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Come play music written by kings and clowns, Ladies and lawyers, dance masters, doctors, and troubadours. Welcome to the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Creativity flourished throughout the times that produced writers, artists, and scientists such as Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Galileo.

That inventiveness is evident in the imaginative and eloquent music in this collection. Among the melodies are a Portuguese troubadour’s “Song for a Friend” written almost 800 years ago, John Dowland’s “Midnight”, silenced from the mid-1600's until the discovery of Margaret Board’s Lute Book in 1970, and a beautiful and haunting song written by a Scottish Lady.

The accompanying CD is a recording of all of the tunes in the same order in which they appear in the book. Allan Alexander artfully renders the chords on guitar, providing a harmonic tapestry over which the melodies float. Every piece in the book can be played by flute alone; we chose to record most of them with guitar in order to provide a chordal background for flutists who have no access to chord instruments, and to create an enjoyable CD. The CD which comes with the book has all 44 of the tunes in the same order in which they appear in the book. The CD will give you insights into the music, and it will be enjoyable to listen to on its own merit. For additional information, be sure to check out my web site at or Allan's and mine at

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""Medieval and Renaissance Music for Flute" contains 41 pieces

  1. Corne Yards – Anonymous • Scottish, from the Rowallan Lute Book, c. 1615. Also called "Corn gairds". Sir William Mure of Rowallan was a poet as well as compiler of music anthologies, and parts of the Rowallan Lute Book may have been compiled by the lutenists Anna and Mary Hay.

  2. The Dream of Arren – Jessica Walsh • This sounds a bit like some of the Medieval songs. We've all heard of a "call to arms". This is a "call to dreams".

  3. Branle and Branle Gay – Giovanni Battista Besardo • The branle was danced by ordinary people in the Renaissance. These two branles appear both in the Chilesotti book and in Besard's own Thesaurus Harmonicus (1603). Besard was a French lutenist, composer, and doctor of law. His name is Italianised to Besardo in Chilesotti's book, from which I got the tunes.

  4. Lamento di Tristano – Anonymous • Medieval Italian estampie. The tragic story of Tristan and Isolde goes back well over a thousand years and has inspired a lot of music over the centuries. Welsh troubadours first embellished the tale; perhaps they created it. This melody is traditionally coupled with the following dance, La Rotta.

  5. La Rotta – Anonymous • This Medieval Italian estampie traditionally follows the Lamento di Tristano, serving as a lively variation. The rotta is an ancient stringed instrument. A museum in Berlin houses a rotta which was found in the arms of a knight in a 5th century tomb in the Black Forest.

  6. Italiana – Anonymous • This piece was among many whose original manuscripts (lute tablature) were lost. Fortunately, Oscar Chilesotti, an Italian musicologist, had transcribed this and many others into notation, ensuring their survival. Ottorino Respighi used this melody and many others from Chilesotti's book (including the following Volta and Spagnoletta) in his "Ancient Airs and Dances". They make a very nice suite.

  7. Volta – attributed to Vincenzo Galilei • This piece is also from the Chilesotti Lute Book (see Italiana above). Vincenzo Galilei was a lutenist and composer, and father of the astronomer Galileo Galilei.

  8. Spagnoletta – Anonymous • I got this version of the Spagnoletta from Chilesotti's manuscript. It can be found in many Renaissance manuscripts and has been used as a base for pieces from Renaissance to Modern times, including by Francisco Guerau, by Gaspar Sanz, and by Joachin Rodrigo in his "Fantasia para un Gentilhombre". A "spagnoletta" is an Italian dance originating in Spain.

  9. A Merry Ronde – Allan Alexander • I've loved this tune since I first heard Allan play it, and I'm glad to be able to include it here for flutists to play. Allan wrote it for a friend named Mary. It was written for lute. The syncopation gives it a very merry feel.

  10. Tordion – Anonymous • This "turning" dance was published by Pierre Attaingnant in the early 1500's. In his editions, Attaingnant left the composers and arrangers anonymous. A tordion, according to Arbeau in his Orchesography, "is danced close to the ground to a light, lively beat". I hear this piece as moving between 3/4 and 6/8. If you have the CD, you will hear Allan playing the bass notes which accompany the melody in the lute version. I like the syncopated sound of his 6/8 against the 3/4 of the melody in the first part. A different way to do it if you have a chord instrument player is to have that player move with you through the meter changes, playing in 3/4 when you are, etc. That is how the chords are set.

  11. Christ has Risen – Hans Judenkunig (1445 – 1526) • In the early 1500's, composer and lutenist Judenkunig published the first German manual of lute playing. This is a good tune to ornament. It can be played through "straight" the first time, and varied the second.

