Hume/Captain Humes Poeticall Music Vol 1
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Captain HumesPoeticall Musicke (1607)
Relatively little isknown of Tobias Hume. His date of birth has been inferred from his admission,in 1629, as a pensioner, to the Charterhouse, where regulations stipulated thatthose admitted should have reached the age of sixty, but the inference seemsopen to question. He published two collections of pieces for viols and songs, TheFirst Part of Ayres in 1605 and Captain Humes Poeticall Musicke in1607. His dedication of the first of these, to Lord William, Earle ofPembrooke, L. Herbert of Cardyf, L. Par and Rosse of Kendall, Lord Marmion, andS. Quintin, Lord Warden of the Stannaries, and Knight of the Most Noble Orderof the Garter, tells us something of him: My Life hath beene a Souldier,and my idleness addicted to Musiicke, of both which I here doe offer theservice to your best worthy selfe. His second collection is dedicated toQueen Anne, in an apparently desperate attempt to secure royal favour. Thethird Earl of Pembroke, identified by some as the Mr W.H. to whom Shakespeare'ssonnets are dedicated, was an important patron, but seems to have failed tooblige Captain Hume. In 1607 he offers this last hope of my labours, to yourmost princely acceptance, humbly imploring that, it would please yourthrice-royall spirit, not to esteeme my Songs unmusicall, because my Fortune isout of tune. This dedication again seems to have had no positive result.
From other sources, notably his application in 1611 to King Charles I forpermission to engage in a military expedition under the King of Sweden, arequest that was denied, it may be gathered that Hume had had varied experienceas a soldier, including in the service of the Swedish King, who now asked forhis return. The next documentary evidence of his life is found in hisapplication in 1629 to enter the Charterhouse as a 'poor brother'. In 1642,apparently in some distress, he seeks money from Parliament, describing himselfas a colonel and hoping to enter military service again, now, seemingly, nearlyseventy, in the expedition to suppress the rebels in Ireland. He died in 1645.
It will be gathered that the conjectural date of birth of 1569 offered by some,based on the supposition that he must have been sixty when he applied to enterthe Charterhouse in 1629, leads to gross improbabilities. Others have suggesteda date in the region of 1575 for his birth and this at least makes marginallymore credible his hope of renewed military service in 1642. Problems ofchronology lie in the fact that by 1605 he had already had experience,seemingly abroad, as a soldier, but then military life could start relativelyearly. The Charterhouse was not simply a home for pensioners, but also providedmilitary training for younger soldiers and one might guess that Hume had somepart to play in this latter activity, as an experienced officer, in spite ofthe described terms of his admission. Then again, rules of admission to theCharterhouse might have been waived in certain cases.
Hume claimsoriginality in his compositions. He is a particular champion of the viola dagamba over the lute, claiming for the former instrument the possibility ofproviding polyphony, expression and diminution or variation. His defence of theviol provoked Dowland into a reply, declaring the claims of Hume and otherslike him to be wrong. Hume emphasizes his own originality in his addresses tothe reader in both volumes. The Preface to the earlier publication reads asfollows:
To theunderstanding Reader
I Doe not studieEloquence, or professe Musicke, although I doe love Sence, and affect Harmony:My Profession being, as my Education hath beene, Armes, the onely effeminatepart of me, hath beene Musicke; which in mee hath beene alwayes Generous,because never Mercenarie. To prayse Musicke, were to say, the Sunne is bright.
To extoll my selfe, would name my labors vaine glorious. Onely this, my studiesare far from servile imitations, I robbe no others inventions, I take noItalian Note to an English dittie, or filch fragments of Songs to stuffe out myvolumes.
These are mine ownPhansies expressed by my proper Genius, which if thou dost dislike, let me seethine, Carpere vel noli nostra, vel ede tua, Now to use a modest shortnes, anda briefe expression of my selfe to all noble spirites, thus, My Titleexpresseth my Bookes Contents, which (if my Hopes faile me not) shall notdeceive their expectation, in whose approvement the crowne of my laborsresteth. And from henceforth, the statefull instrument Gambo Violl, shall withease yeelde full various and as devicefull Musicke as the Lute. For here Iprotest the Trinitie of Musicke, parts, Passion and Division, to be asgracefully united in the Gambo Violl, as in the most received Instrument thatis, which here with a Souldiers Resolution I give up to the acceptance of allnoble dispositions.
The friend of hisfriend,
If you will hearethe Viol de Gambo in his true Maiestie, to play parts, and singing thereto,then string him with nine stringes, your three Basses double as the Lute, whichis to be plaide on with as much ease as your Violl of sixe stringes.
It is clear from thispreface, and the very similar preface to the publication of 1607, that Hume issuggesting something that others may question. He stresses his own originality,while his praise of the viol at the expense of the popular lute, was bound tobring about a reaction, as it did from the lutenist-composer John Dowland. Theinstrument that Hume prefers is the so-called lyra-viol, or, at least, thetechnique of performing on a bass viol in the lyra-way, as the title ofPlayford's 1682 publication suggests: Musick's Recreation on the Viol,Lyra-way. The lyra-viol itself seems to have been a smaller form of bassviol, with certain other modifications and a wide variety of possible tunings.
The instrument or the method of performance, since it seems that music for thelyra-viol could also be played on the bass division viol, won great popularityin England during the seventeenth century. There were experiments at first withthe addition of sympathetic strings, but these did not lead to any lastingchange in the instrument. If the bow was not used, it was possible to use thelyra-viol as a plucked instrument, and the practice of plucking an open stringwith the left hand, while bowing with the right, as on the later baryton, wasused. Hume's publication of 1605 is a very early source for the practice ofplucking the strings and for the use of the wood of the bow in col legno, althoughhe makes no use of the later practice of the thump, the plucking of astring with the left hand while bowing.
Captain HumesPoeticall Musicke carries onits title-page a list of the contents. The collection is of music Principallymade for two Basse-Viols, yet so contrived, that it may be plaied 8, severallwaies upon sundry Instruments with much facilitie. The eight ways are forone bass viol in parts, for two bass viols, for three bass viols, for two tenorviols and a bass, for two lutes and a bass viol, for two orpharions (a form oflute) and bass viol, for the voice with three bass viols or two orpharions andone bass viol, and finally the possibility of using all the instrumentstogether, with virginals or with wind instruments and voice. The music of eachpublication is, for the most part, in tablature, the system of instrumentalnotation that used the six lines of the stave to represent the strings of theviol and letters to show the fret to be stopped. The first collection includes117 pieces, 104 of which are for solo viol, and