Charles Butler’s The feminine monarchy, or, The history of bees first appeared as a small duodecimo in 1609; it was reprinted, with considerable additions and alterations, as a quarto in 1627, and again in 1634. Though it was intended merely as a bee-keeper’s manual, its beauty and insight render it worthy of a place among the renowned works of nineteenth-century poetry.
While in most matters the work is extraordinarily accurate, it becomes questionable when Butler turns to music. His account of a certain point in the hive’s life cycle might be thought to credit bees with the powers of a masterful composer. Butler’s depiction of this event—which he refers to as “the bees’ madrigal”—appears to present a carefully constructed four-part chorus.
This according to “Charles Butler and the music of the bees” by Gerald R. Hayes (The musical times LXVI/988 [1 June 1925] pp. 512–515). This issue of The musical times, along with many others, is covered in our new RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text collection.
Above, some of Butler’s notations from the later, enlarged edition (note that verso and recto considerations result in part of the notation appearing upside-down). Below, a performance of the work.
In 2015 Reichenberger launched the series Iberian early music studies with New perspectives on early music in Spain, edited by Tess Knighton and Emilio Ros-Fábregas.
The volume brings together research by scholars—both well established and of younger generations, both Spanish and from all over the world—that offers new perspectives on many aspects of early musical culture on the Peninsula, whether regarding the Ars Nova or the Counter-Reformation, music historiography or analysis, early improvisation techniques or imitatio in Renaissance polyphony, or questions of performance practice or ambassadorial musical networks, making an important contribution to establishing and sustaining a valuable discourse with the broader European context.
Below, a selection from the Cantigas de Santa Maria, the subject of one of the articles in the inaugural issue.
Many are the creatures of the air, water, and earth that inhabit the verses of Italian madrigals, sonnets, and canzoni.
The poets of the 16th and 17th centuries—Torquato Tasso, Giovanni Battista Guarini, and Giambattista Marino, to mention the most famous—found an erotic metaphor in the bee, which is both sweet and stinging.
There are also the little parasites that annoy and explore the desired body. All the animal species are represented in this repertoire: insects, fish and crustaceans, snakes, small mammals and ferocious predators, singing birds, and fantastical beasts.
This according to “Hic sunt leones: Animali e musica nella Sicilia nel Cinque e Seicento” by Giuseppe Collisani, an article included in Res facta nova: Teksty o muzyce współczesnej VI/15  pp. 51–68).
Above, a 17th-century Italian bee in a painting by Giovanna Garzoni; below, Giovanni de Macque’s Ne i vostri dolci baci; the work’s text includes the bee metaphor.
In 2014 Ut Orpheus issued L’amorosa caccia: 24 five-voice madrigals by Mantuan masters (Venezia 1588/1592), edited by Stefania Lanzo.
All of the Mantuan composers represented in this new edition were distinguished professional people, working within the church, at court, or in the Basilica Palatina di Santa Barbara, and music lovers of noble birth from the area who were connected to the Accademia degli Invaghiti.
The realization in score of the madrigals has made it possible to bring to light this collection, establishing its musical value and proving the remarkable mastery of madrigal writing of these 24 musicians and offering the opportunity to highlight each one’s different skill as a composer.
Below, a sequence of Italian madrigals.
In 2014 DIAMM facsimiles published The Henry VIII book, a full-color facsimile of GB-Lbl MS Add.31922, which contains many works by Henry VIII of England.
This new edition presents over 260 full-color page images plus an 85-page introduction by David Fallows, who examines the book with fresh eyes and shares considerable new information about the content and context of this manuscript.
Below, two of King Henry’s works for recorders.
A catalogue of Mass, Office, and Holy Week music printed in Italy, 1516–1770 focuses on the vast repertoire (comprising approximately 2000 sources) of music for the Office, Holy Week, and the Mass published in Italy from 1516 to the cessation of the printing of such repertoire in the latter part of the 18th century. Even by the end of the first quarter of the Settecento, Italian prints of sacred music were quite rare.
Compiled by Jeffrey G. Kurtzman and Anne Schnoebelen for the JSCM Instrumenta series, this free online resource includes a wide range of indices, from academic references to publishers.
Above, Girolamo Frescobaldi’s Secondo libro, an edition covered in detail in the catalogue (click to enlarge); below, his Ave Maris stella, one of the works preserved in this edition.
The Gibbons hymnal: Hymns and anthems (London: Novello, 2013) presents the 17 hymn tunes composed by Orlando Gibbons for George Wither’s The hymnes and songs of the church (1623), many of which are still popular today. This is the first modern edition that incorporates Wither’s hymn texts beyond the first verses.
Gibbons composed treble and bass lines for the hymns; the editor, David Skinner, has constructed the inner voices to create a collection of pieces that can be performed either as hymns or as simple anthems. Also in this volume are Gibbons’s ten surviving full anthems.
Below, Gibbons’s O clap your hands, one of the anthems included in the edition.
The frontispiece of Andrea Antico’s Frottole intabulate da sonare organi libro primo (1517) features a woodcut of a player at a harpsichord, a singer holding a score, and a monkey holding a lute.
The image involves a symbolic mocking of Antico’s rival, the publisher Ottaviano Petrucci. Antico had greater success than Petrucci in publishing keyboard music, and the allusions in the frontispiece highlight this fact. The monkey is meant to symbolize Petrucci, and the singer is Lady Music, who is pointing her finger accusingly at him.
This according to “A monkey business: Petrucci, Antico, and the frottola intabulation” by Hiroyuki Minamino (Journal of the Lute Society of America 26–27 [1993–94] pp. 96–106).
Above, the woodcut in question; below, Ensemble Renaissance performs Antico’s frottola Vale iniqua.
The Tallis psalter: Psalms and anthems, canticles, preces and responses (London: Novello, 2013) is a complete edition of the Psalter, enabling a performance within the Anglican liturgy for the first time in centuries.
The original Psalter contains Thomas Tallis’s nine tunes set to metrical verses by Archbishop Matthew Parker, and published around 1567. Many of the tunes have since been reworked as popular hymns.
Also included are Tallis’s surviving English anthems, including popular works and lesser-known miniatures. The volume is edited by David Skinner.
Below, The Byrd Ensemble performs Tallis’s nine psalms.