Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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108                                   ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
residence of Mr. Buller, the sheriff, says, " It was sometime the Wideslade's inheritance, until the father's rebellion forfeited it," and the " son then led a walking life with his harp, to gentlemen's houses, where-through, and by his other active qualities, he was entitled Sir Tristram; neither wanted he (as some say) a ' belle Isound,' the more aptly to resemble his pattern."
So in the "Pleasant, plain, and pithy pathway,leading to a virtuous and honest life" (about 1550),
" Very lusty I was, and pleasant withall, To sing, dance, and play at the ball .... And besides all this, I could then finely play On the harp much better than now far away, By which my minstrelsy and my fair speech and sport, All the maids in the parish to me did resort." As minstrelsy declined, the harp became the common resource of the blind, and towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth, harpers were proverbially blind: " If thou'lt not have her look'd on by thy guests, Bid none but harpers henceforth to thy feasts."
Guilpin's Skialetkeia, 1598. There are many ballads about blind harpers, and many tricks were played upon them, such as a rogue engaging a harper to perform at a tavern, and stealing the plate "while the unseeing harper plays on." As to the other street and tavern musicians, Gosson tells us, in his Short Apologie of the Schoole of Abuse, 1586, that " London is so full of unprofitable pipers and fiddlers, that a man can no sooner enter a tavern, than two or three cast {i.e., companies) of them, hang at his heels, to give him a dance before he departs," but they sang ballads and catches as well as played dances. They also played at dinner,
" Not a dish removed But to the music, nor a drop of wine Mixt with the water, without harmony." " Thou need no more send for a fidler to a feast (says Lyly), than a beggar to a fair."
Part-Singing, and especially the singing Rounds, or Roundelays, and Catches, was general throughout England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the Moralities and the earliest plays, when part-music was sung instead of old ballads, it was generally in Canon, for although neither Round, Catch, nor Canon be specified, we find some direction from the one to the other to sing after him.* Thus, in the old Morality called New Custome (Dodsley, vol. i.), Avarice says: " But, Sirs, because we have tarried so long, ■' If you be good fellows, let us depart with a song." To which Cruelty answers :
" I am pleased, and therefore let every man Follow after in order as well as he can."
■ Catch, Round 01 Roundelay, and Canon in unison, are, in music, nearly the same thing. In all, the harmony is to he sung by several persons; and is so contrived, that, though each sings precisely the same notes as his fellows, yet, by beginning at stated periods of time from each
other, there results a harmony of as many parts as there are singers. The Oatch differs only in that the words of one part aTe made to answer, or catch the other; as, "Ah 1 how, Sophia," sung like " a house o' fire," '* Burney's History," like " burn his history," &c.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III