Music & Illustration

CD Liner Notes

Extended CD Liner Notes

Forces of Nature (Extended Liner Notes & Translations)1. Siren Song (composed by Michelle Levy) SK & ML–vielles
Ocean sound by Schism Studios (St Kilda, Victoria, Australia)
Underwater sound by Moonshadow Media (Solna, Stockholm, Sweden)Originally commissioned by Numina Center For Spirituality and the Arts for a performance of Dante’s Purgatorio, in which a siren tries to seduce Dante. In Dante’s version, he manages to resist the temptation with the aid of divine intervention, but iin our version on the CD, the siren wins. The performance-version had a choir whispering “io son dolce sirena” (I am your gentle siren) in waves to create the ocean sound.2. Dehors Lonc Pré (13th c.) SK–harp, ML–vielle

3. Erthe (13 c. English poem) SK &ML–vielles, ML–vocals “Earth”. Musical setting composed by M.Levy.

The medieval poetic form of rondeau is ABaAabAB, with capital letters denoting lines of repeating text and lowercase letters revealing a change (such as, in this case, introducing a purely instrumental element).

Translation from The Poetry Foundation:

Erthe took of erthe, erthe with woe
Erthe other erthe to the erthe drough
Erthe leyde erthe in erthen trough
Than hadde erthe of erthe erthe erthe enough.
Earth took of earth, earth with woe,
Earth other earth to the earth added;
Earth laid earth in an earthen grave.
Then had earth of earth enough earth.

Une petite disclaimer: While inspired by medieval poetry, and while keeping true to the medieval rondeau, and though performed on Medieval instruments– we approach this piece with a very modern “folk” sensibility. That is, the accompaniment is not exactly what one would expect to hear in the 13th century… but it sure feels good!

4. English Dance (13th c.) England, ML–vielle
A real treasure: this is one of tne of the few surviving instrumental pieces from the early middle ages.

5. Reverdie: Volez vous que je vous chant – 13th c. trouvére anon. (Anon., RS 318, MW 562, Mss. K, f. 314-315 (t/m) French, ML–vielle, SM–vocals “Would You Like Me to Sing to You”

Volez-vous que je vous chant
Un son d´amors avenant?
Vilain ne l fist mie,
Ainz le fist un chevalier
Sous l´onbre d´um olivier,
Entre les bras s´amie.Chemisette avoit de lin
Et blanc peliçon hermin
Et bliaut de soie,
Chauces ot de jaglolai
Et sollers de flors de mai,
Estroitement chauçade.Ceinturette avoit de fueille
Qui verdist quand li tems mueille;
D´or ert boutonade.
L´aumosniere estoit d´amor;
Li pendant furent de flor,
Par amors fu donade.Elle chevauchoit une mule;
D´argent ert la ferreüre,
La sele ert dorade;
Seur la crope par derrier
Avoit planté trois rosiers,
Por fere li honbrage.

Si s´en vet aval la pree;
Chevaliers l´ont encontree,
Biaul´ont saluade:
“Bele, dont estes-vous nee?”
“De France sui la löee,
Da plus haut parage.

“Li rosignous est mon pere
Qui chante sur la ramee
El plus haut boscage;
La seraine, ele est ma mere
Qui chante en la mer salee
El plus haut rivage.

“Bele, bon fussiez-vous nee,
Bien estes enparentée,
Et de haut parage;
Pleüst a Dieu nostre pere
Que vous me fussiez donnee
A fame espousade.”

Would you like me to sing you
a charming love song?
It is not rude.
It was written by a knight
in the shade of an olive tree
in the arms of his beloved.She wore a linen shift
a white ermine cloak
and a tunic of silk.
Stockings of gladiolas
and shoes of May flowers
snugly fit her feet.She wore a belt of leaves
that grew green when the weather changed;
it had a golden buckle.
Her purse was made of love;
the pendants were of flowers,
given out of true love.She rode on a mule
with silver horseshoes
and a saddle made of gold;
on the crupper behind her
she had planted three rosebushes
to give her shade.

As she went along the meadow
she met some knights
who courteously greeted her:
“Beautiful One, where are you from?”
“I am from France, the noble country,
of highest lineage.”

“The nightengale is my father
who sings on a branch
in the highest forest.
The siren is her mother
who sings in the salty sea
and dwells on the highest bank.”

