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NZSM: Sympathetic Strings


Tue 18 Mar 2014, 8:15pm–9:30pm

Where: Adam Concert Room, NZSM Kelburn Campus, Victoria University, Gate 7, Kelburn Parade, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • General Admission: $20.00 ($19.00 + $1.00 fees)
  • Adults : $19.00
  • Senior/Student : $10.00
  • NZSM Staff & Students: $0.00 ($0.00)
  • Eventfinda tickets no longer on sale

Music for lyra viols, recorder and harpsichord/organ featuring visiting artist Sarah Mead with Robert Oliver, Kamala Bain and Erin Helyard.

Sarah Mead teaches, performs, and proselytizes polyphony in the Boston area. The 2007 winner of the Thomas Binkley Award from Early Music America, she is Professor of the Practice of Music at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts.

In the 1600's instrument-makers came up with a new fusion of string technologies, somewhere between a guitar, a harp, and a viola da gamba: the lyra-viol, with six gut strings for bowing chords and seven wire strings to give it a powerful buzz. The gut strings could be tuned in a variety of ways, from the standard viol tuning used for solo playing, to full, rich chords.

With so many tunings, standard music notation was not practical. Instead, music for the instrument was written in tablature similar to that used for the lute, with horizontal lines representing the strings and letters indicating the fret - a kind of paint-by-numbers approach that allowed the player to finger the piece without actually knowing what pitches would result. The bow could sweep across multiple strings to produce chords, or pick out melodies on a single string.

Most lyra-viol music combined these aspects, resulting in broken melodies accompanied by ringing harmonies. The sympathetically-tuned wire strings added resonance to reinforce the accompaniment. Some of the greatest English composers of the mid-17th century embraced the new sound, combining it with other strings and keyboards to form a 'Little Consort' with a big sound.

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