On Wed, 18 Nov 1998, Michael Zapf wrote:
> Apologies, if my question has been stated before (I would wonder if it
> hadn't), but are there any meaningful written sources as to articulation,
> interpretation, ornamentaion etc. of virginal music. Yes, I have all the
> Fergusons, but that seems to be it, other authors (i.e. Hogwood's Melothesia
> preface) by and large paraphrase Ferguson. In short - is there anything else
> but Ferguson which is worth reading, even if it is highly speculative?
Michael, as I recall, Ferguson devoted about a page to the subject in
Keyboard Interpretation. A better place to start would be the *most*
meaningful written sources: the manuscripts themselves, which contain a
great deal of information in the form of fingering indications and
ornament symbols. The Harvester Microform company has microfilmed many of
the sources of early English keyboard music as part of its series "Music
Manuscripts from the Great English Collections." A good research library
should own this set.
The trouble with modern editions such as Musica Britannica--ESPECIALLY
Musica Britannica--of the virginalist repertory is that the printed page
is almost always a conflated version of more than one source. For
example, in Allan Brown's edition of Byrd's "Walsingham," the fingerings
from Will. Forster's Virginal Book are pasted onto the text and ornaments
of My Ladye Nevells Booke! Under such conditions, it is impossible for a
performer/scholar to study the interrelationship between fingerings and
ornament signs within a single source. This in turn hinders solving key
problems to interpretation (e.g., articulation, and realization of the
ambiguous single- and double-slash symbols, which permeate virginalist
sources--a topic about which 16th and early 17th English theorists were
strangely mute, given the symbols' abundance).
Regarding the latter, in the absence of any written explanation closer in
place and time I use Santa Maria's (Valladolid, 1565) remarks about
quiebros as a backdrop. Other useful reading would be articles by Peter
le Huray (esp. his checklist of sources of Elizabethan keyboard music
containing fingerings, in the Dart Festschrift) and Desmond Hunter (see,
e.g., his article on Nevell in "Byrd Studies").