King Edward's Music

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

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From the Miss Davis Memorial Recital at the Ruddock Hall

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Our thanks to Mr. Ash for the photographs.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

The concert is presented jointly with King Edward VI High School for Girls

 

Romany Wood at Symphony Hall

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra perform Romany Wood

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra perform Romany Wood

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra perform Romany Wood

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra perform Romany Wood

Our thanks to Mr. Ash for his wonderful pictures. You can see the whole gallery here.

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall.

Our thanks to Mr. Ash for his wonderful pictures. You can see the whole gallery here.

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall: KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra at work

KES:KEHS Symphony Orchestra, reherasing at Symphony Hall, trumpets

KES:KEHS Symphony Orchestra rehearsing at Symphony Hall, oboes

Tutti rehearsal at Symphony Hall

KES:KEHS Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall (5), horns

KES:KEHS Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall, trombones (1)

KES:KEHS Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall (2), violins

KES:KEHS Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall (3), violins

KES:KEHS Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Romany Wood at Symphony Hall (4), violins

Our thanks to Mr. Ash for his wonderful pictures. You can see the whole gallery here.

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Rehearsing Romany Wood at King Edward’s School

Rehearsing Romany Wood at King Edward's School

On-stage in the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre

Romany Wood rehearsal in the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, King Edward's School

Practising sitting and standing

Rehearsing Romany Wood

Our thanks to Mr. Ash for his wonderful pictures. You can see the whole gallery here.

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Rehearsing Romany Wood at King Edward’s School

Romany Wood, arriving at King Edward's School Music Department.

Arriving at King Edward’s School.

Our thanks to Mr. Ash for his wonderful pictures. You can see the whole gallery here.

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Romany Wood — three days to go

King Edward's School, Birmingham, Music Department: Romany Wood at Symphony Hall

Friday, 24 June 2016 at 1800
Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Dimitri Shostakovich: Festive Overture op.96 (7’)
David Gaukroger / David Carr: Romany Wood (40’)

Massed choirs from primary and preparatory schools throughout the city
KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra
Martin Leigh, conductor

Ticket prices: £8/£5 available from the Symphony Hall box office.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

What teachers and pupils are saying about Romany Wood

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Romany Wood at Symphony Hall

 
‘Romany Wood is an initiative which has captured both hearts and minds of children and teachers’

‘Without doubt this project has greatly enriched the lives of our children and families and will raise aspirations that all children can “aim for the stars”!’

‘Poppy in Year 5 said that this would be a ‘once in a lifetime experience we would never forget’.’

‘it is a once in a lifetime experience singing in a venue such as Symphony Hall and they are very excited.’

‘The enthusiasm for music on their faces is amazing to see’

Ticket prices: £8/£5 available from the Symphony Hall box office.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Romany Wood

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Romany Wood at Symphony Hall

Friday, 24 June 2016 at 1800
Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Dimitri Shostakovich: Festive Overture op.96 (7’)
David Gaukroger / David Carr: Romany Wood (40’)

Massed choirs from primary and preparatory schools throughout the city
KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra
Martin Leigh, conductor

Described by Quentin Letts as ‘England’s answer to Peter and the Wolf’, Romany Wood is for massed choirs of young voices, soprano soloist, symphony orchestra, and narrator. The music is by David Gaukroger, setting a libretto by David Carr.
The remarkable KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra will accompany young choirs from throughout Birmingham, together raising money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
This project is part of King Edward’s School’s Outreach Programme. It is made possible by the generous support of the foundation of The Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham.

Ticket prices: £8/£5 available from the Symphony Hall box office.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

The life and times of the pipe and tabor


Music at King Edward's School

“My setting forward was somewhat before seven in the morning; my Taborer struck up merrily; and as fast as kind people throwing together would give me leave, through London I leapt.”

Will Kemp

Will Kemp was a renowned clown and Morris dancer in the 16th century. He was a member of William Shakespeare’s acting group, the Queen’s Men. He achieved such stardom when he Morris danced from London to Norwich over nine days, that he wrote a book about it, humbly entitled, ‘Will Kemp’s Nine Days’ Wonder’!

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The cover picture from Kemp’s Book

The merry Taborer mentioned, was called Thomas Slye, and he is pictured above accompanying Will with his pipe and tabor.

The pipe and tabor are separate instruments: a three-hole pipe, played with the left hand, and a drum, or tabor, hanging from the left wrist, elbow or shoulder. This was sometimes called the whittle and dub, the name probably deriving from whistle and tub. This combination is surprisingly hard to play well (I’ve tried!) because you have to provide a convincing rhythm whilst skilfully navigating the pipe’s perilous harmonics to play a jaunty melody. Few instruments of the 16th century were as well suited to accompanying dances as this combination. It was a tremendously efficient use of a musician.

