An inlaid table, as you’ve never heard it before…

On 13th April 2013, visitors to the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall were in for a surpise…

‘Les Canards Chantants’, a talented quartet currently based in York, delighted visitors by singing ‘live’ from the Eglantine table, which is delicately inlaid with wooden sheet music. Visitors were amazed to ‘hear’ the table – some demanded an encore, and others wanted to know if the Canards could get a regular gig!

For me, it was a revelatory experience. I was worried that the sound of the quartet would get lost in this immense room. Instead, their voices filled the space – an effect helped by the famous Hardwick rush floors, and the tapestries which drape most walls, creating a rich acoustic environment. When Bess of Hardwick entertained her most important guests in this room, singing would almost certainly have been part of the evening’s events – and we now know just how rich and vibrant the sound would have been. Scholars have long believed that the sheet music is ‘real’, but this is the first time it has been fully transcribed, edited, and sung in the High Great Chamber.

Hardwick is a house which celebrates music in a variety of ways, from the lovely virginal which is now in the Dining Room, to the alabaster overmantel which was originally made for Chatsworth but is now installed in the Withdrawing Chamber at Hardwick.

Alabaster overmantel, Withdrawing Chamber

(c) National Trust

Though their costumes are classical, Apollo and the nine muses play Elizabethan instruments, and the quartet of singers cluster around part-books, reminding us how sociable and inter-active music-making was in Bess’s day.

About these ads

2 thoughts on “An inlaid table, as you’ve never heard it before…

  1. Pingback: Carnivalesque 94: No bishop, no king | the many-headed monster

  2. Pingback: An Interview with Jan Garside | Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe

We are keen to hear your views on what we post here. Questions and comments are very welcome. And if there's something you think we should write about, leave a comment or send us an email (conversionnarratives@york.ac.uk).

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s