“Be it known that all musical instruments, in comparison to the human voice, are inferior to it. For this reason, we should endeavour to learn from it and to imitate it.” – Silvestro Ganassi, La Fontegara (1535)
This statement summarises the common approach to instrumental music-making from the 16th until the late 18th century. Ganassi and many other well-regarded musicians, composers and theorists discussed and reinforced the importance of imitating the human voice when playing music on any instrument. It is therefore essential to be aware of the degree of language, rhetoric, syntax and grammar to be found in any composition of that period – be it with a text or without one.
What defines a vocal sound? How does one apply its qualities to an instrument? Should every composition from the 16th until 18th century evolve into a “song without words”? How does one ensure uniqueness? And finally, why should one match the human voice in playing?
“Of the kinds of Musick, Vocal has always had the Preference in esteem: and by consequence the Recorder (as approaching nearest to the sweet delightfulness of the Voice) ought to have the first place…” – Humphrey Salter, The Genteel Companion, London, 1683
The CD attempting some answers to these questions was released by bei TYXart – the musicArt Label in 2016.
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