Another famous taborer was Dick Tarleton (see below), a founding member of the Queen’s Men, who would have worked with Will Kemp. He was also a famous actor, musician, fencer and the favourite clown of Queen Elizabeth I.

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Dick Tarleton

The three-hole pipe had two finger holes and a thumbhole. This arrangement worked because it could be easily played with one hand so you could do something else at the same time.

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Some three-hole pipes

 

A player can achieve multiple harmonics by blowing harder or more softly into the instrument. In this way, a skilled player can secure a range of an octave, plus a few extra notes above and below.

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Range and fingering of the pipe

The tabor can be any size of round gut-snare drum that can be hung from the shoulder or wrist and played with one hand. The name may come from a corruption of the French ‘tambour’ and Italian ‘tamburo’.  In the Provence region of France, they strike directly on to the snare to create a continuous sound. It is usually played on the snare head of the drum.

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A tabor

A different instrument called the string drum often accompanied the three-hole-pipe. This was particularly the case in France where it is still in use today. It consists of an oblong sound box with two or three strings wrapped round it. A player sounds the instrument by hitting all the strings with a small stick. It added simple harmony, in the form of drone notes, to the arrangement.  This was particularly useful in the middle-ages because tonal harmony was yet to become the norm, so pieces were often accompanied by repeated tonic and dominant notes.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

A string drum

THE MORRIS

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Morris dancing derived from “Moresque” dancing, which was exotic dancing from Africa and the Middle East. This was fashionable as a court and civic entertainment from the early fifteenth century, accompanied by the pipe and tabor. In the Tudor times it involved a series of forward leaps and steps, which would have been really hard work and would have moved along quickly as opposed to the rather stationary modern version. In his book, Kemp enjoys describing a number of people who tried to keep up with him for long distances, and were left far behind.

 

‘Indeed my pace in dancing is not ordinary’

Will Kemp.

 

Here is a link to Pierre Hamon, who can make the pipe and tabor sound beautiful in a Middle Eastern style. He has a unique haunting tone and an atmospheric quality to his playing. Enjoy!

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A pipe and tabor player from a medieval manuscript

The pipe and tabor even developed a small family, depicted by Praetorius as a treble, a tenor and a bass variety.

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Praetorius’s drawing of a pipe and tabor

The bass was 30 inches long with a 23-inch crook. A family was common among instruments of the time because the aim of musical instruments was to imitate the human voice which is divided into soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. The voice was considered the pinnacle of musical achievement because God had created it.

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A bass tabor pipe

The pipe and tabor enjoyed a long stretch of popularity as the primary instrument to accompany the Morris dance, which was still popular by the 19th century. It was also in demand for accompanying village dances. In the Tudor times, each region would have a player who was usually in a guild of musicians. He could be hired and would take apprentices. He would teach an apprentice tunes by heart, which is why only a fraction of the period’s folk music survives.

 

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A talented bear

Its popularity is proven by the plethora of illustrations that were made which include the instrument. Many of these you can see in the text. The combination can even be seen carved in the stone of some cathedrals.

 

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A relief at Gloucester cathedral

 

The pipe and tabor inevitably diminished in popularity during the 19th century and was almost obsolete by the 20th century. However, in the rediscoveries of recent times, it has made a comeback and is now often seen at living history and traditional events such as the York Mystery Plays.

THE PIPE AND TABOR IN EUROPE

The pipe and tabor has had a similar level of popularity in France, as in England. The Provence region of France has exceptionally strong pipe and tabor tradition, with their own type of tabor pipe, the galoubet. This is a small tabor pipe which plays at a very high pitch. This is augmented with the tambourin, a very long drum with a resonant tone and strident snare.

Music at King Edward's School

A galoubet player

You can hear the galoubet here:

Perhaps the oddest variant of the three hole pipe can be found in Slovakia and is something of a cross between a tabor pipe and a didgeridoo. It is called the fujara and is used to accompany agricultural singing. It has a deep and rather unique tone with a length of some two metres.

Music at King Edward's School

A fujara player

The pipe and tabor was deeply rooted in the world of country-dance. As fashionable music fluctuated, it was unable to cross musical borders. In addition to this, amateur musicians would have found it very challenging to play, because it was two instruments in one. They opted for musical alternatives, such as the recorder and the flageolet, which were easier to master.

However I do believe that the pipe and tabor can be a truly magical experience to listen to, and should not be lost to the mists of time.

To finish, here is one last quote from Will Kemp’s book.

‘I crave pardon; and conclude this first Pamphlet that ever Will Kemp offered to the Press, being thereunto pressed on the one side by the pitiful papers, pasted on every post, of that which was neither so nor so, and on the other side verged thereto in duty to express with thankfulness the kind entertainment I found.’

