Thursday, 26 January 2017

Henry VIII: Pastyme with good companye (3 versions)

Henry VIII Pasytme with good companye
Image of the Cantus (melody) part of the original MS of Pastyme ...

I was watching the BBC programme Music and Monarchy when I heard this air being played, and it occurred to me that I had made an adaptation in an earlier foray into this music. Michael Parmenter on Ukeclassicaltabs had made a jolly version for re-entrant tuning, so I had a go at adapting it for low 4th uke, from various sources.

More recently I found a facsimile and a transcription of the original MS on Wikipedia (where else!) and so I  transcribed the three voices into uke tabs. This sounded a bit modal and discordant in places (see note below), so I made another adaptation based on the transcription by Allen Garvin, which seems more comfortable on the ears.

The block chord effect can be a bit heavy, so when playing I must admit to omitting some of the non-melody notes on un-accented beats; this makes it lighter (and easier to play). See how you get on.

There are more details in the comments at the end of the transcriptions. I admit that my confusion may be due to my inexperience in this field.

You can download the files in the following formats: pdf (preview), pdf auto download, TablEdit and MIDI.
Note added later: A very helpful correspondent ("Ukatee" on Ukulele Underground) explains it this way:

Accidentals in early music like this are a whole can of worms - try googling "musica ficta" and you will see what I mean! Basically these old manuscripts didn't add them as they were already implied by the rules and conventions of the time.

For example, an E natural against an Bb was strictly forbidden - "diabolus in musica" - and the singers would flatten the E. Their method of thinking in hexachords (a precursor of modern sol-fa) would make them do this automatically. In modern transcriptions the editor will indicate these 'extra' accidentals by either writing them above the note, or making them smaller than original ones. 

So, the first version of Pastyme provided here is more or less what was written, but not what was played.  I leave it here for the record, where it may help other beginners in the field. The second version, based on the Garvin transcription (which uses the convention just described for accidentals) is nearer the mark.

"Ukatee" has also pointed out that my comments about note length are incorrect: I said that they were as in the MS but in fact they are halved; they are however twice as long as in some published transcriptions. I must edit the files soon. So much to learn ...

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I hope you enjoy these arrangements. I would welcome your views, and comments on possible errors or improvements.