Early English Musick 1385-1714 is primarily a biographical dictionary of musicians in Tudor and Stuart Britain. Coverage is intended to be somewhat broad from Late Medieval England into Early Modern England. Both sacred music and secular music of the respective periods are covered.
There is a certain emphasis on the coverage of the major musical centers of the period including: The Royal Court and the Chapel Royals, Greater London and its churches, theaters and concert halls, English Cathedrals, Music Universities, major cities, and religious centers. Professional, and church musicians, composers, scholars of note, and some not so well known may be found here. He have also included some members of the larger musical community that are often over looked in other works of the period: teachers and instructors, instrument makers, organ builders, publishers, writers, etc.
Early English Musick (EEM) is not being presented as a comprehensive biographical reference resource in music for the periods covered. This we will leave for others to accomplish with the adequate staffing and resources for a larger comprehensive work. EEM has also excluded certain facets of the larger musical culture from its coverage for a more focused area of coverage, such as military groups, etc. EEM will continue to add to, and to update and to maintain the database on a somewhat regular basis, time and personal permitting. The selection of, and the inclusion of the individuals listed in EEM is solely at the discretion of its editors.
The original format for EEM was a dictionary of English organists and
organ music of the period. This original research was later expanded,
and helped to form the basis of what is now Early English Musick (EEM).
There is still a bias towards organ music and the organist in EEM.
EEM still suffers from many of the same disparities as larger works when
dealing with both prominent musicians and composers, and those lesser known
individuals when both are included in the same database. These concerns
exists is any reference work that extends it coverage beyond the famous
and well known.
The generic term of musician has been used to describe the majority
of individuals included within EEM, c.1400-1700. The ability to sing and or play upon an
instrument, and to improvise a tune, or to compose music upon an instrument were
basic skills often required of all musicians of this period. The level of these skill often determined their standard of living. Not unlike modern day, musicians were mostly freelance, or itinerant, worked for an individual, or part of a group, or institution, or for the Church, religious or non-religious. Your level of musical talent usually determined your status which might be quite comfortable.
Wealthy individuals, or institutions might often required musicians for their particular needs. Many upper class families often considered a musical education as a prerequisite of ones social status, especially for the young ladies of the family. Tutors and teachers were often under contract to perform these duties. Some very wealthy families might keep their own resident musician to provide music, and act as the family tutor. Some very famous musicians of the period made a very good living in this manner, and were a point of social status for the family in turn.
before 1550 were often referred to as minstrels. Those individuals
with special talents or skills are also noted here. Some individual musicians would
develop reputations as public performers, and or as composers of sacred and secular
Some musicians were teachers or free agents, some worked in private
service. Some were members of guilds or city musicians, and others
worked for various public institutions in a musical capacity. Music was
an integral part of public life within
Tudor and Jacobean society. Many individuals included their love
of music as part of their dedication as church musicians.
With the Dissolution of the Monasteries, a major portion of the
national music community associated with the Church of England
its various religious communities and institutions were gone.
After 1535 most of these religious institutions and communities were
torn down, and or sold off by the Crown. On the whole, most of
libraries and archives were unfortunately became lost to later
These institutions and their music programs dedicated to the Glory of
God, and the celebration of their religious services fell silent. Many
of their musicians sought positions at those remaining religious institutions,
at universities and colleges, or other institutions. Many of these musicians were drawn
to the larger metropolitan areas such as London. Secular
and sacred music and its performance were promoted there.
Many public institutions of the day included musical functions and
religious services in their charters. Many of these same institutions
conducted their own music schools as part of its basic organizational structure.
They too needed trained musicians to help support their own musical programs.
There were many avenues available to well trained musicians. Some
musicians might find employment in a guild. Admission to a guild
could be difficult. Membership qualifications were generally
high, and there were
often a limited number of positions available. Admission might
having the right connections, or family ties. Certain musical
families often exercised influence in certain guilds over time.
Many of the older walled cities dating from the Medieval period might
employ city musicians or waites as they were known. Originally
known as city watchmen, they gradually added a musical aspect to their
jobs until they functioned as city bands. These were good jobs with
high standards. often restricted based on family relationships. Many
might span many generations in a local community or area.
Colleges and universities educated and trained musicians, they also employed
them as staff members. Choral scholars provided singing men for their men and boy choirs.
