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Incomplete list of instrumentally performed Renaissance music recordings

I’m very interested in instrumentally performed Renaissance music, and I very much enjoy listening to it. But it’s not that easy to find recordings of that musical era without singers. (This is not really true, as there is a vast amount of solo lute/organ/harpsichord recordings. Which is why they are being omitted, sorry!) So, here you find this incomplete list (work in progress) of instrumentally performed Renaissance music recordings. I only include albums that are dedicated to Renaissance music exclusively.

Please let me know of the recordings that are not yet on the list, in the comment section below. I’ll be very happy to get to know them and add them to the list! 🙂

The list is sorted after the type of instrumentation and inside that, alphabetically. Album titles are linked to Spotify.

Varied Instruments

Lute Duos

Solo Viol or Viol & Organ/Harpsichord/Plucked Strings

Solo Harp

Training like a Renaissance musician would do it Part I — The Beginning

In February/March 2021 I took an online course on Solmization, modes and psalmody, led by Isaac Alonso de Molina and organized by Escuela de Polifonía Opera Omnia. It was great! I participated because I had learned before what solmization is but not to actually do it. Studying at the conservatory I was really busy playing my flute many hours of the day, but of course I didn’t practice with the background of those Renaissance musicians. I want to be able to hear and play early music a bit more with their ears and thus, in the end, to be more creative and confident on ornamenting and improvising and to make this music more my own.

The last months I felt a bit lost about how to approach my music practice, apart from playing scales, pieces and diminutions of intervals from treatises. I found the solution thanks to the course. I’m going to take all the steps that a Renaissance musician probably would have taken in his musical training, starting from the very beginning. Since Silvestro Ganassi (1492-1565) is dead, I will be my own maestra for now, following the steps pointed out in the online course.

First step: The Guidonian Hand

I’ll let you know on the blog how my singing-while-pointing-to-my-hand is going 🙂

The Imperfect Pearl — a new project

I’m very happy to present a new project: The Imperfect Pearl. Next to Isidro Albarreal (baroque violin), Inés Salinas (viola da gamba) and Gabriele Levi, (harpsichord) I founded a new Early Music Ensemble focussed on baroque music of the 18th and 17th century. Have a listen:

What is it about?

The term ‘baroque’ (=imperfect pearl) was once an used in a negative way: ‘baroque music is that in which the harmony is loaded with modulations and dissonances…’ or ‘bizarre and uselessly complicated’. These qualities that were once criticized are the ones in which we find the beauty of this music. A perfect pearl astonishes by its uniformity, smoothness and symmetry, but, for how long is it interesting to watch, and will there always be something new to discover in it? On the contrary, the changing surface and irregularity of an imperfect pearl mesmerizes us with its many faces and possibilities, as does baroque music. Asymmetry, variation, and irregularity are not negative qualities for us, but intriguing concepts where we find personality, emotions, and discovery.

You can find us on theimperfectpearl.com, Instagram and facebook 🙂

Musick’s Recreation at Fora do Lugar — Festival Internacional de Músicas Antigas 2017

Photo credits: Filipe Faria/Arte das Musas 2017

Milena Cord-to-Krax | recorder
Alexander Nicholls | baroque cello
César Queruz | theorbo

Last November 25th we premiered our new program on 17th c. Italian music at Fora do Lugar — Festival Internacional de Músicas Antigas in Portugal. Thanks so much to the wonderful team and audience, we had a great, and as well, very culinary experience 😉

Historically Informed Creativity — subcategory to HIP

I‘d like to introduce a subcategory to Historically Informed Perfomance Practice (HIP): Historically Informed Creativity (HIC).

Detail from S. Ganassi’s Opera Intitulata Fontegara (1535) — the first known treatise on diminution.

The creative aspects for musicians from the early music epochs (Middle ages, Renaissance, Baroque) included improvising, diminuting, ornamenting, arranging and composing. Studying the mentioned parts of music making from the original treatises, and thus obtaining knowledge on style, harmony– and counterpoint rules and respecting them, allows the early musician to create himself, but without abandoning HIP and without entering the world of music fusion.

The active creative part of early music deserves a specific name, as it is a specific subject, and a growing part of the early-music-world-habits.

A few examples of HIC:

Orí Harmelin

Alla Bastarda
Karel van Steenhoven

Christoph Ehrsam
& Attilio Cremonesi (min 12:30)

Elam Rotem — Profeti della Quinta

Vicente Parrilla & Miguel Rincón

Musick’s Recreation

Vox Tremula

I want to play!

