Renaissance naming conventions

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Cass Couvelas
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Renaissance naming conventions

Post by Cass Couvelas » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:20 pm

I’ve been enjoying browsing Pogmoor’s hugely informative website,

I always smile at the quaint gentility (to my 21st-century eyes) in the convention of naming pieces with people’s names; anything from the straightforward Dr Case's Pavan to the somewhat more baffling mouthful The Short Mesure off my Lady Wynkfyld's Rownde.

Generally speaking, would those eponymous folk have been responsible for commissioning the piece, or would they have been people the composers particularly wanted to flatter?
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Re: Renaissance naming conventions

Post by pogmoor » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:55 pm

Some names from the English renaissance are totally baffling - the anonymous Militis Dump and John Whitfield's Mr. Strangs Gregory Hitts are two that come to mind. Some pieces are very clearly dedicated to composers' sponsors - the grandest title I can think of being The Most High and Mighty Christianus the Fourth, King of Denmark, his Galliard - by John Dowland, when he was working for the King of Denmark. The great majority of pieces are found only in manuscript collections, a lot have no title or a generic title such as Allemande and some have names reflecting a popular tune they are based on such as Go From my Window. Some even have names that raise the suspicion the musician or scribe involved may have misheard an unfamiliar name - there are pieces from the 17th century entitled Serebrand (surely a mishearing of Sarabande) and there is a piece in the Willoughby Lute Book entitled Quando Claro, Quando Claro which looks like a 'cod Latin' mishearing of Conde Claros (it's certainly the same tune). It's all a bit of a hotch-potch really!
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Lester Backshall (2008), Ramirez (Guitarra del Tiempo 2017),
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Re: Renaissance naming conventions

Post by sxedio » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:42 pm

This kind of naming convention survived well after the renaissance in late 18th and 19th century fiddle music publications, and folk composers still use this kind of tune names, usually a way to dedicate a piece to someone, and sometimes indeed an acknowledgment of a sponsor.
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