Following my April fools roundup, Nicolas Robertson (creator of the outstanding Anagram tales) fondly recalls a spoof on the Third Programme of BBC Radio, first broadcast in 1968:
The authentically po-voiced announcer’s introduction to the organological details of shagbut, minikin (played by Tatiana Splod), and Flemish clacket recall the mountweazel and the spoof entries of the New Grove dictionary of music and musicians.
Recreating early music does indeed require the modern musician to learn many unfamiliar techniques—a challenge that the pioneers of the movement were not always able to meet. These instruments have been obsolete since the early 16th century, “and of course there are those who hold the view that it would have been rather better if they had remained so”.
After tortuous preparation, eventually—and perhaps regrettably—the Schola Polyphonica Neasdeniensis is (almost) ready to perform the newly-discovered Haro! Poppzgeyen ist das Wieselungslied by Hucbald the Onelegged of Grobhausen. The YouTube illustration of Bosch is aptly chosen.
We apologise to listeners for the technical hitches in the performance. These were partly due to the fact that Mr Turvey and the Schola Polyphonica got stuck in the lift, actually…
Early music has provided a rich source of humour; from this index of WAM drôlerie, see e.g. Mein Gott, A Bach mondegreen, Early music put in its place, The Mary Celeste, and A music critic.
I haven’t yet succeeded in finding the audio for another Radio 3 programme, first broadcast on April Fools Day:
Extensive as the BBC Sounds archive is, this is a lacuna that begs to be filled, like Compton Mackenzie’s talk on his meeting with Henry James.
One thought on “The shagbut, minikin, and Flemish clacket”
I remember the last moments of ‘Episode by Eisberg’ – the theme has finally (after some seconds, and a congratulatory first) descended over the bridge and into the bar – Patricia Hughes (if it was she) tells us,” ‘Episode by Eisberg’ is violent, passionate, and played on this record by Eileen Diss
By the way, Anthony Hopkins’ talk was on Vladimir Chestikoff
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