About the manuscript
RCM MS 2093 is an early example of a retrospective compilation assembled over several decades to preserve current and earlier repertoire. It was copied during the 1660s and 1670s and is closely contemporaneous with Stephen Keene's virginal dated 1668 used for the recording.
As a witness of contemporary performance practice and musical pedagogy, the manuscript reveals important evidence about fingering, ornamentation, figured-bass, and keyboard improvisation. Reading from both ends, the book contains two series of pieces: from one end, a series of preludes; and from the other (by reversing the book) a series of fugues (here called voluntaries and fantasias). It is in effect an early collection of preludes and fugues: a proto-"well-tempered clavier" though with each genre recorded separately.
Altogether there are thirty pieces organised by genre (twenty-one preludes and voluntaries, three grounds, two fantasias, a trumpet air, song arrangements and dances, and a figured-bass exercise) by John Bull, John Blow, William Byrd, John Dowland, Orlando Gibbons, Matthew Locke, John Maynard, Benjamin Rogers, Thomas Weelkes and Abiel Whichello.
Its contents would have been performed on any available keyboard instrument: virginal, spinet, harpsichord, clavichord, chamber or church organ.
Details of the inside and rear front covers of the modern binding of RCM MS 2093. Above: the original index of preludes and non-contrapuntal music. Below: the original index of fantasias. Both indexes were pasted onto the end papers when the manuscript was rebound in the twentieth century (1960s?). Images reproduced by permission of the Royal College of Music, London.
The edition used for these recordings, and for the incipits shown below, is published by Norsk Musikforlag A/S as English
keyboard music c.1650-c.1700: a series of facsimiles of manuscript
sources, volume 1: London, Royal College of Music library, MS 2093.
Edited by Heather Windram and Terence Charlston with an introductory
essay by Andrew Woolley and a foreword by Colin Lawson (Oslo: Norsk Musikforlag A/S, 2015). It provides a
complete facsimile, a transcription of all thirty pieces in modern
notation, together with critical commentary, and an extensive
introduction discussing the source, its compilation, and performance
1 Farranellas Ground (f. 1v)
N.B. In RCM MS 2093 this piece consists of just 16 bars of music. The additional variations in the recording are improvised in the manner of contemporary examples.
2 A Preludium (ff. 2v-3r)
3 A Preludium (ff. 3v-4r) [John Bull]
4 A Preludium (ff. 4v-5r) [John Bull]
5 A Preludium (ff. 5v-6r) [William Byrd]
6 A Preludium (f. 6v) [John Bull]
7 The Canaries (f. 7r)
8 A Preludium (ff. 7v-8r)
9 A Preludium (ff. 8v-9r)
10 A Preludium (ff. 9v-11v) [Orlando Gibbons]
11a Dr Bulls Grounds (ff. 12r-16v) John Bull
11b [Come Again: Sweet Love Doth Now Invite] (ff. 16v-17r) [John Dowland]
12 Dr Bulls Grownd (ff. 17v-20v) John Bull
13 A Preludium (f. 21r) [Matthew Locke]
14 A Preludium (ff. 21v-22r) [Matthew Locke]
15 'Cords' (ff. 22v-23r)
16 Dr Blows Voluntary (ff. 23v-24r) John Blow
17 The Criar (f. 24v)
Inside rear cover
18 Trumpet Aire (ff. 46r-45v) [Abiell Whichello]
19 Voluntary (ff. 45r-44r)
20 Voluntary (ff. 44r-42r)
21 Voluntary (ff. 41v-40v)
22 Voluntary (ff. 40r-39r)
23 Voluntary (ff. 38v-37v) John Maynard
24 Voluntary (f. 37r) Benjamin Rogers
25 Voluntary (ff. 36v-35v)
26 A Voluntary (ff. 34v-33v)
27 A Voluntary (ff. 33r-32r) [Thomas Weelkes]
28 A Voluntary (ff. 31v-30v) [Thomas Weelkes]
29 Fantazia (ff. 30r-25v) William Byrd
30 Fancie [incomplete] (f. 25r) William Byrd
End of contents of RCM MS 2093
These dances, from a lyra-viol and keyboard manuscript in the Surrey History Centre, Woking and the well-known keyboard publications Melothesia and Musicks Hand-maide, complement the contents of RCM MS 2093 and are played on the Barton harpsichord.
Gerhard Diesineer (born c1640-died after 1683), Suite in G (Surrey History Centre, Woking, LM/1083/91/35)
30. 'An Allman'
See Cunningham, J., & Woolley, A. (2010). 'A Little-Known Source of Restoration Lyra-Viol and Keyboard Music: Surrey History Centre, Woking, LM/1083/91/35'. Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 43, 1-22. doi:10.1080/14723808.2010.10541029.
Diesineer Suite in G from LM/1083/91/35 is reproduced by permission of Surrey History Centre
Gerhard Diesineer, Suite in C (Melothesia, 1673, pp. 68-67, nos. 58 and 59)
A Jigg (Musicks Hand-maide)
The contents of RCM MS 2093 were recorded by Terence Charlston on the virginal by Stephen Keene, London, 1668. Strung in Iron at high pitch (A=470Hz).
The pieces by Diesineer and Moss were recorded by Terence Charlston on the harpsichord by Thomas Barton, London, 1709. Strung in Brass (A=415Hz).
Both instruments belong to the University of Edinburgh Museum of Musical Instruments and were used by kind permission. Recorded on 7th and 8th December, 2012 by Kevin Hay in the St Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh. Tuned in 1/4-comma mean-tone by John Raymond. Digital editing and final master by Ben Wiffen, RCM Studios.
Locke, Matthew. Melothesia: or, Certain general rules for playing upon a continued-bass with a choice collection of lessons for the harpsicord and organ of all sorts: never before published...(London: J. Carr, 1673)
Playford, John. Musicks Hand-maide, Presenting New and Pleasant Lessons for the Virginals or Harpsycon (London: J. Playford, 1663).
Cunningham, J., & Woolley, A. (2010). 'A Little-Known Source of Restoration Lyra-Viol and Keyboard Music: Surrey History Centre, Woking, LM/1083/91/35'. Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 43, 1-22. doi:10.1080/14723808.2010.10541029.
English keyboard music c.1650-c.1700: a series of facsimiles of manuscript sources, volume 1: London, Royal College of Music library, MS 2093. Edited by Heather Windram and Terence Charlston with an introductory essay by Andrew Woolley and a foreword by Colin Lawson (Oslo: Norsk Musikforlag A/S, 2015).
Norsk Musikforlag A/S
Edinburgh University Musical Instrument Collection
Royal College of Music, London Collections
Royal College of Music, London Research Online
Early Keyboard Music c.1650-1700
This version uploaded: 20 April 2020