Kalenda Maya. Medieval and Renaissance Music  /  Kalenda Maya

Songs and dances from 1200 to 1500. Spain, Italy, France and Germany

Simax PS 1017 (LP)
Simax PSC 1017 (CD)


1. Quena Virgen ben servirá a Parayso irá   [3:08]   CSM  103
Cantigas de Santa Maria (ca. 1280)
song, guitarra latina, Turkish long-necked lute, guitar-shaped fiddle, recorder, Turkish drum, cymbals

2. De moi doleros vos chant   [3:00]
Gillebert de BERNEVILLE (ca. 1250-80)
song, psaltery, Arab lute, guitar-shaped fiddle, recorder, bells

3. El Rey de Francia   [3:19]
Traditional Sephardic song
song, Arab lute, mandora, guitar-shaped fiddle, oval fiddle, Turkish drum

4. La Rotta   [1:53]
Anonymous Italian dance (ca. 1390)
rebec, oval fiddle, Arab lute, psaltery, Galician drum

5. Rodrigo Martines   [0:48]
Cancionero de Palacio, No. 12 (ca. 1490)
song, wooden spoons, Galician triangle, drum from Salamanca

6. Como poden per sas culpas   [3:08]   CSM  166
Cantigas de Santa Maria (ca. 1280)
song, lute, oval fiddle, long-necked lute, Turkish drum, cymbals, choir

7. Mayenzeit one Neidt   [2:57]
Neidhart von REUENTHAL (ca. 1230)
song, harp

8. Riú, Ríu, Chíu   [2:38]
Cancionero de Upsala, No. 46 (ca. 1520). Attributed to Mateo FLECHA
4 voices, Galician drum, cymbals, handclap

9. Lavava y suspirava   [4:49]
Traditional Sephardic song
song, guitar-shaped fiddle, mandora, recorder, Arab lute, Galician drum, tambourine, harness bells

10. Christ ist Erstanden   [2:28]
Hans JUDENKÜNIG (ca. 1525)
song, harp, recorder, portative organ, viol, renaissance violin, bells

11. Como o nome da Virgen   [4:38]   CSM  194
Cantigas de Santa Maria (ca. 1280)
song, Arab lute, psaltery, guitar-shaped fiddle, rebab, recorder, choir

12. Saltarello   [1:30]
Anonymous Italian dance (ca. 1390)
Arab lute, recorder, lute, tambourine

13. Yo me soy la morenica   [1:00]
Cancionero de Upsala, No. 44 (1525)
four voices, drum from Provence, Galician triangle, tambourine

14. Mariam Matrem   [3:19]   LV  8
Llibre Vermell (ca. 1400)
song, psaltery, Arab lute, guitar-shaped fiddle, bells, choir

15. Maravillosos e Piadosos   [3:50]   CSM  139
Cantigas de Santa Maria (ca. 1280)
song, psaltery, Arab lute, fiddle, bells, choir

Kalenda Maya
Sverre Jensen — ensemble leader, arrangements and instruments
Hans Frederik Jacobsen — musical direction

Sverre Jensen — psaltery, mandora, Arab lute, long-necked lute, portative organ, harp, percussion
Sidsel Brevig — guitar-fiddle, 8-shaped fiddle, violin, rebec
Knut Erik Aagaard — arab lute, Renaissance lute, guitarra latina, bass viol
Tone Hulbækmo — harp, percussion
Hans Frederik Jacobsen — recorders, percussion, Arab lute
Henrik Sinding-Larsen — percussion, rebab, oval fiddle

Why does a group of young Norwegian musicians spend years of their lives to unveil the mysteries of a long forgotten art, presenting music from far away and long ago? Well, the language of music is universal. The difference between a modern Norwegian and a Spaniard from the Middle Ages seems vast. The music on this album bridges the old and the modern world, crosses frontiers and unites peoples of highly dissimilar traditions.

Kalenda Maya consists of six musicians from Tolga, Risør and Oslo, who have specialized in medieval and renaissance music. The repertory covers the main European cultural centres of the epoch, with an emphasis on Spanish music. The ensemble, founded by Sverre Jensen (who also makes arrangements and instruments) in 1973, has retained its present composition and musical profile since 1978.

Several of the members of Kalenda Maya have had their basic training within the tradition of Norwegian folk music. This fact confers to the old music a suitably informal freshness. The aim of this record is to revitalize a musical form believed by many to be austere, academic and dry. Kalenda Maya shows how withering parchments can be transformed into accessible and living music.

Apart from radio and television broadcastings in Spain and in Norway, Kalenda Maya has conducted nationwide tours in both countries.

Additional choir (in 6,11 and 15):
Kristina Brein, Birgit Eika, Ame Haanshus and Kjell Vig

Recorded September 1984 in Gamle Aker Kirke, Oslo, Norway,
with two Schoeps omnidirectional microphones and Sony digital recording equipment.

Produced by Tellef Kvifte
Recorded and edited by Ame Akselberg

Additional choir (in 6,11 and 15):
Kristina Brein, Birgit Eika, Ame Haanshus and Kjell Vig

CD production: Disctronics Ltd, London

Booklet photo: Tor Viken
Drawing and booklet notes: Sverre Jensen
Booklet layout: Kalenda Maya & Pro Musica AS

All rights of the producer and the owner of the work reproduced reserved.
Unauthorized copying, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting of this record prohibited without consent.

A Pro Musica Recording


1. Psaltery — 2. Long-necked lute — 3. Arab lute — 4. Guitarra latina — 5. Cymbals — 6. Portative organ — 7. Galician triangle — 8. Mandora — 9. Bass viol — 10. Rebec — 11. Guitar fiddle — 12. Oval fiddle — 13. Rebab — 14. Norwegian harp — 15. Soprano recorder — 16. Alto recorder — 17. Treble recorder — 18. Drum from Salamanca — 19. Tambourine — 20. Wooden spoons — 21. Turkish drum — 22. Bells.

The instruments

Few medieval instruments have survived. So in order to equip the ensemble, its founder, Sverre Jensen, has reconstructed the main types of instruments on the basis of Romanic and Gothic painting and sculpture. His versions are the fruit of half a life-time of handicraft and research.

The musical instruments of the Middle Ages were a varied lot. Many had been introduced by the Moslems, either by the Moors in Spain or by the Turks who invaded the south-eastern regions of Europe.

Most numerous were the stringed instruments. They were of two main types, bowed or plucked. Among the latter the lute was favoured by both Moslems and Christians. There were lutes with short (8) and long (2) necks. The mandora (8), for instance, was a short-necked lute with a curved peg-box plucked with a plectrum. All displayed the characteristic shape of a bowl, often carved out of a single piece of wood. Beside the lutes there were also plucked instruments with a flat back, such as the guitarra latina (4), probably originating in Europe.

The bow, also of southern origin, has been known in Europe since the beginning of the 11th century. At first, it seems, the musicians applied it to any stringed instrument, but soon the bowed instruments proper emerged. The pear-shaped rebec (10), for one, descended from the lutes, only to be replaced a few centuries later by a somewhat distant and younger relative, the violin. Two types of rebec are featured on this record, the typical one with a wooden belly (10), and another with a skin belly (13), like the American banjo. This skin-bellied rebec bears a striking resemblance to the bowed rebab of present-day Morocco.

Of all the instruments of the Middle Ages the most popular one was the fiddle (11, 12), a bowed instrument with a flat back, the direct ancestor of the violin. It came in various shapes and sizes, oval (12), guitar-shaped (11) or, more suitably, in the shape of an 8.

Other stringed instruments include harps (14) and psalteries (1). The psaltery, grandfather of the piano, has a flat resonance box covered with diatonically tuned strings.

There were also wind instruments of various descriptions. This recording features mainly recorders (15, 16, 17), but of equal importance were the reed instruments, such as the bagpipe and the shawm.

In the Middle Ages even the organ was well known, though usually in the form of the portative organ (6). The player held this instrument in his lap, touching the keys with his right hand and wielding the bellows with his left.

The percussionists had at their disposal an array of instruments still in use in folk music in various parts of Europe. Most common was the tambourin (19), but bells (22), harness-bells, triangles (7) and cymbals (5) were not unusual. The different drums (18, 21), largely unchanged, still abound in remote European villages and Arab bazaars.