  12. Saltarello – Anonymous • This tune comes from 14th century Italy. A Saltarello was a jumping dance (saltare, in Latin, is "to dance"); in Medieval times, the meter and rhythm of these dances were varied.

  13. Carmen Vernale – Morten Børup • This "Song of Spring" was written in Denmark in the 16thcentury.

  14. Fayne Would I Wed – Richard Farnaby • Farnaby was born in England in the 1590's. Four of his pieces are in the Fitzwilliam Virginal book. His father, Giles, was also a composer. And yes, Farnaby did wed after all.

  15. Will You Walk the Woods so Wild – Anonymous • This tune was popular in Renaissance England; its most famous setting was by William Byrd for keyboard and included 12 variations. Francis Cutting used Byrd's variations when he transcribed the tune for lute. I am including only the original tune in this book, hoping that you will write your own variations. Perhaps yours will inspire a verse, as did Byrd's: "How daintily this Byrd his notes doth vary, As if he were the Nightingale's own brother!" (Anonymous, 1612).

  16. Royal Estampie #2 – Anonymous • This French dance dates from the 13th century. An Estampie, or Istampita, is an instrumental form consisting of repeated sections with different endings. These tunes were probably accompanied by a drone in Medieval times, so if you can find someone who can play (and hold) even one note, you can try it.

  17. Shall I Come Sweet Love to Thee? – Thomas Campion • Campion was trained in law and medicine as well as music. This piece is from his first "Book of Ayres". He also wrote the words, which begin hopefully enough: "Shall I come sweet love to thee, When the evening beams are set?" but end: "Do not mock me in thy bed, While these cold, cold nights, While these cold nights freeze me dead."

  18. Ungaresca – Giorgio Mainerio • This is a Hungarian-style dance. Mainerio, a clergyman and dance master from Parma, published his "Il Primo Libro de Balli" (First Book of Dances) in Venice in 1578. Often in Renaissance times the clergy were versed in dance. The Renaissance woodcut beneath the tune is of a Hungarian cavalryman.

  19. Sellenger's Round – Anonymous • This melody was popular in 17th century England and can be found in many manuscripts. Also known as "The Beginning of the World," it was used as a setting for ballads. "Round" refers not to a canon but to a dance done in a circle.

  20. Haulberroys – Anonymous • Published by Pierre Attaingnant (1494 – 1551). Attaingnant, a French music printer, published over fifty anthologies of French music as well as several collections of dances.

  21. My Lady Hunsdon's Allmande – John Dowland • Allmande, meaning "German", came in various spellings in the Renaissance: Alman, Almain, Allemande... this tune is sometimes called "My Lady Hunsdon's Puff". Dowland – composer, lutenist, and singer – was born in 1563. He graduated from Oxford in 1588. As lutenist to the King of Denmark, he was reputedly a drinker and often in need of a salary advance.

  22. Mr. Dowland's Midnight – John Dowland • The only source for this piece, which can also be called, simply, "Midnight", is Margaret Board's Lute Book. Completed some time in the 1620's, her manuscript was lost until 1970. Now John Dowland's "Midnight" can be heard again after its 350-year silence.

  23. One Yeir Begins Ane Other Ends – Lady Anne Ker • Both words and music were written by this Scottish Lady in the late 1600's. It is an evocative tune and sounds right on any sort of flute. "One year begins, another ends. Our time doth pass and go. All thus to our instruction tends if we could take it so. The summer's heat, the winter's cold, whose seasons let us see. When youth is gone and we wax old, like flowers we fade and die."

  24. Packington's Pound – Anonymous • Some say that this was the most popular tune in the Renaissance. It was included in Margaret Board's Lute Book, the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, and many other manuscripts. The Mynshall Lute Book titles it "Packintons Compound", noting that Sir John Packington had made a compound that he could swim from Westminster to London Bridge. I wonder about the original words, if any; "Pound" does rhyme with "drowned"... The last 3 lines of this arrangement are "Bockington's Pound", taken from William Barley's Tablature Book and attributed to Francis Cutting.

  25. The Market Truants – Jessica Walsh • I discovered to my delight that this tune can be played on a four-hole (English system) ocarina with little modification. An ocarina can be hung on a cord about the neck and played while dodging one's chores! If you want to order an ocarina, you can contact the creative people at Clayzeness Whistleworks (

  26. Voulez-vous que Je Vous Chant – Anonymous • French, 13th C. 'Voulez-vous que je vous chant, Un son d'amours avenant?' This is a love song of the Medieval Trouvères. This version is slightly embellished on the repeat.

