Maynard's Almain

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    This is a very obscure piece of music, by a very obscure English renaissance composer. It is attributed to John Maynard (c. 1577 to after 1614). Oxford University Press has this to say about the composer and the piece:

    "Maynard, John

    (b St Albans, Herts., bap. 5 Jan 1577; d after 1614). English lutenist, composer and lyra viol player. In his XII Wonders of the World (London, 1611) he described himself as ‘Lutenist at the most famous Schoole of St Julians in Hartfordshire’. St Julians, originally built as a leper hospital, is just outside the old city of St Albans, in the parish of St Michael. No other record has come to light of its being a school, but the house was ‘in the occupation of John Maynard’ in 1613 and 1614. (...)

    Apart from The XII Wonders very little of Maynard’s music survives. An organ ‘Voluntary’ turns out to be a transcription of ‘The Maid’ from the songbook. ‘Maynard’s Almain’ in a collection of masque music (and actually a coranto) may well refer to the composer’s cousin, a courtier who danced in several Stuart masques.

    So, it's either by John Maynard or by his cousin, and in any case it's a coranto and not an almain. I'm glad we have that cleared up.

    This arrangement is a duet between a high and low voice, in a setting by Steven Hendricks at:

    Link to PDF sheet music

    I have played the high part in unison on my "Baroq-ulele" bowlback soprano ukulele/lute (retuned in fifths, GDAE) and my 1915 Luigi Embergher bowlback mandolin, and the low part on tenor guitar, also tuned GDAE.

  2. themelodist79
    That's a lovely tune, Martin.
    I'm really curious about your Baroq-ulele. Do you play it with a pick or fingerstyle? I can't find much on the web as far as its history. Do you happen to know more about it?


  3. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Hi Dario,

    the Baroq-uele is a slightly naff brand name for a modern instrument styled to resemble a renaissance lute but sold in the sizes and tunings of the modern ukulele. You can buy them in soprano, concert and tenor size (no baritone, unfortunately). Mine is a soprano, and as it has much the same scale length as a mandolin, I have retuned it in fifths, GDAE. In this setup, it's effectively the same as a 19th century Brescian (or Cremonese) mandolin, which was also a four-string gut-strung bowlback instrument. It's also very similar to the mandore, a 4- or 5-string 17th century soprano lute. So, I use it for lute music and it matches the sound pretty well. I play it with a pick, not with fingers, although I would probably be closer to the lute sound if I tried finger picking.

    I have posted a few more videos and photos of the Baroq-ulele in the classical forum in this thread:


  4. themelodist79
    Thanks Martin. It sounds like an interesting instrument to experiment with, especially if it's straightforward to tune as a mandolin...


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