Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ensemble Micrologus - Cantigas de Santa Maria

I'm thankful to this recording for opening my eyes to medieval music. Books such as Barbara Tuchman's Through A Distant Mirror may bring your imagination back in time to a good degree, but there is nothing like music to thoroughly immerse yourself in the ethos and aesthetics of a distant past.

These 13th century songs to the Virgin Mary are an excellent escape from the normal musical fare of the Christmas season. They bring you back to the court of Alfonso X of Castile. The language being sung is a mix of medieval Portuguese and Spanish. I included a PDF of the introduction. It gives brief historical background and a description of the wild assortment of wind, string, and percussion instruments used in the recording.

For more information, please see Greg Lindahl's wonderful page, including facsimiles of the original manuscripts as well as dozens of other related links. Lindahl is an active participant in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I've been told many times that I should also be an active member. Maybe one day.

In the meantime, Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sandy Bull - E Pluribus Unum

I was looking for something way out of the ordinary to post, and here it is. Sandy Bull's E Pluribus Unum, from 1969, is a wild mix of Americana, blues, and middle-eastern trippiness. The album consists of two long, laid-back instrumental tunes, definitely worth a spin. You can either purchase an Amazon MP3 copy or click here for a slightly lower bit rate from my collection.