Performing music from the popular repertory of the Middle Ages poses a number of problems. Scholars can now decipher much of the notation, but, in many cases the satisfactory realisation of the music has to rely on knowledgeable conjecture, especially in respect of the rhythmic values of the notes. Decorations, embellishments and additional parts have to be inserted and, above all, a convincing vocal and instrumental stylistic framework has to be evolved.
Instruments often impose their own character on the phrasing and articulation by virtue of the playing techniques involved, but the very flexibility of the human voice and its ready adaption to the standards of every culture and age makes the production of an "authentic" vocal style for medieval music particularly difficult. Even today with worldwide communications, different places and cultures have very different ideas of what constitutes "beautiful" singing.
In order to tackle this problem, St. George's Canzona have taken a number of factors into account. These include the written descriptions and treatises of the Middle Ages, the character and compass of the music itself, ethnic survivals - especially where music still plays a similar part in peoples lives as it did in ancient times, the characteristic phrasing and timbre of the instruments with which the voices have to combine and, most important, the performing qualities and temperament of the sigers themselves.
© John Sothcott 1985