With the renaissance another generation of instruments - this time specifically European - was born. Of these we use the viol (9), the renaissance violin and the eight-course lute. However, among ordinary people the medieval traditions still lingered on, thus warranting the use of medieval instruments for early renaissance music as well.

The instruments are made by:
· Bass viol, Rebec, Rebab, Mandora, Renaissance violin, Guitarra latina, Norwegian harp, Portative organ, Wooden spoons — Sverre Jensen.
· Guitar fiddle — Henrik Sinding-Larsen and Sverre Jensen.
· Psaltery — Ali Dogan, Constantinople.
· Turkish long-necked lute — Semsi Yastiman, Constantinople.
· Arab lute — Anon., Cairo.
· Renaissance lute — Stephen Gottlieb, England.
· Recorders — Moeck, West Germany.
· Provençal drum — Marius Farbre, Barjols, France.

The music
The music on this album originated and was performed in a manner not unlike that of folk music. Largely the composer is unknown, and when we do know his name, as likely as not he has simply picked up a current tune and fitted it with new words.

The medieval system of notation gives little indication of the interpretation of the music, and when different manuscripts are available for the same song the tunes are seldom identical. Our present folk music can never be learned exclusively from written transcriptions. The musician in an oral tradition will always have at his disposal a larger body of knowledge - improvisation, arrangement techniques and other factors influencing performance. This is also the case with secular medieval music, except that the carriers of tradition are all dead. Therefore the tradition must be recreated, if only approximately. Indeed it is possible to realize fairly reliable interpretations based on knowledge of notation and instruments - how to make them, play them and combine them - and also being sensitive to stylistic traits among relevant cultural groups, such as the Andalusians or the Sephardic Turcs. Hence, the music of Kalenda Maya is not «guaranteed correct». There are, of course, no means of complete authentication. The aim - apart from making live music - is to offer versions that are at least compatible with the known facts of medieval music. The listener will hopefully appreciate that the facts are not that few.

1. «Quena Virgen Ben Servirá a Parayso Irá»
Cantigas de Santa María No. 103.
guitarra latina, Turkish long-necked lute, guitar-shaped fiddle, recorder, Turkish drum, cymbals.
Alphonse X, the Wise (1226-84), king of Castile and Leon, is famous - among many other things - for the great manuscript «Las Cantigas de Santa María», which contains some 400 songs praising the Holy Virgin. This collection is the most important source of non-liturgic medieval monody. The songs show how the Virgin intervenes in the everyday life of the common man and his masters, and they are, in a certain sense, profoundly secular. Many of the tunes and lyrics must have been brought by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, others are surely the work of the Wise King himself, who personally supervised the editors. The Cantigas are written in the Galician language, the poetic idiom of the peninsula at that time. Cantiga 103 is about a monk praying to the Virgin for a glimpse of eternity. Suddenly a bird appears, singing so beautifully that the monk, enchanted by the listens for 300 years, oblivious to the passing time. On returning to the convent which he has just left, he is very disturbed to find that no one seems to know him any longer.

2. «De moi Doleros Vos Chant»
Gillebert de Berneville (ca. 1250-80).
psaltery, Arab lute, guitar-shaped fiddle, recorder, bells.
Medieval France consisted of two separate regions, differing politically, culturally and linguistically: Provence in the south and France in the north. The first European poets who wrote in the vernacular were the troubadours of Provence, singers-writers of courtly poetry that flourished in the 12th century. A bit later the movement spread to France through the art of the trouvères. From this tradition comes the song «De moi Doleros», a story of unhappy love.

3. «El Rey de Francia»
Sephardic song.
Arab lute, mandora, guitar-shaped fiddle, oval fiddle, Turkish drum.
The Jews of the Iberian peninsula - los sefardíes - were expelled after the Reconquest. They settled in ghettos in different Mediterranean countries, notably in Turkey and the Balkans, where they faithfully retained their Spanish heritage. Sephardic music can often be traced back to Moslem Spain. Redressing the music with medieval instruments their songs offer an indirect but interesting approach to Andalucian Jewish music prior to the Reconquest.
«El Rey de Francia» is the story of a princess' strange dream interpreted by her mother as a sign that the princess end up with a royal wedding. This version stems from Smyrna in Turkey.