“Fair one, well were you born,
noble is your parentage
and of high lineage.
I wish to God our Father
that you had been given to me
as a wedded wife.”

The Middle French transcription is taken from Chanter M’estuet: Songs of the Trouvères, Samuel N Rosenberg & Hans Tischler, London 19816. La Fiamma Del To Amor(Johannes Ciconia c. 1370-between 10 June and 13 July 1412) SK & ML–vielles “The Flame of Love”This is originally a vocal piece in Ballata form (AbbaA). Here is is performed on two vielles.My lady will never have mercy. If you don’t see to it, love, that she will certain of my great ardor. If she knew the pain I bear –  for honesty’s sake concealed in my mind – Only for her beauty, nothing else gives comfort to a grieving soul, perhaps by her would be extinguished in me the flames which seem to arouse in her from day to day more pain.

7. Lenten is Come (Harley MS 2253 ca.1340) English, SK & ML– vielles and vocals, TB–recorder “Spring Has Come”. Musical setting of text composed by M.Levy. Vocal accompaniment on verses 1 & 3 by S.Kammen.

8. Foweles In The Frith ( Douce  MS 139, ca 1270) English, SK&ML– vielles, ML–vocals “Birds in the Wood”

Consumed by the madness of love, the solitary wanderer takes refuge in the forest. The most natural sounds become looped in a very unnatural way, symbolizing the way that we replay scenes over and over in our head when we are consumed by unresolved issues and difficult memories. We hear a call-and-response improvisation between the two vielles over the form of the poem (ABBAB). Next, we hear the poem: Birds in the woods, fishes in the sea– everything is in its place, exactly as it should be… except for the poet. Where is his/her place? Finally, the melody becomes a chase between the two vielles, creating chaos and dischord but finally resolving.

Foweles in the frith,
the fishes in the flood,
and I mon waxe wod:
much sorwe I walke with
for best of bon and blood.
Birds in the woods,
the fish in the sea,
and I grow mad:
much sorrow I walk with
for beast of bone and blood.

9. Non Avrà Ma’ Pietà– 3 part Ballata by FRANCESCO LANDINI  (c.1325-1397) & instrumental version from  Faenza Codex (early 15th c. MS) Italian, SK & ML– vielles

10. Lark in the Blue Summer Sky (Sk & ML– fiddles) –trad irish/ Stantipes 13th c. English (SK & ML–vielles)/ River Bend by Dan R. MacDonald (SK & ML–fiddles)/ Flame in the Fiddle by R.B. Mathieson (SK & ML–fiddles)/ Ductia 13th c. English (SK &ML–vielles)  TR–percussion

Please visit!__menu/collection for accompanying visuals to this song.

11. Aran Boat Song –trad Irish or Scottish. SK–harp, ML–fiddle

I learned this as a trad Irish song, but I don’t know for certain if the title refers to the Aran Isles in Ireland, or the Scottish Isle of Arran. In any case, on this recording– as you will hear– I’m not playing it in either a trad Irish or trad Scottish way… it’s an inspiring tune, wherever it’s from.

12. Blossom Bar (composed by Michelle Levy with the help of Larry Unger. Chords by Jim Oakden. Accompaniments by Shira Kammen and Jim Oakden). SK–viola, ML–fiddle, JO– guitar

Blossom Bar is one of the most dangerous rapids on the Rogue River, and when one is about to go through it, it’s impossible not to think about the people who never made it. It is an awe-inspiring experience, and I wanted this tune to reflect the bouncy, bumpy ride of this rapid. I spent over a year waiting to write the tune, but unable to. Larry explained I was thinking too much, so we jammed on the beginnings of a chord structure in E Dorian, not writing anything down but just generating ideas. Larry also suggested I put in “a dangerous note” (which you may notice in the second half of the tune). I wrote the tune a couple days later, at Pinewoods Music and Dance Camp. I love playing this for contra dancers!

13. Giunge’l Bel Tempo (Jacopo da Bologna), Italian fl. 1340-c.1386) SK and ML, vielles
An instrumental in Medieval madrigal form– different than the madrigals we are more familiar with from the Renaissance.

14. Foweles in the Frith-– instr. (Douce  MS 139, ca 1270) English, SK and ML, vielle

All accompaniments written or improvised by Michelle and Shira. Guitar accompaniment by Jim Oakden. Percussion accompaniment by Tim Rayborn.