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Started by KizzyK on Mar 8, 2022 5:16:28 PM

So I have to write some Anglo-Saxon song for this project & am trying to find out what the latest thoughts are on AS tuning/scales/harmony etc. Also whether there is any reference in the surviving literature to work songs, sea songs or similar. If anyone has any thoughts or leads please let me know!

crabbyoldbat - 08 Mar 2022 18:09:50 (#1 of 58)

I know nothing, but try linking on a popular music thread as well, perhaps?

crabbyoldbat - 08 Mar 2022 18:10:40 (#2 of 58)

Not a pop thread, I mean one with people on it

thisonehasalittlehat - 08 Mar 2022 18:12:10 (#3 of 58)

Given that AS uses alliterative verse rhythm probably more a factor than melody. Unless you mean the good botherers like Bede in which case it'd be your standard medieval choral. That's what I reckon.

Eligelis - 08 Mar 2022 18:13:37 (#4 of 58)

Hatters is probably the best goto for this. I've got some books on the subject but I only really scratch the surface.

KizzyK - 08 Mar 2022 18:14:29 (#5 of 58)

Well we know they had lures, sheep/deer bone flutes & a form of pan pipes so there was definitely some melody going on, though tuning is hard to determine. But yes I think rhythm & clapping would be likely important.

thisonehasalittlehat - 08 Mar 2022 18:14:31 (#6 of 58)

No it's too early for me! Just guessing.

mingmong - 08 Mar 2022 18:14:37 (#7 of 58)

A certain amount is known about Old English metrics, but virtually nothing (AFAICS) about its harmonic aspects.

I would advise broadening your search to early medieval/traditional North European music generally

mingmong - 08 Mar 2022 18:15:39 (#8 of 58)

I tried looking into for Welsh music/song, and there is very little solid information prior to 1500

thisonehasalittlehat - 08 Mar 2022 18:17:22 (#9 of 58)

Doesn't standard notation come later? So it is going to be guesswork. I'd be tempted to do grime as that's deffo the spirit of the poetry anyway.

elderberry - 08 Mar 2022 18:18:29 (#10 of 58)

Not my subject at all, but this woman works on early medieval as well as later medieval music, and does advise on performances, so bibliographies in her publications might be worth checking out.

The only stuff tangential to Early English song that comes to mind is The Dream of the Rood - inevitably the scraps of writings from the period were produced by Christians.

There's a strong push from early medieval scholars to drop the term 'Anglo Saxon' which is not an accurate description of the geographic origins of the people so described, and which has been adopted with enthusiasm by neo-fascists.

Eligelis - 08 Mar 2022 18:18:50 (#11 of 58)

Lines split into two roughly equal parts, with an alliteration pattern in the words. Usually one specific consonant (or equivalent) is emphasised in the first part of the line, echoed twice more more in emphasis in the second part.

If I remember anything close to correctly, the number of syllables in the line is not important, the fundamental rythmn is. T lines won't rhyme but they should follow a recognisable pattern.

KizzyK - 08 Mar 2022 18:19:57 (#12 of 58)

Thanks MingMong, l am already reasonably knowledgeable about medieval & traditional music having studied it & that tends to be what people use as a springboard for this kind of project certainly. I'm just trying to find out if any of that knowledge has been updated since I was at university I suppose, with more recent finds giving more clues. I know far less about the language, pronunciation, content etc so hoping to find some info on that too once I have the texts they want me to choose from.

thisonehasalittlehat - 08 Mar 2022 18:20:56 (#13 of 58)

Syllables don't matter is the regular alliterative stresses like rap.

thisonehasalittlehat - 08 Mar 2022 18:22:11 (#14 of 58)

(Except they don't always alliterate in rap if course)

Eligelis - 08 Mar 2022 18:22:25 (#15 of 58)

As hatters suggested, from what's known, an instrument would probably be a very simple accompnayment to the voice of the skald.

KizzyK - 08 Mar 2022 18:23:13 (#16 of 58)

Ha Elderberry, can completely see why people want to drop the term Anglo-Saxon, maybe I should just call them Saxons?

Its all a bit too modern for the archaeology I really like so I'm not particularly clued up on the history of this period!

Tomnoddy - 08 Mar 2022 18:24:25 (#17 of 58)

Poor old Angles.

Eligelis - 08 Mar 2022 18:26:59 (#18 of 58)

Oh yes; check the use of kennings, phrases that associate with the thing in question, such as the sea being called "The Whale Road". They are used a lot.

breakfast - 08 Mar 2022 18:27:42 (#19 of 58)

Non angles sed angeli

KizzyK - 08 Mar 2022 18:27:51 (#20 of 58)

I'm interested in what they would have sung whilst rowing & hauling to keep in time so it would naturally have to be very rhythmic. A lot of the old 'people dressed up as Saxons playing a lute' type music tends to be in a minor key and very wafty, wouldn't really work for hauling a long ship across land, cutting the timbers with axes, rowing in a storm etc!

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