Louis-Joseph Marchand's Treatise on Simple Counterpoint or Singing on the Book
Louis-Joseph Marchand’s 1739 Traité du contrepoint simple ou chant sur le livre documents the continuation of a centuries-old tradition of improvised liturgical singing, one which remained part of French choral practice throughout the eighteenth century. An essentially practical work, the treatise aims to provide the reader with the tools required for singing counterpoint extempore, a skill that was claimed to be ‘necessary for all those who aspire to enter into the music of the majority of cathedrals and colleges, both in France, Flanders, and elsewhere.’ The aim of this translation is partly to facilitate academic engagement with this rich tradition of liturgical music-making, but also to aid in the continued practical revival of historical traditions of improvisation in both modern performance and pedagogy.
Quhat is Faburdoun?
Published in JAF 14/1 Journal of the Alamire Foundation 2022 (Peer Reviewed)
The anonymous Scottish manuscript The Art of Music makes frequent, if often brief, appearances in studies on extemporized traditions of singing in the sixteenth century. The manuscript is mostly a collation of a number of earlier theoretical writings, and was likely created for practical use in a post-Reformation Scottish ‘song school’ around 1580, coinciding with a government-mandated surge in Scottish musical education. This article focuses on a single chapter, that which addresses the subject of ‘faburden’. It aims to provide a new edition of the chapter as well as a translation from sixteenth-century Scots into modern English, alongside a brief summary and commentary. The chapter itself details four different types of faburden, all involving a degree of structural rigidity, while nevertheless often demonstrating immense floridity in their realization. Of particular note are the extensive examples illustrating each rule given by the anonymous author. By providing a new edition of this practically oriented work, the author hopes that the colourful techniques described therein can be more easily integrated into modern ‘historically informed’ practice.
'The Historical Record of Vocal Sound': A conversation about vibrato with Richard Bethell
Published in the Autumn 2022 Newsletter of the National Early Music Association UK
In the Spring 2021 publication of the Newsletter of the National Early Music Association UK appears a rather substantial article entitled ‘The Historic Record of Vocal Sound (1650-1829.) ’ The article in question was penned by independent musicologist and secretary of the National Early Music Association UK, Richard Bethell, in response to a somewhat mixed review by Dr. Edward Breen of Mr. Bethell’s recently published book on the same subject. While Mr. Bethell and I have discussed the contents of his book at great length outside of print, the publication of the aforementioned article served as an opportunity for an explicit and public challenge to be issued for me and my colleague and friend Lisandro Abadie to defend our perspectives on the subject.
Giulio Caccini: The good, the bad and the unclear
Created in collaboration with earlymusicsources.com, This project aims to present a new translation of several of Giulio Caccini's most influential printed works, alongside an educational video on the subject of his famous preface to Le Nuove Musiche.
This collection of summaries is designed to make wading through the dense texts of Pier Francesco Tosi, as well as his most notable eighteenth-century translators, easier for students of 'historically informed' singing. The intention is to present those elements of Tosi's text which are essentially practical, accompanied by the various commentaries provided by his translators, in a clear and concise, and therefore more easily usable manner.
A History of the Countertenor Voice
Created in partnership with 'Early Music Sources,' this project aims to present an overview of the history of the countertenor voice and the role of falsetto in Western singing while addressing several common misconceptions on the subject. This document began as my preparatory notes on the subject, but quickly became extensive enough to warrant their inclusion on this page.
Collection of Ornamented Vocal Music
The issue of ornamentation is one of the most tangible elements of historical performance practices due in part to the high level of attention dedicated to the subject by historical writers. This project consists of an open-source list of ornamented vocal music ranging from late Medieval period to the 20th century. The aim of the project is to collate the vast amount of source material which is already available online into a single, easily searchable document.