  27. The English Hunts Up – John Whitfield • This tune was used to rouse huntsmen for the morning hunt. The term "huntsup" is also used to describe an uproarious disturbance. Jane Pickering's Lute Book (1616) included this tune, spelled "English Huntsuppe".

  28. Allemande – Johann Hermann Schein • Born in 1586 in Germany, Schein was a choirmaster. This piece is from his "Banchetto Musicale", published in 1617. An allemande is a simple, sedate dance. This version is slightly ornamented on the repeat.

  29. Bobbing Joe – Anonymous • "Honest" John Playford first published his "English Dancing Master" in 1651. It is a collection of dance melodies for violin, mostly short, and all unharmonized. This is one of many great old tunes that Playford published. It is still a popular song in parts of England.

  30. Bianco Fiore – Cesare Negri • This Italian dance, sweetly titled "White Flower", was first published in Negri's "Le Gratie D'Amore" of 1602. Negri, known as "The Trombone", was a famous dancing master and author of 3 dance manuals. Like Bianco Fiore, many of the dances he published feature changes of meter.

  31. Reis Glorios, Dawn Song – Guiraut de Borneill (c.1138 - c.1215) • Reis Glorios means Glorious Kings. A Dawn Song, or Alba, was sung by a nobleman's watchman to waken him in the morning. The composer of this very beautiful song was a Frenchman and a troubadour for Alfonso II of Aragon.

  32. Da Que Deus Mamo (Cantiga 77) – from the Cantigas de Santa Maria • Alfonso X "El Sabio" (1221-1284), king of Castile and Leon, gathered over 400 melodies, set them to words in praise of the Virgin Mary, and published them in a beautiful illuminated book. This piece can be played either slowly or in a lively manner, as mood or occasion suggest.

  33. Whip my Toudie – Anonymous • This tune is from the Straloch Lute Book, compiled in 1627 by Robert Gordon of Straloch. He either didn't know or didn't reveal the composer. I wish he had explained the title!

  34. Bransle Charlotte – Thomas Arbeau • In his "Orchesography" (published in 1588), from which this tune was taken, the French priest, dancing master and author Arbeau wrote, "... dancing is practised to reveal whether lovers are in good health and sound of limb, after which they are permitted to kiss their mistresses in order that they may touch and savour one another, thus to ascertain if they are shapely or emit an unpleasant odour as of bad meat."

  35. Lilt Ladie Ann Gordon – Anonymous • This lovely lilt is from the Straloch Lute Book. It's too bad that we don't have all of Robert Gordon's manuscript but only a partial copy from the 19thcentury. Maybe a complete copy will be found some day and the page-bound melodies brought into the world of sound once more.

  36. Meet me by the Willow – Jessica Walsh • "The joys of meeting pay the pangs of absence; Else who could bear it?" Nicholas Rowe.

  37. Mandad'ey Comigo – Martin Codax • This Portuguese troubadour's manuscript dates from 1230 and contains seven Cantigas de Amigo or "Songs for a Friend". The songs are about lovers separated from each other by the sea. He couldn't have known that over seven centuries later, his cantigas would be sung and played and loved across seven seas.

  38. Almaine – Richard Allison • The composer of this lovely allemande was also a scribe. His solos and duets for lute appear in many of the manuscripts he copied. He was active in the late 1500's.

  39. Chirping of the Nightingale – Anonymous • From Playford's "English Dancing Master", 1651 (see Bobbing Joe above). "It is sweet to dance to violins when Love and Life are fair: To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes is delicate and rare..." Oscar Wilde wrote these words two-and-a-half centuries after Playford's book (intended for violin) came out.

  40. Como o Demo Cofonder (Cantiga 407) – from the Cantigas de Santa Maria • This instrumental piece is not found in every manuscript of the Cantigas, some of which include only 402 cantigas. If you find the cantigas attractive, look for Allan's and my "Ancient Airs, Cantigas, & Dances for Flute and Guitar" or for "World Music for Flute and Guitar"; both include cantigas. I recorded this tune on a six-hole magical blue porcelain flute made by Sandi and Richard Schmidt.

  41. Finale – Albert Dlugoraj • Born in Poland in the late 1550's, Dlugoraj became a lutenist under the patronage of Samuel Zborowski. The aristocrat's cruelty caused Dlugoraj to leave his household and spend a short time as a Franciscan monk. Dlugoraj returned to Zborowski's house once more before being appointed as lutenist to the Polish King. It was then that he revealed letters which lead to Zborowski's execution by the King. Dlugoraj was reportedly a virtuoso player and improvisor, and he wrote over 500 pieces for lute. His trail disappears before he turned 30

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Available with CD

You can purchase the book with a high quality digital compact disc of Jessica Walsh playing all of the pieces in the book.

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