4. «La Rotta»
Anonymous Italian dance.
Rebec, oval fiddle, Arab lute, psaltery, Galician drum.
Possibly the most popular among the medieval dance tunes, «La Rotta» is found in a late 14th century manuscript containing some 15 dances in the form of «estampie».

5. «Rodrigo Martines»
Cancionero de Palacio No. 12.
wooden spoons, Galician triangle, drum from Salamanca.
The manuscript, kept in Madrid, contains about 400 songs from the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, toward the end of the 15th century. This two-voiced song is about a goose-keeper who would rather be a cowboy.

6. «Como Poden per sas Culpas»
Cantigas de Santa María No. 166.
lute, oval fiddle, long-necked lute, Turkish drum, cymbals, choir.
Popular even today, this Cantiga tells the edifying story of a poor sinner who had been punished with a paralysing disease. After five pious years of repentance he travelled to Salas, in Asturias, to seek forgiveness in front of a Virgin image known for its curative powers. Maria was rightly touched by the prayers of the remorseful sinner, and he returned sane and saved.

7. «Mayenzeit one Neidt»
Neidhard von Reuenthal (ca. 1230).
The Germanic version of the courtly tradition of the troubadours was the «Minnesänger». Prolific among the «Minnesdnger», Neidhard has left many songs about the seasons. Mayenzeit praises the pleasures of spring and the imminent summer.

8. «Ríu, Ríu, Chíu»
Cancionero de Upsala No. 46. Attributed to Mateo Flecho.
4 voices, Galician drum, cymbals, handclap.
This book of Spanish renaissance songs from the beginning of the 16th century was printed in Italy around 1550. The only remaining copy is kept at the University Library of Uppsala, Sweden, hence the name. A Christmas carol, «Ríu, Ríu, Chíu» is without doubt the most famous song from this collection.

9. «Lavava y Suspirava»
Sephardic song.
guitar-shaped fiddle, mandora, recorder, Arab lute, Galician drum, tambourine, harness bells.
This is the tale of the unexpected reunion of a son and his long lost sister. The story is still sung in Spain under the name of «Don Boyso». The present version comes from the Sephardic community in Turkey.

10. «Christ ist Erstanden»
Hans Judenkünig (1526).
harp, recorder, portative organ, viol, renaissance violin, bells.
«Christ resurrected», a well-known hymn, has inspired many a composer. This two-voiced version is the work of Hans Judenkünig, a famous lutenist from Vienna. Another version seems to be the English song «Scarborough fair».

11. «Como o Nome da Virgen»
Cantigas de Santa Marla No. 194.
Arab lute, psaltery, guitar-shaped fiddle, rebab, recorder, choir.
This Cantiga is about a troubadour performing for the gentry in their Catalonian castles. One gentleman so envied him his fine horse and clothes that he contracted two ruffians to rob him on the wayside. Seized by the mercenaries the troubadour in his despair cried out: «Maria!», whereupon the criminals literally were paralysed and the victim managed to escape.

12. «Saltarello»
Anonymous dance from Italy.
Arab lute, recorder, lute, tambourine.
Instrumental dance tune from the Italian 14th century manuscript mentioned above.

13. «Yo me soy la Morenica»
Cancionero de Upsala No. 44.
Four voices; drum from Provence, Galician triangle, tambourine.
This is Maria herself singing. The author may have thought of the Virgin found in Montserrat, over whose breast is written from the Song of Songs 1-5: «I am black, but comely O ye daughters of Jerusalem».

14. «Mariam Matrem»
Llibre Vermell (15th century).
psaltery, Arab lute, guitar-shaped fiddle, bells, choir.
The music from the «Red Book» from Montserrat is recommended for the diversion of the pilgrims, who may use it for dancing or singing. The tunes may be traditional, but the Latin lyrics seem to have been written for the occasion. «Mariam Matrem» is a three-voiced song praising the Virgin.

15. «Maravillosos e Piadosos»
Cantigas de Santa María No. 139.
Song, psaltery, Arab lute, fiddle, bells, choir.
This beautiful Cantiga is about a Flemish woman who presents her young son to an effigy of the Virgin in the church. The son offers a piece of bread to the infant Christ, inviting him to eat. Immediately the boy is rewarded. He ascends directly to paradise, in a state of bliss, but dead.

English translation: Knut Erik Aagaard

Simax PS 1017 (LP)