Each college had its own chapel with organ to provide religious services for
its own college staff and student body.
Many English universities and college
were administratively responsible
to the local bishop and the Church of England. The Church
great deal of authority over the administration of and the
most universities and colleges. In addition to the lay
community, there were ordained clergy, or
members of religious orders, etc. Oxford
University,University of Cambridge, and Eton College (Windsor) were good
examples of this.
Cities and towns both large and small were filled with parish
churches of various sizes
and wealth. Choirs of singing men and boy choristers, a choir
masters, an organists
were basic elements to any good sized parish musical program by
1600. Paid singingmen also called Conducts were often part-time
employees of the parish trying to make ends meet. Even the smallest
might employ musicians for a paid quartet to supplement the
church choir, or supply music for poorer communities lack an organ.
Remember church services were daily from morning to evening.
The training of musicians was a major component of the system. Some
children might start as choir boys in some institution. Young musicians
wanting to learn the "trade" usually went through an apprenticeship
usually lasting about seven years. Young musicians having been
accepted would sign a contract
with a master teacher who would provide musical training to them
in exchange for
specific duties to be performed by the apprentice. It was an
of on-the-job training. Some apprentices often left with a new
wife, a daughter of the household.
Many wealthy families especially among the landed gentry and the
noble households often
retained musicians in their own family household as house
musicians, or as
teachers in singing, playing, or dance to their family. Families
with private chapels might hire musicians to perform during religious
services. Many famous instrumentalists especially the
madrigalist's were often supported by wealth patrons as personal
Those musician with specialized duties or offices have been noted,
vicar-choral, organists, Master of the Choristers, Instructor
of the Choristers, Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, or Musician in
Ordinary. Many musicians were associated
with the public performance of secular music in its various
venues, concert artists, theatre musicians, dancers, etc. they too have
a place of honor.
Many foreign born musicians found employment and fame in Britain, as
composers, concert artists, as traveling musicians, or as Court musicians.
Some musician might gained fame and wealth, but most were hard working
individuals applying their profession. King Henry VIII was noted for importing and hiring
foreign born musicians at his Court. The Bassano, and the Ferrabosco families
are examples of Jewish musicians from Italy as cases in point.
Greater London was the hub or center of English music. The Royal
Court and the
Chapel Royal, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, St
Stephen's (Westminster) were the major components of this interrelated
A number of other Royal Chapels existed before the Restoration
Nearby were Oxford University and Cambridge University were major
of this musical community. St George's Chapel
(Windsor), Eton College (Windsor) and Magdalen College (Oxford)
were part of the new music foundations. And farther afield were the many
and abbeys and monasteries, etc., across England before the
Reformation, with their own
musical programs as potential sources for new singer or
their respective needs.
Biographical information in EEM is arranged in a standardized format
which has been modified to the needs of the editors. Much of the information
especially for those more prominent individuals has become rather standardized.
Those individuals of lesser known fame are still only known by limited
or often incomplete data. Some individuals are still only a brief note in a old ledger book.
Additional research will gradually filled in those missing blanks. Modern
scholarship is expanding our store of knowledge and providing new data,
and constantly updating older research sources as it becomes available. EEM is not a static resource
for this reason.
Early English Musick (EEM) is divided into seven basic musical time frames.
Each period represents a period or style in British musical history. The
terminology of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music periods when applied
to England usually represent later manifestations of those same musical
periods in Europe.
Within each of the historical sections, individuals are arranged alphabetically
by family name. There is a major historical problem with the lack of standardization
of spelling patterns of British family names before 1660. EEM has attempted
to include known spelling variation where possible for families or individuals
where known. This information can only be approximated at best.
Certain English male surnames were quite popular during this period:
Charles, Edward, Henry, John, James, Richard, Robert, Thomas, and William.
It was not uncommon for male children of the same family, or multi-generations might
have the same surname of their father or grandfathers. Having
an extended musical family with grandparents, uncles, cousins, father, and male children all
named John can be daunting.
Extend this same practice to other unrelated families with the same
family name and you have an indication of the problem of keeping
individuals with identical names properly identified. Families
tended to remained close to their ancestral homes before the
Reformation, or the community of their employment, i.e. church,
university, abbey, or cathedral.
People began to move about the country during
the reign of Henry VIII . This only contributed to the uncertainty of
distinguishing between different local individuals, and traveling musicians.
