music and poetry including works by Gabrieli, Barbara Strozzi, Philip Sidney, Monteverdi and Purcell, plus a mummers' play, and a Morris dance. Performers include Rare Byrds, Panache, Yuri Terenyi and the Jack Frost Morris dancers. Complimentary mulled wine will be served. All welcome.
Friday 19 June
St Paul's Cathedral Crypt
Admission $10 .

In conjunction with Dunedin Public Library and Public Art Gallery, we will view some of the best medieval manuscripts held in the Library's surprisingly rich collection, and take a behind-the-scenes look at a renaissance Madonna and Child at the Art Gallery. A light lunch is included, followed by a presentation on renaissance alchemy at the court of Emperor Rudolf II. This presentation includes a performance of three of Michael Maier's alchemical fugues.
Tour cost: $5. Places in the first part of the programme are limited, so book soon!
Saturday 20 June
11am -11.45am Medieval manuscripts at Dunedin Public Library
11.45am-12.20pm Zanobi Machiavelli's Madonna and Child at Dunedin Public Art Gallery
12.20pm-1pm Lunch in Art Gallery conference room.
1pm-2pm Presentation on renaissance alchemy and the court of Rudolf II
by Jonathan Cweorth, Phil Philpot and Rare Byrds ensemble,
Art Gallery conference room.
To book, please contact Jonathan on 453 1947

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kate's Dance Video Links

These dance links are from Kate Grace of the NEV Community Programme:


Bransle d’escosse


Valse ecossaise

Laride 8 temps (Bretagne) - actually these guys are the ones I was with in France not long ago...nice to see them again...

And a waltz for the holidays :0)

Andro (Bretagne) and this

And here is the “gavotte des montagnes” 3 parts: ton simpl/tamm kreiz/ton doubl

The 2nd part (the rest part) looks quite organised in this video, what I have seen in bals is often “slacker” than that.


ah romantic vision of France!... here

That’s what you can do when you are completely at ease with the dance... maybe not next week

This is a performance of a “gavotte de l’Aven” by a “groupe foklorique” in Brittany

This is actually what happen in “bals trad” (Ivoirine second piece in the video)

I really hope this will happen here too.

One day.


St Kessog AGM

The College of St Kessog held it's AGM on 5th June and the following officers were elected:

Seneschal: Daniel Stride/Mielikko
Chaterlaine: Clare Wilson
Reeve: Tasha Derrett/Eyd?s
Captain of Archers: Ivan Barczak
Web Wright: Clare Wilson
Constable: Sean Clemenger

Minutes of the meeting will be put on the St Kessog website once they're typed up.

Tasha Derrett

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

European Traditional Dancing

"Les Belles Vilaines"

Popular dances from various regions of France, Northern Europe and from the Balkans - chain dances, circle and partner dances,mazurkas, gavottes, waltzes with 3, 5, 8, 11 times, polkas, bourrees, and some medieval dances like bransles and rondeaux.
Discover or find again the fine dance repertoire of French popular "bals."
No partner needed, no experience required, just the pleasure of dancing together.

North East Valley School Hall, 248 North Road, Dunedin
Wednesday 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Postal Address: 22 Montague Street, North East Valley, Dunedin
Phone: (03) 473 6488

Sunday, March 22, 2009

St Martin Pilgrimage : 2nd May

There is a typo in the poster for the St Martin's pilgrimage: Helene's phone number is 455 8172

Rare Byrds : New Early Music Group

The Rare Byrds first performance is at 1.30pm, Sunday 12 April in the Otago Museum atrium as part of the Museum's Passionate About Performance series. The concert is free and will feature a range of early music including works by Zanetti, Tomkins, Dowland, Byrd and Purcell. All welcome.
Rare Byrds are happy for contact from other interested instrumentalists or singers.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Canterbury Faire

Wynflaed got to get her gear back on while Emily had a blissful escape from reality into SCAdia for a few days. I found Canterbury Faire much too long last year - it is mainly about fighting and I didn't have enough to do to not feel guilty about what I was not doing, and I don't do well after multiple consecutive nights of sleeping badly - so this year I only went for about a third of it. Got up to Chch on Wednesday, spent Thursday and Friday at Faire, came home today (Saturday). I won't bore you with a long narrative, but here are some pics (more in the SG gallery).

The signboard for The Mong (the Scadian pub) and the heavy fighters all lined up for their tourney.

William Tell archery shoot - they had to hit an apple on the top of a mannequin's head. Waterhole.

Folks looking swanky.

More swank. Ball.

Market day. Hafla (Turkish feast).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Heavy Fighting at Canterbury Faire

Greetings good gentles
I took this video at the Fighter Auction tourney (believing myself about
to witness the final battle) and thought I would put it up on the web and
pass on the link for general edification.