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A Miscellany of Links about Early Music

A note on terminology

for those who found this page through a search engine:

This page uses the term "early music" frequently. People generally use this term to mean one of two things:

  1. music of a particular chronological period, e.g. pre-1700 or pre-1800 (or, for some people, before the Beatles broke up!)
  2. music performed in a "historically informed" manner, i.e. using as nearly as possible the instruments, forces, tempi, vocal techniques, etc. current when the music was written (theoretically, this could apply to playing early-1960's rock with a Telecaster and a 10-watt amp)
This page belongs to the the Crown Province of Østgarðr, a local branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism, whose official focus ends in 1600. So for our purposes, "early music" is medieval or Renaissance, excluding the Baroque and later periods. The Webmaster happens to enjoy playing Bach, Chopin, and even Scott Joplin, but those won't be discussed on this page.

Upcoming concerts

For more concerts (and a broader definition of "early music"), see

Where do I find sheet music?

One of the most common questions we get: a newcomer plays guitar, or fiddle, or recorder, or sings, and wants to know if there's any period (i.e. pre-1600) music around for him/her to learn. This is sorta like asking "does anybody know a good place to eat in Manhattan?": it's hard to answer without narrowing down the question. But here are some ideas.

Casazza's Old Measures
Joseph Casazza's arrangements of the melodies of "Inns of Court" dances (Elizabethan English), freely downloadable (retaining his copyright to the arrangements)
Casazza's Arbeau
Joseph Casazza's article about Arbeau's Orchesography, including his arrangements of many of Arbeau's dance tunes. Again, freely downloadable although he retains copyright.
Paul Butler's arrangements
Paul Butler (ska Master Arden of Icomb) has arranged a number of medieval and Renaissance pieces, and made them freely available for performance and distribution within the SCA
Steve Hendricks's arrangements
Steve Hendricks has done multi-part arrangements of hundreds of Renaissance dance tunes; this page lists them all, in a convenient tabular format.
the Choral Public Domain Library
a massive collection of copyright-free vocal music from all eras, categorized by time period, genre, number of voices, etc. Only a few dozen medieval pieces as of this writing, but thousands of Renaissance pieces.
Your local college or University library
More useful than most public libraries for this purpose (although see the NYPL Performing Arts Library, below). Since most academic libraries use the Library of Congress cataloguing system, you'll probably want call numbers starting with M2, which includes music scores from all periods. You'll still need to know what you're looking for, but once you find it you can generally photocopy the relevant pages in the library under the "fair use doctrine" (depending on what you plan to use it for).
the Performing Arts Collection of New York Public Library
at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. A world-class collection of performing-arts materials (music, theatre, dance, film, etc.), many of which can be checked out with your NYPL card. Even if you don't have an NYPL card, you can walk in and browse the collections; it's much friendlier than the 42nd-Street main library.
Other early-music hobbyists
If you see or hear somebody playing or singing early music at an SCA event, an American Recorder Society workshop, a Renaissance faire, etc, they probably have lots of printed music at home, and some with them. Most of these folks, including John & Rufina, love to talk about their interests and hobbies, so strike up a conversation (unless they're rehearsing for a performance in a few minutes) and you'll probably get more information than you know what to do with.

On-line reference sources on early music

Museum Exhibits on early music

Pages for Specific Instruments

Pages about Early Music Performance Practice

Sources for Early Musical Instruments, Sheet Music, Etc.

We've done business with some, but not all, of these companies. Inclusion in this list does not constitute an endorsement by the Webmaster, the Crown Province of Østgar?r, the Society for Creative Anachronism, or anybody else. If you're considering buying anything from these merchants, please do some research before shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Our bibliography of early music

Our discography of early music

Early music on the radio

in and around NYC

There's not a lot, frankly, but here are the programs we've found so far.
  • "The Early Music Show" on WKCR, 89.9 FM, 9:30 AM-12 noon Fridays.
  • "Here of a Sunday Morning" on WBAI, 99.5 FM, 9-11 AM Sundays.
  • "Sound and Spirit" on WNYC, 93.9 FM, 7-8 AM Sundays, is not, strictly speaking, an early music program, but early music frequently appears on the playlist.
  • WQXR, a classical station whose daytime DJ, Jeff Spurgeon, mixes in a significant amount of medieval and Renaissance music too.

elsewhere around the country

I'm sure there are many more than these, but I know that these are available in syndication, so there's some hope of persuading a local radio station to pick them up. Except, of course, for the "if it's not from New York, it's CRAP!" phenomenon....
  • Angela Mariani's Harmonia, a weekly program (Thursdays 9:00-10:00 PM EST) from Indiana University's renowned Early Music Institute (available free on satellite).
  • Ross Duffin's Micrologus (which actually ran only from 1981-1998, but reruns are available).
  • Robert Aubry Davis's Millennium of Music, a weekly program (Sundays 10:00-11:00 PM Eastern time) on Washington, DC's WETA. Davis also plays early music on the digital satellite radio channel XM Radio 112.
  • Early Music Classical Fiasco, a weekly program (Sundays from 7-9 PM Pacific time, i.e. 10-midnight in New York) on KXLU. I think the first hour is early music, and the second hour is "unusual classical and world music", but I haven't actually listened to the program yet.
  • Treasury of Early Music, a Web-radio station specializing in Medieval, Renaissance, and early Baroque music.

Various individuals' and groups' pages on early music

Pages for Specific Composers or Genres

Pages with Photos and Sound Files of Early Instruments


D. Peters / Magistra Rufina Cambrensis / seahorse at ostgardr dot org
Stephen Bloch / Master John Elys / webmaster@ostgardr.org