Individuals attached to or employed by established communities or institutions such as
the Church generally fare better in identification from an institutional paper trail.
The difference between a John Brown, John Browne, or a Jonathan Browne
may simply be a matter of inconsistent or just the poor spelling practices
of the period. It may be impossible to resolve such issues without more
research. Individuals before 1550 usually lacked any standard documentation
to establish a proper "modern" form of a name. Public and church records
where they did exist were often lacking in details or were of poor quality.
The editors of EEM have attempted to arrange individuals within each
of the seven sections based on birth dates when known.
specific birth dates or approximate dates have been arranged at
of the editors. Lacking complete information the placement of
within a specific division can be only approximate at best based
on current available information. These individuals may be relocated,
or updated as more complete
information becomes available to the editors.
Individuals will be placed and referenced within that specific section
based on a birth date. Their actual productive years may overlap into an
adjacent time periods. Those individuals with relatively long
live spans may overlap more than a single historical period.
The English Late Baroque section ends its general coverage with
1714, the beginning of the reign of King George I of Hanover. Those musicians
born after 1714 should be consulted in other sources. There may be a
certain amount of overlap with a few of the older musicians still active after 1714.
Supplemental materials may accompany some individuals in EEM. These have
been included to enhance the research interests of those seeking more
scholarly needs. These might include: 1) Works; 2) Collections; 3) Discography;
4) Reference. The inclusion and selection of these materials is solely
at the discretion of the editors, and is not intended as a endorsement
by ExLibris.org of any musical group, publisher, organization, or vendor.
The Works sections refer to selected musical compositions of the musicians working period including
works that might now be considered lost. The Collections section are for modern editions of
printed works. A Discography section may accompany some composers. The selection
and inclusion of specific musical recordings is based totally on personal
bias of the editors.
There are a number of music list servers available on the Internet
for those looking for music discussion groups covering these
including musical recordings. There are some commercial music
sites included in the Other Sites of Interest (Links) section on the
Home Page that some might find of interest.
In 2003, EEM began to add selected Reference titles to a few of the major musicians
to assist readers in beginning their own research. These may include but
not be limited to primary resources such as: biography, bibliography,
history or criticism. Some of these references may be duplicated in the
Select Bibliography section of EEM. Most of these titles should be available
via Interlibrary Loan from your local public library system, or larger college or university library.
Research data can and may often vary between editions of standard
sources. EEM has attempted to provide creditable and reliable
its readers based on available resources. The editors have
consulted many different resources for this database. Access to new
research techniques, and access to previous unavailable collections has
led to many new publications since the late 1980's. For those seeking
more in depth
research and analysis especially in musicology, please consult
publications in the field. The latest editions of such standard
works as Grove's Dictionary, or M.G.G., are authoritative, but do not
always reflect the latest cutting research.
EEM has compiled a selected listing of related online electronic
and web sites as additional research tools for our readers.
our Other Sites of Interest (Links) for additional research
sources. ExLibris.org does not necessarily endorse the contents or
opinions express on those web site beyond our control. EEM makes these
available for addition research venues. EEM may add or delete Links at
the discretion of the editors.
The Select Bibliography has been compiled from many differences sources
over time. Items are added based of the scope of EEM, and data presented
on EEM. A wide selection of journals, new monographs, and dissertations
are referenced on a regular basis.
The Introduction, the Select Bibliography, the Links Page are both accessible from
the EEM Home Page. Three small squares just above the Title.
Please remember to consider every source when doing any research whether in print or online. Consult other independent sources to cross reference your data. "Garbage In" and "Garbage Out" still holds true even today.
There can be honest historical disagreement with the interpretation of various sources and data. New data can resolve issues, or create new questions even between the experts. History is still not a science, and new data can only helps to fuel of fires of more research.
EEM uses a number of standard reference works to check our data.
Dates, and the spelling of names are being verified or updated on a
regular basis. Individuals found outside the standard resources often
require additional research, and these often become limited entries.
EEM will attempt to present a reliable and as up-to-date resource that it can provide within the scope of its resources. EEM in the end is just another resource to be considered, and updated. No single research source can be kept completely up-to-date or totally comprehensive in scope. The new computer databases are a step in that direction. Knowledge is not static, scholars continue to publish new
information and viewpoints. Standard reference works such as Grove's
Dictionary and MGG still publish new editions of their multi-volume
reference works on a regular basis.
Guidelines for the use of dates
Early English Musick (EEM) is a biographical dictionary with a heavy emphasis on dates and their display in the database. The following is a brief overview of the usage practice:
Complete dates: 1566-1623, 1692-1713, etc.
Uncertain dates are enclosed: 1566-162(3), 169(2)-171(3)
Unknown or open ended dates: 156u-162(3), 16uu-171u
Certain abbreviations are also used:
Born: b. ; Died: d. ; Flourished: fl. ; Circa: ca. ; Uncertain: ?
Terminology and Vocabulary
The following is a brief listing of some of the more common terms referred to in EEM with a short definition. We hope that this may be of assistance toour readers who may be unfamiliar with the usage of these terms during this period.
Almoner: (Lat. Eleemosynarius) An ancient religious office that
managed and distributed alms, generally money to the poor. They were attached
to religious houses, or a cathedral. May be held by a laymen, or an individual
in Holy Orders. It was an important position.
Chapel Royal may defined as:
(1): a chapel located in a Royal Palace where the religious services of the Church of England were held for the members of the royal family, and the members of the Court who attended upon the Crown
(2): A company of individuals designed to provide religious services
for the monarch. The concept began under Edward I and Edward II in the
13th Century similar to the then current Papal Chapel.
The Chapel Royal complement consisted of three basic sections: (1) clergy;
(2)the older male voices; (3) and the boy choristers, ages 5-17 years. (4) The Choral Master, and the Organists which might be held by the same individual, their assistants, or not. (5) the organization also had its own internal staff positions. The size of the grope might vary over time. By 1450
clergy performed the liturgy while the men and boy's choir performed the music
for the service. The early singing men were usually churchmen, or priest
choral vicars. Later generations gradually ran more to lay clerks.
The size and composition of the company would change its size over time. Membership was by Royal appointment. Members were generally considered the best available in Britain to serve at Court.
The Gentlemen lay clerks, or singing men were generally appointed for
life,appointments might be surrendered under certain circumstances.
Elderly members could be pensioned off. Membership included various benefits, and privileges, and were highly prized positions in society. Some individuals became quite wealthy on their gifts. and the benefits they received from the Crown. Appointments might sometimes handed down from father to son.
Specific musical families were often well represented over certain periods.
There were certain appointed administrative functions and offices held by and performed by the Gentlemen lay clerks. The Chapel Royal travelled with King Charles I during his early years. The period during 1649-1660 saw the Chapel Royal closed for the duration.
The Chapel Royal increased in stature and size under the Tudors. Elizabeth
I created a new center for liturgical music. The early Stuart's continued this tradition. Charles II re-established the Chapel Royal to its former eminence after the Restoration (1660). There was a general decline of stature of the Chapel Royal at Court under William and Mary.
Cathedrals of the New Foundation: Five ancient monastic
institutions were converted to cathedral status with new charters
under Henry VIII. Four former ancient monastic institutions were
converted to cathedral status after 1836. Their new charters reflected a
new set of standards from the Old Foundation cathedrals.
Cathedrals of the Old Foundation: Seventeen pre-existing
ancient institutions maintained their original charters after Henry
VIII. Nine were secular and eight were monastic, preeminent among these
were Lincoln, Salisbury, and York.
Children of the Chappelle: A generic designation for the young
male choristers usually from 5-17 years of age that attend on the Chapel Royal, or similar generic organizations to perform choral functions.
The child choristers grouping formed part of the "traditional" English men and
boys choirs which developed after 1450. The boy choristers for the Chapel Royal were
selected from across the realm as the "Best of the Best"for their singing talents and other attributes. Choristers recruitment was considered at great honour which often led to other opportunities by benefit of their early service, and association to the Court.
Young choristers even at the Court were lodged and boarded in a private school atmosphere, and usually given a first class education for the period, which might included reading and writing in Latin and Greek, the study of the Liturgy, and musical training. Boys attended as young as five years
until their voices changed about seventeen years of age when they were retired. Those who were discharged might often continue to received benefits from the Crown. Some might be sent to Oxford, Cambridge or other institutions to receive additional higher education. Some would often find a position within the Chapel Royal organization . Positions were
generally found for them as adults either at Court or at some other institutions. Many
famous composers and musicians received their early training as a boy choristerof the
Chapel Royal, or similar institutions.
In addition to the Chapel Royal, other religious institution of the day such as cathedrals maintained similar educational arrangements for training its own choirboys. The Chapel Royal was empowered to raided these other institutions for the best boy singers in the kingdom.
Choirboy: A young male child generally from 5-17 years of age
(or until their voice changed and were discharged). They were
selected by various institution including: cathedrals, collegiate churches, parish churches and certain foundations for their singing abilities. The English men and boys choir tradition dates from the
1450's. Child choristers received a good education which included
musicians training as part of their institutional training. Many child
choristers often developed long term relationships with their former institutions.
Clavichord: A member of the harpsichord family. Tone produced by a metal tangent striking the strings. Known primarily as a solo instruments for small rooms.
Clerk: A secular layman who might perform various duties in a cathedral, community, church,etc. They were often responsible for the musical functions within their institution.
Clerk of the Cheque: An administrative officer within the Chapel Royal responsible for over seeing the payment of salaries.
Conduct: A term designating a freelance or part-time musician such as a singing man to a local parish church, or institution.
Confraternity [Fraternity] of St Nicholas: The ancient Guild of the Parish Clerks of the City of London musicians, and other prominent musicians of importance.
Cornetts: A family of wind instruments with cup-shaped mouthpieces made of ivory or wood (16th century).
Crwth (Crowd): A rectangular shaped instrument of six strings dating from the 11th-13th century of Celtic origin.
Deputy: A individual designated as a paid assistant or
surrogate for an officer of the institution. The official organists
might hold multiple offices in multiple institutions at the same time
with management approval and their understanding that their assigned
duties could be assigned to a "deputy" under his personal charge.
Extraordinary: A general title or designation held by an individual
holding an indefinite position without salary or benefits in anticipation of receiving a full-time paid position. Sometimes referred to as an unpaid apprentice. See also "Gentleman Extra-ordinary".
Field of the Cloth of Gold: During 1520, both Henry VIII of
England and Francis I of France meet on a field near Calais, France to
negotiate a possible alliance. Both parties brought large retinues
including their own Chapel Royal the event was known for its splendor
Gentleman Extraordinary: An honorary appointment or title
bestowed on an individual attached to the Chapel Royal. These individuals did not receive
any regular salaries or benefits, but occupied what we might call "temporary assignments". These individuals were waiting to receive a permanent appointment as a "Gentleman". Some individuals might be placed on a "waiting list" to fill the next available appointment, or vacancy. Some individuals might wait long periods hoping to secure a permanent position, if any.
Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal: A company of adult male menattached to the Chapel Royal as musicians and singing men. The earliest members tended to be church musicians, i.e. priest choral-vicars. Over time secular lay-clerks came to replace the church musicians. Only the
best male musicians of the realm were selected. Membership was by Royal appointment usually for life, when a member died a new members was sworn in to replace that position. Membership bestowed many benefits and special privileges including pensions and were highly sought positions. Some families had long histories of continuous association with the Chapel Royal. Many child choristers of the
Chapel Royal would become future Gentlemen. About 1450, the all male choir was augmented with a number of child choristers to sing polyphony.
Groom of the Privy Chamber: An honorary position at Court sometimes held by a musician. The Groom(s) had access to the monarch and the Royal family in their private rooms. In this
capacity they might provide access to others. They became very influential individuals at Court.
Groom of the Vestry (Chapel Royal): An administrative position in the Chapel Royal usually filled by one of the Gentlemen lay clerks.
Harpsichord (Cembalo): Member of a family of keyboard instruments including the clavichord, clavecin, and the smaller virginal and spinet with plucked strings. Often make with more than a single keyboard with stops which controlled its tone. Used for both solo and ensemble playing. Popular with the women at Court from from Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth was known for her skills at the keyboard.
Informator: That office which performs the functions of a music instructor or a music scholar in a religious Community. Duties may include instruction in music, singing, or playing instruments. Some additional duties might even include duties of the Instructor of the Choristers (Informatorum choristorum), or as the local organist. Choral-Vicars or even lay clerks may perform these same functions in some religious communities. A designation of common usage before 1550.
Informatorum choristorum See: Instructor of the Choristers
Instructor of the Choristers ("Informatorum choristorum"):
A member of a religious community that performed the office of the
Informator as Schoolmaster, or Teacher of the choir. In some religious
communities there was a requirement to play the organ for this position.
By 1550 this office began to fall into disuse with the rise of the
organist and the increased use of polyphony in liturgical music. This is
not the same office referred to as the Master of the Choristers in the
New Foundation cathedrals.
Lady Chapel: A special chapel in the newer larger monasteries and cathedral priories which were set aside for special religious services dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). A generic term applied to any chapel devoted to the B.V.M. Developed from the religious influences of the Crusades. New Latin Sacred music develped to supply new forms of music as the Cult of the B.V.M grew.
Lay clerks: A secular musician employed, or trained in certain religious
communities to perform certain functions, or duties duties as surrogates for the congregation, or to assist including to sing or say the responses as the leader or representative of the laity during Mass or the
Lay Vicar: A non-clergy male employed to sing those parts of the Office which might be otherwise sung by laymen or clergy in minor orders.
Lute: A family of plucked stringed instrument with a pear shaped wooden body related to the guitar family. A popular instrument from the Medieval period to the early 18th century. Often associated with the music compositions called the Madrigal.
Madrigal: A 16th century musical form of secular song set to verse. English secular or part songs developed from earlier Italian influences about 1550 using English literary sources. John Dowland was a master player, and composer on the instrument
Masque (Mask): A courtly entertainment performed on special occasions at Court. It combined dramatic scenes with dancing, songs, speech and music. Members of the Court might actually participate in the performance.The form was developed during the reigns of King James I and King Charles I.
Master of the Choristers ("magister choristarum"): A
new office replacing the older office of "Informatorum choristarum". The
term came to into general usage during the 1530's with the rise of
polyphony and the English Latin Mass. It was applied to an individual of
a cathedral or other religious charged with the supervision of the new
"mixed" choir of adult and child choristers. The duties of the Master
of the Choristers were set by local charters statutes. Old and New
Foundation cathedrals had different duties for the Master of the
The actual functions might be performed by secular or religious
members of the institution. During the Reformation the use of the organ
became more important in Latin church services, some institutions might
combined the function of the organist with the Master of the Choristers,
and others institutions might kept them separated.
Master of the Children:The Master of the Choristers was
usually charged with the supervision, exhibition and musical instruction of the boy choristers. The
actual training of choristers might be assigned to a subordinate. The office was common to cathedrals, abbeys, and collegiate churches, etc. The term "Master of Songe" of the Chapel Royal carried the same duties.
Master of the King's Musick: The leader of the King's Private Band a position created under King Charles I. Under King Charles II they were the leader of the King's string orchestra. An influential position at Court.
Minstrels/Mynstrelles/ Ménestrels: A designation for a type of musician/performer dating from the tenth century. They sang, played and danced to popular music of the day. A common designation for musicians at the early Court of King Henry VIII. Minstrels at Court gradually were replaced by the new the professionally trained class of known as Musician in Ordinary.
Musician in Ordinary: The new basic class of musician in service to the Royal Household under later King Henry VIII. A new standard of musicianship which gradually replaced the older minstrel class at Court. Duties might include music at Court, dinner music, and musical concerts.
A select group of musicians were permitted to provide music in the Privy Chambers, i.e. private chambers of the Royal Household usually on soft instruments. Most musicians were instrumentalists. Some were required to perform on different instruments, and some were also required to sing such as the madrigalist.
Some musicians were members of certain groups or ensembles of instruments. The types and compositions of these groups at Court changed with the musical styles from the early Tudors to the Stuart period. Under the early Stuart's it was not uncommon to have a private religious Chapels, i.e. Roman Catholic, for specific individuals such as the Queen with their own separate musicians and organization.
Some musicians might perform additional duties at Court. Members of the Royal family especially the children were given musical instruction and training including instruments, singing and dance. Both Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I enjoyed dancing and prized the ability to dance as a primary social grace
As employees of the Crown, musicians also enjoyed certain legal privileges and benefits restricted to them. Some of the early musicians became wealthy from Royal grants and gifts. Certain families had long continuous histories of service at Court spanning many generations. The Royal Household was a different form of musical service from the Chapel Royal with its sacred choral and religious services.
Plainsong (plain-song): The primary form of early Western Latin liturgical music during the Middle Ages, also known as Gregorian Chant was based on the eight modal melodies. The form was gradually replaced with a new Latin polyphony at the time of the Reformation.
Polyphony: A musical form based on harmony which developed
before the 13th century probably from early folk music sources. Liturgical
polyphony developed from three individual voice format which could be
doubled during the 14th century performed by trained musicians. The use
of four-part harmony.
Precentor: An early terminology, a member of a religious community. He was responsible for certain musical duties within their community. Some of his primary functions might include to teach, and drill the young choristers in music, to manage the music library, and to tune the organ.
Priest-vicar: A church musician in religious orders generally attached
to a cathedral. Also known as a Vicar-choral. Same cathedrals might include a College of Vicar Chorals as part of the religious community.
Privy Chamber: The non-public or private apartments/chambers of the Royal family. The chambers were heavily guarded, and very restricted to the wealthy, and powerful.A select group of royal musicians were granted the privilege to perform for the private benefit of the royal family usually on stringed or soft woodwind instruments. Lute players might be required often to sing. These were very prized positions to hold with particular benefits attending from them.
Rebec: An pear shaped slender string instrument of the violin family, sometimes called a fiddle. A bowed instrument popular from the 13th to 16th century. A favorite ensemble at Court under King Henry VIII.
Sackbut (Serpent): Bass wind instrument fashioned in the shape of a serpent played with a cup-shaped mouthpiece (16th century) , an ancestor of the modern trombone. A favorite ensemble at the Court under King Henry VIII.
Shawn: A family of double reed wind instruments known for their buzzing raspy tone (16th century).
Singingmen/Singing men: A somewhat generic term applied to lay
or religious male musicians performing singing duties at a religious
institution, or church. They were more likely to be secular rather than
religious after 1550. Singingmen attached to a local parish church were often
freelance or part-time and were also known as Conducts. Gentlemen of the
Chapel Royal were often listed as singingmen for St. Paul's Cathedral or
Theater Suite:A standard musical format developed after 1660
for the musical theater in four acts. The basic format was music before
the play as First Musick and Second Musick, and music during the play
itself as four Curtain tunes, and later an Overture. Additional music
could be added for songs or dance segways. After 1690, larger musical
forms expanded on the original scope of the earlier format.
Vicar: A associate priest often doing duties for of the local parish rector.
Vicar-Choral: A generic term used to describe a certain class
of musician attached to a religious community. The designation would
vary with the institution. They may be either priest-vicars (religious), or lay-vicars (secular). A
member of an endowed corporation with a freehold in the institution,
rather than as a paid employee of the same. Some cathedrals, i.e. Wells
may have a separate College of Choral-Vicars attached to the cathedral to provide an
established community of singing men for its choral services. Duties of vicar-chorals were varied based on local statues of the institution. Qualified choral-vicars could act as a
Master of Choristers, organists, informator, schoolmaster, or any number of jobs. Old Foundation cathedrals often continued the practice of using priest-vicars.
Vielle: An early string instrument of the violin family played with a bow, and popular from the 13th-15th centuries. Also called a fiddle.
Viola de Gamba (Viols): A family of fretted bowed string instruments that were played on the leg or between the legs. Popular during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, they were softer precursors to the violin family which replaced them.
Virginal: A stringed keyboard instrument of the harpsichord family developed about 1510. A popular musical instrument for secular English musical composition of the 16th and 17th century. Smaller in size than the harpsichord with a softer sound.
Wait (Wayte): from the Anglo-Saxon word wacian to watch
or guard. (1) A Medieval term used initially to designate a city
night watchmen, a city guard or city gate keepers. May Medieval cities still have ancient fortified gates to regulate the flow of people and goods in, and out. By the mid-thirteenth century the term was
being applied to a form of city watchman in the old walled cities often with some additional musical duties. Gradually over time these groups began to function more often as a quasi-musical group than watchman. The City waits appeared in London by decree of King Henry III in 1253. Over time these
small early musical became the basis of an official city band. (2): An early
reed instrument similar to a shawn.
Yeoman of the Vestry (Chapel Royal): An administrative position in the Chapel Royal usually filled by one of the Gentlemen, or a lay clerks, or as a potential position for a select former Child chorister after their voice changed. Often used as an entry point for some later more senior appointments within the Chapel Royal.
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