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The Night Watch: All in a Garden Green / Gathering Peascods

The Night Watch: All in a Garden Green / Gathering Peascods

'All In A Garden Green' appears in 1565-6 in the Stationers’ Register, recording 'All in a garden grene, between ij lovers; a Merrye new ballad of a countrye wench and a clowne'. Another song of an outcast lover, to 'All in a Garden green', appears in 'A Handfull of Pleasant Delites', 1584, by “Clement Robinson and Divers Others”. However, neither set of words fit this tune, though they do appear to fit the altogether different 'All in a Garden green' set by William Byrd in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, early 17th century, so it is entirely possible that the two earlier 'All in a garden green's are musically unrelated to that in 'The English Dancing Master or Plaine and Easie Rules for the Dancing of Country Dances', compiled by John Playford (1623-1686), first edition, 1651, as played here.

That is followed by a tune which musically shares the notes of the first 8 beats, 'Gathering Peascods'. Twenty or thirty years before Playford's collection it was intabulated in the personal lute music collection of Margaret Board, c.1620-30. A peascod is a pea pod.

The Night Watch : Sumer is icumen in (Warwick Folk Club)

The Night Watch : Sumer is icumen in (Warwick Folk Club)

'Sumer is icumen in' - in modern English, 'Summer has come in' - is the second oldest surviving English secular song, celebrating the sights and sounds of summer, written down c.1250. The song is a round (everyone sings the same part, but starting at different times), which can involve up to six singers plus those singing the ground bass (repeating bass line). This was recorded as a two part round with the audience singing the ground bass. Thanks to Warwick Folk Club.

The Night Watch : Lollay lay lay lay

The Night Watch : Lollay lay lay lay

'Lollay lay lay lay' is from a collection of words to carols in English and Latin (MS S.54 at St John's College, Cambridge), dated 1470s-80s. The fact that the book includes no music and is quite fragile (the folded papers only survived because they are stitched into a scruffy and ill-fitting vellum wallet), suggests that it was not a script for performance; though the unity of contents suggests the book was used as an aide-mémoire for two people serious about carolling.

At this point in time, a carol was not merely a Christmas song - it wasn't until c.1550 that 'carol' took on its modern meaning. These carols were round dances, sung by the participants. They were often sung with no musicians: the dancers provided their own rhythm by singing the chorus - always sung first - and the leader sang the verses while the circle stood still.

Since there was no music, Ian of The Night Watch composed some in keeping with the period.

Played on rebec and gittern from The Night Watch's show, 'Drive the Cold Winter Away', Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), 7 December 2012.

The Night Watch: dance on Cantiga 353

The Night Watch: dance on Cantiga 353

Cantiga 353 is from 'Cantigas de Santa María' = 'Songs of Saint Mary', a song book compiled during the reign of Alfonso X, El Sabio (The Wise), 1221-1284, King of Castile and León. Almost all the songs have melodies taken from existing compositions; the words were written by the king himself, largely miracle stories about the Virgin, the rest songs in her praise. It is one of the largest collections of monophonic songs from the middle ages and its beautiful illustrations are an invaluable source of information about the musical instruments of the day, including the oud and bagpipes played by The Night Watch on this piece.

From The Night Watch's show, 'Drive the Cold Winter Away', Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), 7 December 2012.

The Night Watch : There Comes A Ship A-Sailing

The Night Watch : There Comes A Ship A-Sailing

'There comes a ship a sailing' is a traditional German nativity carol which accumulated verses through the late mediaeval, renaissance and early baroque periods. The first two verses are from a ms. dated 1470-80, now in the Royal Library, Berlin; the remaining verses are from Jan Suderman, 'Gesange' ('Song'), 1626; and the melody is that given for it in 'Andernach Gesangbuch' ('Andernach Hymns'), Köln, 1608. Ian of The Night Watch has made his own attempt to put the original German words into modern English.

Played on psaltery and gittern from The Night Watch's show, 'Drive the Cold Winter Away', Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), 7 December 2012.

The Night Watch : Noël nouvelet

The Night Watch : Noël nouvelet

'Noël nouvelet' is a traditional French new year carol, originating in the early 15th century and becoming one of the most popular of the 16th century. The earliest complete source for the words is the Arsénal ms. 3653 in Paris, copied in the 1490s, a beautiful representation by a professional scribe for a high born family of the different types of noël or Christmas song in the French oral tradition. The Arsénal ms. does not give the tune, which did not appear in writing until the 17th century. The words used here are selected and translated from the 'Grande Bible des noels, tant vieux que nouveaux' ('Large Book of carols, both old and new'), published in 1721. The refrain, "Noël nouvelet, Noël chantons icy" means roughly, 'New Christmas song, Christmas song sing here!' The hymn writer John M. C. Crum made the tune more widely known by setting his hymn, 'Now The Green Blade Riseth', to it in 1928.

From The Night Watch's show, 'Drive the Cold Winter Away', Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), 7 December 2012.

The Night Watch : Holde thy peace / Three merry men

The Night Watch : Holde thy peace / Three merry men

'Holde thy peace' and 'Three merry men' are mentioned in Act 2, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' (c.1600-1601), a scene which is full of music and musical references.

'Holde thy peace', a catch for three voices, first appeared in print in Thomas Ravenscroft's 'Deuteromelia', 1609. 'Twelfth Night' predates 'Deuteromelia' by nearly a decade and Ravenscroft would have been only 10 or 11 years old when 'Twelfth Night' was written.

The words and music of 'Three merry men' are included in a 17th century common-place book, date unknown, in the handwriting of the same John Playford who compiled and published 'The Dancing Master'. The words of the song are also quoted in an anonymous tract of 1605 (by C.T.), 'Laugh and Lie Down', and quoted or sung in many contemporaneous plays. There is only verse and it is not a catch or a canon, but we have made it one.

From The Night Watch's show, 'Drive the Cold Winter Away', Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), 7 December 2012.

The Night Watch : Lamento di Tristano & La Rotta

The Night Watch : Lamento di Tristano & La Rotta

The Night Watch play Lamento di Tristano & La Rotta, recorded at The Woodman Folk Club. These paired anonymous dance tunes are from Italy, c.1390, in the Harley 29987 ms., now in the British Museum. It was common for dances of later eras to be paired, most notably the slow, elegant pavan and the lively, energetic galliard of the renaissance. We don't know who the Tristano of the title was, but it is possible that it relates to the tragic story of Tristan and Isolde, which inspired much music over the centuries.

The rotta is a mediaeval stringed instrument, a type of lyre which developed from the ancient Greek kithara or cithara. Examples of early rottas are found in miniatures from the 8th to the 14th century. An actual instrument was found in an Alamannic tomb in the Black Forest, dated 4th-7th century, now preserved in the Volker Museum, Berlin.

The Night Watch : a log of the Winter Warmer

The Night Watch : a log of the Winter Warmer

Extracts from Winter Winter, The Night Watch's sold-out show at The Artrix, Bromsgrove, on the theme of winter and Christmas early music.

Items in this video:

Edi Beo Thu, Hevene Quene, anon. England, late 13th century - voices, simfony, gittern
Noel Nouvelet, trad. France, 15th-17th c. - voices, gittern, shawm
Adam lay i-bowndyn (Adam lay ybounden), anonymous, England, c.1400 - voice, simfony
Never weather-beaten sail, Thomas Campion, England, 1613 - voice, treble lute
branle de l'Official, trad. France, 16th c. - recorder, cittern
Tourdion: When I'm drinking claret, trad. France, 16th c. - voices, rebec, 4 course guitar
The Night Watch, Anthony Holborne, England, 1597 - recorder, 4 course guitar
branle de la torche, trad. France, 16th c., trad. Germany, 17th c. - recorders, 4 course guitar, shawm, ankle bells
westron wynde, anon. England, 16th c. - voices, gemshorn, gittern
There comes a ship a-sailing, trad. Germany, 15th-17th c. - psaltery, gittern, voice
Remember O thou man, Thomas Ravenscroft, England, 1611 - voices, 4 course guitar, recorder

The Night Watch : When that I was and a little tiny boy (Twelfth Night)

The Night Watch : When that I was and a little tiny boy (Twelfth Night)

When that I was and a little tiny boy, sung by Feste in the epilogue to William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Performed on treble lute and bass recorder by The Night Watch, from Winter Winter, their sold-out show at The Artrix, Bromsgrove, on the theme of winter and Christmas early music.