Will Kemp

 

By Nathan Cornish UMJ.

Music at King Edward's School

Eight Strings and Other Nonsense

The Anatomy, History and Family Tree of the Mandolin

“The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because it’s cheerful and melancholy at the same time, and I think it comes from that shadow string, the double strings.”

Rita Dove, US Poet Laureate

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Neapolitan mandolin

The mandolin is a fretted, eight-stringed, double-coursed instrument, with pairs of steel strings, each pair tuned to the same note, GDAE. It is descended from the mandore (right), a four to six string lute-like instrument, which rather intriguingly only had single-coursed strings. The first “true” mandolins appeared during the early 18th century in Italy. These early mandolins were primarily owned by travelling musicians, hence their popularity spread rapidly through Europe. They would have been bowlbacked, meaning that the body was shaped much like a pear sliced in half vertically. This design would eventually become known as the well-known Neapolitan mandolin (below).

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham: mandolin

In the early part of its life, the mandolin was primarily a classical instrument. Beethoven wrote for and played mandolin, and Mozart composed for it. Before either of these men Vivaldi wrote a mandolin concerto. After the dawn of the 19th century, the mandolin began to lose popularity in the world of classical music and became a predominantly folk instrument. It was thanks to the Estudiantes Españoles (Spanish Students), a mandolin group popular across Europe andthe US that the mandolin came back into fashion around the turn of the 20th century. It was not uncommon for a family of people to own a family of mandolins and play them after dinner in the same way we would watch Saturday night television now.

At this point, it is probably worth explaining what these other members of the mandolin family are. You may have noticed that the word mandolin is a contraction of mandore and violin, and you would be right! It is of course the same size and shape as the former, and the same pitch as the latter. As you might expect then, there is therefore a mandola, a mandocello and a mandobass, all sharing the same tunings as their violin family counterparts. Whilst in terms of size, it would be easy to confuse a mandola for its little brother, the mandocello is naturally more substantial, with a scale length of around 28 inches. The mandobass is a more obscure instrument, and owing to its rarity especially in recent years, our definition of it is somewhat looser. Today it can refer to a single- or double-coursed instrument, pitched either like a traditional double bass or two octaves below a mandolin.

The main member of the mandolin family which does not share its pitching with violin equivalent is the octave mandolin. It is pitched an octave below the normal mandolin as the name suggests. It was invented to fill in the pitch gap between the mandola and mandocello, and is particularly common in Irish music. Over its lifetime, however, it has changed and developed considerably, and the main contributor to this change has been the introduction of the bouzouki.

During the 1950s, there was an influx of Greek immigrants to Ireland, and with them came their musical culture. The Greek bouzouki was similar to the octave mandolin in that it shared the same GDAE pitch, but one of the strings in each pair in the bottom two courses is tuned an octave above. It also had a smaller, bowlback body and a longer scale length. Over the following few years, the line between the two instruments blurred, ending with the development of the Irish bouzouki. This variant maintained the scale length and octave strings of its namesake, whilst using the traditionally Irish flatter-teardrop body shape, resulting in a fusion of timbres. Despite this, however, the original name of octave mandolin is still very widely used, generally referring to shorter scale length models.

In modern times, the mandolin has in many ways regained its previous folk connotations. It features heavily in the bluegrass and blues music of America, as well as the native styles of many other countries across the globe. In addition to this, however, it also maintains a presence within the popular music scene. Since the rise ofMusic at King Edward's School, Birmingham: Mandocaster the Fender Mandocaster electric mandolin (right) during the 1960s and the increasing popularity of folk rock, mandolins have been used fairly frequently in certain major bands, such as Muse (alternative rock), System of a Down (avant-garde metal), Imagine Dragons (indie rock), Green Day (pop punk) and most famously, Led Zeppelin (classic heavy metal). Sadly, the other members of the mandolin family only really feature in music with strong folk roots.

In conclusion, over the three hundred years of its life, the mandolin has featured in almost every style of music in the Western tradition, and in many others beyond. Its popularity has ebbed and flowed, yet never died out, and I would say that this is proof of its greatness. I would also like to suggest that we are currently in a “mando-flow”, thanks to the work of musicians such as Mumford and Sons, and who knows, perhaps twenty years down the line we will see the next Ed Sheeran clutching a mandocello rather than a guitar…

Tom Iszatt, Divisions

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Eight Strings and Other Nonsense — videos

 

 

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

KES Carol Service


King Edward's School, Birmingham, Carol Service

Thursday, 11 December at 1930
St. Philip’s Cathedral

Sung by KES Choir and instrumental ensemble.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham