CD A0153: Notes of Noy, Notes of Joy

Notes of Noy, Notes of Joy
The Rowallan Consort

CD Cover: The Quiet Tradition by Alison Kinnaird and Christine PrimroseThis venture into Scottish early music is a first for Temple Records - the label known mainly for its emphasis on traditional Scottish music. It is also the recording debut for The Rowallan Consort. Formed in 1994 by Robert Phillips and William Taylor, they uniquely combine the sound of the lute and the wire-strung harp (clarsach) to beautiful effect. With guest singers Mhairi Lawson and Paul Rendall, they have researched and perform songs and music dating from 1400-1700.

JOHN RETCHER, EARLY SOCIETY OF VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA - The playing is masterly throughout and captures the spirit of both the joyful and the sad music.

ROB ADAM, GLASGOW HERALD - What a find. In magical combinations, the lute and harp-playing by Robert Phillips and William Taylor produce the most ravishing, resonant sound. A must for folk as well as classical fans, and anyone remotely interested in Scottish culture.

Buy this album now    CD: £11.50 + p&p   

Artist profile & catalogue of works - Bill Taylor

Track Listing & Audio Samples

A - G refer to CD notes

1. Come my Children, dere
2. Joy to the personne of my love

3. Canaries
4. A Port
5. A Daunces: Grein Greus ye Rasses
6. I long for thy virginitie (lute solo)
7. I long for thy virginitie (clarsach solo)
8. The Canaries

9. Defiled is my name (Robert Johnson)
10. In Nominie
11. Com palefaced death

12. The Lady Louthian's Life
13. Ladie Laudian's Life
14. My Ladie Laudian's Lilt

15. Lyk as the lark
16. Lyke as the dumb solsequium
17. Depairte, depairte
18. For lov of one

19. Ane Exempil of Tripla
20. Ane lessone upon the first psalme
21. Ane lessone upon the secund psalme

22. Gypsies Lilt
23. Corne yairds
24. (A Scots Tune)


CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

The Rowallan Consort
'Notes of Noy; Notes of Joy'
Early Scottish Music for Lute, Clarsach & Voice

'Harpe and fethill both they fande,
Getterne and als so the swatrye;
Lutte, and rybybe, both gangande,
And all manner of mynstralsye.'
                                      Thomas of Ercyldune(1219-99)

' heare the sweet and delicate voice
of cunning singers, intermedled with
the melodious sound of lutes, cirters,
clairshoes,or other quiet instruments of that kind.'
                                       Alexander Hume (1556-1609)

These two quotations tell us much about the lute and clarsach in Scotland. Firstly, and to some most surprisingly, the lute has been known in Scotland since the 13th century. Whether arriving via returned crusaders or visiting continental noblemen, it was instantly accepted and became an integral part of the Scottish chamber ensemble for a further 400 years. Secondly, when the lute is mentioned, the harp or clarsach is never far away.

From the household accounts of the Lord High Treasurers of Scotland we find the following, typical of many such accounts documenting payments to Musicians:

1507. Jan 1. item, that day giffen to divers minstrales schawmeris, trumpetis taubroneris, fitheralis, luteris, harparis, clarsacharis, piparis, extending to lxix

Here we should note the distinction between 'harparis' and 'clarcharis'. Too often in our own time the one implies the other. In 1507 the harp referred to was probably the Lowland gut-strung harp; the clarsach was used in the Highlands and Ireland and was strung with brass wire. They were clearly two different instruments, and were played with two different techniques, the gut strings being played with finger pads and finger nails being required to pluck the brass strings. However, they obviously existed side by side, and with the lute and 'other quiet instruments of that kind', joined in a mixed consort of the type described by Gawain Douglass (d. 1522) in the 'Palace of Honour' as a sound of 'soft releschingis in dulce deliverning'.

Early Scottish music cannot be classified in terms of simply 'classical' or 'folk' music. In past times, music in Scotland fell into three categories-'notes of noy'(sadness); 'notes of joy'; and 'sleep music'. Lutaris and clarsaris would have been familiar with all three. The music recorded here is a cross section of many such instances that involved the lute and clarsach. The lute manuscripts are the obvious starting point. The complete Scottish lute repertoire runs to some 400 pieces. Many are settings of clarsach, fiddle or pipe tunes popular all over Scotland on the 16th and 17th centuries and contain the earliest settings of such classic airs as 'Grein Greus ye Rasses' and 'The Flowers of the Forrest'. The Golden Age of the lute in Scotland, however, had all but vanished by this time, and, sadly, because of the Reformation and a self-exiled Court, almost nothing survives it. But by looking at musical performance practice in other European courts at this time, especially the French, with whom Scotland shared an 'auld alliance', one can get a picture of what might have taken place.

Robert Phillips
William Taylor

Music Notes

(A) Two songs
To open this recording we have two of the most popular Scottish songs of the early 17th century.

(B) Five pieces from the Straloch lute manuscript (1627-29)
This selection begins and ends with a popular Spanish dance from the Canary Islands, although it must be said that these 'canaries' have a distinctly Scottish plume! The solo clarsach version of  'I long for thy 'virginitie' is an arrangement from the Skene manuscript of c.1630.'A Port' is a musical form peculiar to Scotland, found mainly in the repertoire of clarsairs. The 'Daunce: Green Greus ye Rasses' appears in its earliest known form.

(C) Three pieces by Robert Johnson (c.1500-c.1560)
One of Scotland's finest renaissance musicians, Robert Johnson fled the early reforming zealots in Scotland to be given employment in the English court of Henry VIII. 'Defiled is my name' is a poem written, as legend tells us, by Anne Boleyn on the night before her execution. 

(D) The Lady Louthian's Lilte
Three different versions of the tune, as found in Robert Edwards 'Commonplace Book (c.1630-65), the straloch lute manuscript and the Skene mandour manuscript, arranged for solo clarsach. Although appearing with variant spellings in the different manuscripts ('Louthian' and Laudian'). William Dauny suggests that the tune was in honour of Lady Lothian, spouse of Mark Kerr, Commendator of Newbattle, who was created Earl of Lothian in 1606, and died in 1609.

(E) Four songs from the Wode part-books
Although written as four-part vocal pieces, Scottish lutars would have followed the fashion of their continental counterparts and arranged or 'intabulated' three of the four parts into a lute accompaniment to the one remaining voice, in this instance the soprano. Often these songs betray a French influence, possibly originating there and being newly set to original Scottish poems.

(F) Three instrumental pieces
Although written in a mainstream European style, these pieces nonetheless display Scottish traits. Melodic leaps, distinctive rhythm and unusual phrase lengths all speak of a uniquely developed culture.

(G) Three Scottish lute pieces
The first two are from the Rowallan lute book (c.1612-28) providing the inspiration behind the name 'The Rowallan Consort'. 'Gypsies Lilt' is a very unusual work, centred around a weird and highly emotional chord. If there is one piece that separates Scottish lute music from all other English and continental lute music then this is it. 'Come Yards' is an improvisation upon the 'double tonic' chord progression, again typically Scottish. The third, untitled, piece is found in an English manuscript originally belonging to a lutenist of James I of England (as the coat-of-arms on the cover describes him). Obviously in 1603 by a Scottish lutar to the king.

(A) Elliot/Shire(eds), Music of Scotland.1500-1700; Musica Britannica, vol.,XV, Stainer and Bell, London,1975.
(B) Straloch MS, 1627-29, NLS Adv.5,2,18; Skene MS, c.1680,NLS Adv.5.2.12.
(C) As for (A).
(D) Robert Edwards Commonplace Book, 1630-65, NLS Pan11; Straloch lute manuscript; Skene mandour book.
(E) Wode part-books, 1562-1615, Edinburgh University Library.
(F) As for (A)
(G) Rowallan lute manuscript, 1612-28, Edinburgh University Library, Laing III. 487; Jane Pickering lute book, c. 1616, facsimile pub. Boethius Press.


Instruments Used
Clarsachs: 'Downhill' by Guy Flockhart, at Robert Evans' workshop, Cardiff, 1994; 'lamond' by Jay Witcher, Houlton, Maine, 1990.
Lutes: 8c by martin bowers, 1983; 10c by Lawrence Brown,1989.

This recording is dedicated to Zan, Alex, Anna and Neil.

Music and Songs Arr by Robert Phillips and William Taylor-Published by Kinmore Music
Recorded and Produced by Robin Morton at Temple Record Studios, Scotland.
Graphics by Graham Ogilvie, Edinburgh.

Photos by Stagefright Photography and Hanya Chlala.


Album Information

Instruments:      Harp,Lute and Voice
Genre: Scottish Early Music
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0153
Label: Temple Records
Year: 1990
Origin: EU

The Rowallan Consort

The Rowallan Consort - Early Scottish Music for Lute, Clarsach and Voice

The Rowallan Consort was formed in 1994 by Robert Phillips and William Taylor to explore early Scottish music for lute and clarsach. This debut recording presents, for the first time on record, the exquisitely combined sound of the wire-strung Highland clarsach with the lute, in a rich and varied programme, including popular tunes and songs from the 16th century, as well as instrumental pieces and court songs by some of the greatest masters of the Scottish Renaissance.

'Notes of Noy (sadness); Notes of Joy' refers to two of the ancient divisions of Scottish music.  

Photograph of Robert Philips and William TaylorRobert Philips is recognised as Scotland’s foremost lutar and is in demand by many ensembles. Specialising in the Scottish lute repertoire, he has performed the fruits of his research on radio and in concert throughout Scotland. Determined to revitalise the Scottish lute, he has initiated a lute course at Napier University in Edinburgh and gives workshops and performance lectures in schools and colleges. To this end, he has published "Music for the Lute in Scotland" (Kinmore Music) which includes pieces in tablature and transcription, along with an essay on the history of the lute in Scotland.

William Taylor is a specialist in the performance of historical Irish, Scottish and Welsh harp music. He was awarded the title of 'US National Clarsach Champion' in 1992, and is one of the very few players to use exclusively fingernail technique on small historical harps. He is a member of the Highland vocal and early instruments ensembles Musick Fyne and Coronach, and also performs with the Cardiff-based trio Lyrae Cambrenses. He is frequently invited to both teach and perform within the UK, and Europe.

Photograph of Mhairi LawsonRobert & William are joined for this recording by two young Scottish singers of growing international stature - Mhairi Lawson and Paul Rendall. Recent TV and radio broadcasts have brought Mhairi Lawson to the fore, along with concerts in Europe, the USA and Canada. A recent recording of Haydn songs with Russian fortepianist Olga Tverskaya has been released on Opus III.

Photograph of Paul RendallPaul Rendall, a native Orcadian, performs regularly with the Scottish vocal group Capella Nova, and in many other ensembles both on Scotland and abroad. He has studied early vocal technique with James Bowman, the King's Consort and Catherine Mackintosh.

For further information regarding The Rowallan Consort write to The White House, Inveresk, Midlothian EH21 7TG.