I don’t live in the right place (Seville, in the very south of Spain), I know that, but where should I go?
There are many very good early music professionals in Seville, but I’m missing professional players my age who want to play, play and play! Who want to rehearse for the sake of playing, of getting better, of working on projects as a group (I think, sometimes, collective intelligence ends up in a deeper and more interesting result than one working on his own).

I want to go out for some beers and talk with friends about the music from, for example, the Odhecaton. Where are viol and lute players who, apart from Marais and Kapsberger, are in love with music by Rogniono, Agricola, Ghiselin or Cabezón? The easy answer for this one could be Basel, but Basel is incredibly expensive.

I want to go to early music concerts, as many as I can. Where is early music alive, or as alive as possible?

Where are young early music professionals who are fighting to make a living playing music, who don’t mind playing one day in a concert hall, and another day in a bar or restaurant?

I don’t know where to move. Help?

Music scores to The Begger Boy — 9 variations by M. Cord-to-Krax

I found the pretty melody of The Begger Boy in John Playford’s The Dancing Master (1651). It is a very short melody and dancers and musicians would have gone crazy if they played it the same way round and round. Here must have come into play variations/improvisations — for sure.


So I decided to convert it into a trio, to add tenor and bass lines, counterpoints and variations on the melody. When I did this, I first thought of my recorder consort Vox Tremula, but it does work just as well for a melody instrument and a polyphonic instrument etc.

Please feel free to download and share these music scores!

J. Playford & M. Cord-to-Krax — The Begger Boy: Facsimile (706 downloads ) , My Variations (858 downloads )

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

For more free music scores, click here!

I’m a professional freelance recorder player, so if you enjoy and use these music scores — please consider inviting me on a coffee 😉


Listen to the piece:

J. Playford & M. Cord-to-Krax — The Begger Boy

Vox Tremula: Milena Cord-to-Krax, Elena Escartín & Gonzalo Llao, recorders
David Ruiz, percussion

Why did I publish my recording online with a CC license? Copyright vs Copyleft!

When a recording gets published by a a record label, they reserve all the rights on that recording — to them. In most of the cases you got to pay for the recording (a lot), you studied, practiced and rehearsed the music, it was your idea, your project. Then you probably have to buy the CD’s yourself (at a little cost but still) in order to sell them at your concerts or send them to festival/concert organizers. Supposedly the good part is, that people get to know you, they will listen to you, because you appear in the catalogue of new publications etc. But does that really happen? I mean, on a big scale? Maybe it does, if you get published by a big label like, let’s say Harmonia Mundi, but that again will probably not happen until you’re 40 and famous, and if you get there, then you might not need that publicity anymore, as you could have build an audience that follows your activities, especially if you use internet.

All rights reserved — Frits Ahlefeld

All rights reserved — Frits Ahlefeld

Anyway, what you want to happen to your recording is that it gets heard, right? The more, the better! So, what you should want people to do, is to share it, show it to their friends, recommend it, copy it. Maybe someone even likes your recording so much, that she/he wants to use it for their own artwork, a short film, exposition etc. Would you like that? Probably yes, because it means that your music means something to someone, that it is useful, it can make another creative work more beautiful or interesting, and your music gets to a wider audience. All this is not allowed under a traditional “all rights reserved” license, it will normally have a cost (which many people aren’t able to pay) and a need for permission. The very fact of having to ask for permission will take away people’s initiative in the very first place. Copyleft solves this problem: “Copyleft is a strategy of utilizing copyright law to pursue the policy goal of fostering and encouraging the equal and inalienable right to copy, share, modify and improve creative works of authorship.”copyleft.org
Of course you will not get a copyleft license on your recording if you get published by a record label.

Copyleft by  Faulkner16

Copyleft by Faulkner16

Now some people may say that your music is your work, and you really should not give it away for free. But, have you ever asked a well established musician how much they earn on royalties? When did you buy a CD the last time? There’s always exceptions but they just prove the rule. People do not want to pay anymore to listen to recordings. But, if they listened to you because it was easy and free, and they liked it, they might buy a ticket to your concert, which is where musicians do earn money. And after that concert, only then, if you played really well, they might want to buy the physical CD as a memory of that concert.

You could also think that all of this sounds very nice, but the wide audience of, in my case, Early Music does not use internet in that way, and that Festival Directors rely on musicians with traditional careers —Publications in important record labels, winners of music competitions, your photo on the front page of a music magazine (for which you probably had to pay) etc etc. But traditions and audiences change and the future of record labels is uncertain.

I leave you with a TEDx Talk by Nina Paley: Copyright is brain damage.