This month I’ve returned to Renaissance Music.
For the uninitiated, the Renaissance Era is sandwiched between the Medieval and Baroque Periods, with some overlap. A good ballpark figure is 1300-1600 A.D.
I understand the Renaissance wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, when unspeakable things still happened without question. However, the period was noted for progress, especially in the arts.
In the Twenty-First Century, the preferred method of familiarizing ourselves with early music — or any type of music — is buying some of it on iTunes and listening through earbuds. There’s also Spotify, other streaming services and CDs. The local Catholic Parish might hold an afternoon concert that fits the mood better, so look for it.
For now, an image of one of Carravaggio’s lute player paintings is on my phone and laptop screens. I may even hit the Middle English Classic, Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. For a long time now, I’ve had questions about Chaucer’s “(word not permitted in social media promotions for this post) Shepherd,” the subject of an anecdote in Canterbury Tales.
If you want to know the forbidden word and don’t have time to read Chaucer, think of a one syllable gem, commonly shouted in anger. Then add a second t and a y. That word would have served as the coup de grâce in the censorship struggle over Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place, but there was a cubbyhole for it in Fourteenth Century literature.
I earned a high school equivalency certificate in the second half of my junior year, and completed only one community college course — Creative Writing. These moods that come out of left field give me an opportunity to add to my self-education.
The title of the latest music collection on my iPhone is Lute Music, Volume 2: Early Italian Renaissance Music (composers unknown). The artist is Paul O’Dette. He plays a mean lute. Check it out.
When I heard Volume 2 of this fine collection, I went looking online for Volume 1. It turns out Volume 1 (available on CD) is actually later music, from the Baroque Era. Baroque is pretty easy to find, so I may not go out of my way to listen to the first disc. Just finding it was comforting to my O.C.D. mentality, though. I’ve spent years pondering whatever happened to Preparations A through G, and can always appreciate when there isn’t something new and hopeless to think about.
The modern miracle of double-paned windows allow city dwellers to enjoy early music without being reminded that we live in a noisy world of cars, sirens and power tools. There are pluses and minuses to everything.
For the record, the first English dictionaries were compiled in the Sixteenth Century A.D. Here’s a link to a page on the Oxford English Dictionary website, to bring you up-to-date on something you may never have been curious about. Please take a look at it anyway. History always has a connection to the future: