Spontaneous Poetics – (Campion’s Music)

AG: George [sic -a Naropa student], were you ever able to figure out the music? There’s a book of (Thomas) Campion in the library, with his own music. And those of you who are interested in music and can read music might check out the book because Campion has an essay on poetics, an essay on rhythm and rhythm in relation to music, on how to write songs, 1600, the best ear possible. [Allen is presumably referring to Campion’s Observations in the Art of English Poesie (1602)]

George [holding guitar]: All you have to do..

AG: What do I got to do?

George: …is a “D”

AG: Do you want me to pump? You want me to pump? [Allen begins playing the harmonium]

George: Yeah, okay, a “D”, a “D”…

AG: You change?

George: …at this line, put the “D”, a not-too-high  “D” – that’s alright.

AG: Oh really?

George: Yeah

AG: It never changes?

George: Yeah, you can (now play) Vobiscum Et Iope

[Allen begins singing, with harmonium accompaniment, the Campion poem – When Thou Must Home.. – “When thou has told these honours done to thee/ Then tell, O tell, how thou didst murder me”.]

AG: Terrific.

George: Yeah

AG: I didn’t.. you mean it’s only one (chord)?

George: No, you could have followed the cello part here, but, since you can’t read music..

AG: But that’s still on, that could be done on a “D” chord? – or an”A”? that’s an “A”?

George: Yeah “D”

AG: No, it was a “D’ minor.

George: And then here, see, where it starts to come down, when the melody starts to come down, you can put the bottom note on top..

AG: Uh-huh

George:  …the sequel. At that time music, of course was so much more…

AG: Wow!  Fantastic!

George: Yeah

AG: Let me try that. You didn’t hear the words probably

George: What’s the title?

AG:  The title is “When Thou Must Home To Shades of Underground” – number 20 in his songs and poems. I’ll read you the text so you can hear it, because it’s a terrific text and real famous, and, as he says, it’s adapted from a poem by (Sextus) Propertius (also translated by (Ezra) Pound later). Propertius, in Latin translation is – “There are so many thousand(s of) beauties among the dead. Let just one beauty stay above ground, if it may be. With you among the dead already is Iope, with you snowy (white) Tyro, with you is Europa and impious Pasiphae” – So it’s Campion’s adaptation. [Allen reads Campion’s poem in its entirety (“When thou must home to shades of underground/ And there arriv’d a new admired guest,/ The beauteous spirits do engirt thee round,/ White Iope, blithe Helen, and the rest,/ To hear the stories of thy finish’d love/ From that smooth tongue whose music hell can move;/ Then wilt thou speak of banqueting delights,/ Of masques and revels which sweet youth did make,/ Of tourneys and great challenges of knights,/ And all these triumphs for thy beauty’s sake:/ When thou has told these honours done to thee/ Then tell, O tell, how thou didst murder me” – “Murther me”! – [to George] Want to try singing it again?

George: Yeah

AG: Now that everyone knows the words.

George: Yeah. The reason I used that kind of accent is because that’s the way it was sung in those days. They sang with those.. to project your voice.. without having a nasal sound, without an electric microphone, that’s the way opera singers sing, that way, You have to make the sounds sound like that or it’ll sound obnoxious some people feel.

AG: Go on

[George & Allen begin with the song again. George begins and seven lines in, Allen joins in “for something approaching harmony“]

AG: That’s his music eh?

George: Yeah

AG: It’s real pretty. Real music

George: It sounds like a folk song or classical song.

AG: A pop song. A pop song in the taverns, I guess, wouldn’t it be? Do you know where it would be sung? Courts and taverns.

George: In courts not taverns

AG: Not taverns at all? He didn’t go out drinking and sing it to Shakespeare?

George: I don’t think so.

AG: He didn’t sing it to Shakespeare?

Student: I’ve got a question. Were they all constructed on block chords at the time, just  all  block chords ?

AG: George knows it. Were they still using all block chords?

George:  No there was a cello part and a harpsichord part too. But really it doesn’t change that much as..say.. Beethoven is changing every measure, he’s changing his chords. And that time, that time that’s Bach‘s time, where you could really have a bass part that just went continually. You had the instruments and voice and everything on top and..

Student: This is not Bach.

George: And it’s not Beethoven.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *