Documentary on Byrd
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    It's unbelievably good

  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 982
    Just heavenly. I really believe Byrd to be the "great" English composer, with all due respect to the many others that I love (Finzi, Vaughn-Williams, Howells to name a few)
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Byrd, the Catholic, is arguably the greatest Tudor composer. What a delightful irony.

    I wonder whether Byrd heard his music performed at such a high technical standard. Is there any reason to doubt this? Are we really hearing what Byrd heard? I'm not an expert, but I can't help but think the answer is clearly yes.
  • We can only guess at the artistic standard which Byrd et al. heard in their times. It is certain that vocal placement, accent, and tonal aesthetic would have been quite different from those of our time, English or not. Some sources would suggest that attendance by singers (salaried, yet!) at their various establishments was often lax and their singing ill prepared if not disastrous. Others would attest to a higher standard - depending on time and place. Latin would have been, in England, pronounced more or less in accordance with English pronunciation of the time, not the quasi-Italian 'church-Latin' (a convention not more than 150 years old) to which we are accustomed. Pitch was different,varied widely, and remains a topic of debate. And, (a crucial difference) their ears were not attuned to the well-tempered standard which permeates the vocal & instrumental music of our time. Also, on all the music heard here the treble would have been sung by boys, whose timbre, despite the finest and most laudable attempts (such as here), cannot be matched by that of women. (And, I am NOT suggesting that women should not sing this music, nor that the timbre of women's voices is less than beautiful - merely making a technical observation: it's not the same sound.) Finally, it is distinctly possible that singers of the Renaissance (and other periods as well) did not approach this music with quite the same ideal of excruciatingly distilled refinement which we highly prize and delight in. [This documentary was a real treat! Thanks to Jeffrey for posting it.]
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I would like to point to this as an example of a general phenom. This documentary was made in 2004. It was seen probably by very few. It's Amazon sales rank was 110,000 before it went online and I posted yesterday.

    Right now, the Amazon sales rank is 13,000. In other words, posting it caused a massive leap in sales.

    So far as I'm concerned, producers are working against their self interest by keeping things off line. The "pirates" who are posting this material are their benefactors of the production firms who are making war against them. This is a perfect case in point.

    The problem isn't piracy. It is obscurity. Fortunately, some generous soul out there decided to make this amazing documentary un-obscure.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    MJO, thanks for that excellent reflection. I hope that Byrd can hear the Tallis Scholars; they do a beautiful job.

    Jeffrey, it is indeed a perfect case in point. It also illustrates unmet demand in the market, no? There are people out there thirsty for better music.