Name that tune.... renaissance style!

Chelys Consort of Viols
Chelys Consort of Viols

Chelys Consort of Viols will encourage you to Name That Tune in a special event for this year’s Brighton Early Music Festival.

They will be appearing on Friday, November 10 at 8pm in St George’s Church (café format – bring a picnic) when they will be asking: where did some of the most used and re-used renaissance melodies come from? Who wrote them first? Do they have a legacy today?The night will be pitched as a musical quiz.

Emily Ashton, Ibi Aziz, Jenny Bullock, Alison Kinder and Sam Stadlen on viols will be joined by soprano Emily Atkinson, countertenor David Gould and actor Sarah Finch.

Melodies, parts of pieces, and songs were often re-used by their composers, or borrowed by other composers, and a whole canon of pieces developed based on one original idea. The programme traces the origins of some of those ideas and offers the chance to test your knowledge of well-known early-music quotations. But if you don’t fancy the quiz, you can simply sit back and enjoy the night as the performers unravel history before your eyes.

Alison said: “The theme for Brighton this year is roots and origins, where some of our western music comes from. Some pieces are based around ideas that have become really well known. There are certain pieces people know that we can trace back to their beginnings. Other pieces we think we know and we are wondering ‘Where did that come from?’ We will be looking at things like folk tunes that got set to music by lots of other composers and turned into completely-new arrangements.

“We will start generally with the earliest settings of the pieces that we can find and then give examples of how they have been re-used, and we are going to run the evening a little bit like a quiz. People can either pick up a normal programme that has got the music listed in the normal way or they can pick up a special programme where we will have some of the names missing, and people will be able to fill in the gaps with the pieces they recognise.”

Only the “truly nerdy” will keep their tally going to the end, Alison laughs. The answers will be given as they go along: “But there are people that absolutely know their early music. There will be other people there who are just interested. It is fascinating. People took tunes and added to them – and you could never do that now! It would be frowned upon now. But back then, they created a tradition – and you just added to the music.”

The group has been going about ten years now, Alison says: “Some of us studied together at the same time; others studied with the same teacher but not at the same time. Others we have just got to know. The early-music world is quite a small world. You just meet the same people. We run into a lot of the same people at different things.”