O muse, comt nv voort: Dutch Songs of Love and Freedom 1550-1750 from Aliud Records is an anthology of the Dutch contrafact and contains poetry set to music. The songs are performed by Duo Seraphim featuring Margot Kalse (Mezzo Soprano) and Elly Van Munster (Lute).
These are not original songs, but texts written on already existing and well-known melodies. These songs are sometimes called contrafacts: contra: against or at, factum: written on an already existing melody.
Between 1550 and 1750 this was a much loved and much practiced genre in the Netherlands. Numerous songbooks appeared, booklets in pocket format which could be easily produced from your pocket when you wanted to sing. They contained the texts and the melodies to which they should be sung, with a tune reference: wyse, voys, stemme, vpden, voix, op de wyse van etc.
We must retrace these melodies to be able to sing the songs. Fortunately, some songbooks have survived with the tunes added in musical notation. A great many other melodies can be traced back to the international song repertoire of the period. Other sources are for instance lute tablatures, dance books, etc.
It is remarkable how many tunes originate from outside the Netherlands. Many are French, English, or Italian; fewer are German and Spanish. These must have been popular – or at least known – in the Netherlands, beside the familiar Dutch tunes.
Margot Kalse – Mezzo Soprano
Elly Van Munster – Lute
Total time: 01:02:50
Adriaen Valerius, anonymus, D.R. Camphuysen, D.V. Coornhert, G.A. Bredero, J.C. Weyerman, Jan Jansz. Starter, Jan van Hout, Jan vander Noot, Joost van den Vondel, Nicolaes Vallet, P.C. Hooft, W.G. van Focquenbroch, Willem Reijersz. De Lange
Sphinx by Merging Technologies
|Original Recording Format|
Old Catholic Church, Delft (Netherlands)
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||February 26, 2021|
From the middle of the 16th century music-making at home was a popular and widespread pursuit in the Netherlands. There were no royal or aristocratic courts with court chapels, and in the Protestant Churches only congregational psalm singing was allowed. So, in the privacy of the home and in public places like taverns music was made and became a significant activity.
Part of the repertoire were songs, often so-called contrafacta where existing music was overlaid with new texts. In the second half of the 16th century and in the 17th century poetry blossomed in the Netherlands. Many poems give indications as to the melodies to which they could be sung. But these are mostly not printed which makes it difficult to be sure which music was intended.
Over the last couple of decades much research has been done, and right now a database of melodies and texts is available. Experts have compared texts and melodies based on number and length of lines and the metrical structure. As a result, several poems can be sung. For this disc Margot Kalse has done some research of her own: “[F]or beautiful texts I have tried to find fitting tunes, and for beautiful tunes fitting, interesting texts”.
This album offers a selection from the large number of song books which were published in the Netherlands from the middle of the 16th century to the early 18th century. Most pieces date from the first half of the 17th century, when the Netherlands were during their ‘Golden Age’. Some of the best poets of the time are represented, like Joost van den Vondel and Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft.
The songs span a wide variety of subjects. Some deal with love, often written for a specific woman, others are of a religious or political nature. In the poems there are references to mythology and word-games. The music is also various. Most melodies or songs are of French or Italian nature. It is mentioned that Hooft’s poem Sterflijck geslacht, uw suchten schorst (O mortal race, do stop your sighs) [track 14] is sung to the tune Cessez, mortels de souspirez, the composer is Pierre Guédron, a composer of many airs de cour in 17th century France. In fact, this poem is an adaptation of the text Guédron used.
Some melodies are of a truly international nature. The first item, for instance, is sung to the tune Doulce mémoire, one of the most famous chansons of the 16th century. And track 7, Helena antwoort tot Paris (Helena answers Paris) is sung on the melody of Tant que vivray, a famous French chanson. There are also sacred tunes. Track 2 uses the melody of the rhymed version of the Magnificat as it was composed in the circles of the Huguenots and included in the Genevan Psalter. From this collection also come the melodies of tracks 6 and 8, Psalms 48 and 128 respectively. And in track 16 we hear the original melody of what today is the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus van Nassouwe.
The album ends with two songs from the early 18th century which are of a quite different character. They are written by Jacob Campo Weyerman, one of the main literary representatives of the Enlightenment in the Netherlands. He was especially known for his satirical writings, and Sa! Laat ons dan rustig raazen is a specimen of that genre. The text is from a magazine, and as the liner-notes tell “Weyerman introduces an armchair that speaks about its occupants. Here we meet a ‘podagrist’, one who suffers from the gout but is nonetheless on a drinking bout, following the advice of a drunken doctor.”
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