Farnaby arr. Howarth - The Old Spagnoletta

from Fancies, Toyes and Dreames, edited and arranged by Elgar Howarth

The Old Spagnoletta

The New Sa-hoo

These are both brilliant keyboard pieces in the composer's original version, and they make brilliant music for brass. 'Spagnoletta' was the name of a dance piece that came from Italy and was presumably thought to have something Spanish about it. The dum-di-dum, dum-di-dum rhythm was very popular at the time, and tells you something about what people looked like dancing it.
The other piece, with its strange title, is also a dance, maybe done a little differently.

Giles Farnaby (around 1563-1640)

Farnaby was a professional musician and also a joiner, following his father in that trade. He could therefore have made the keyboard instruments for which he composed: 'virginals', these were called, and they had the strings mechanically plucked, not hammered, as in the piano. For most of his life Farnaby lived in London. Maybe he went to the theatre and saw plays by someone almost exactly his own age: William Shakespeare. We don't honestly know much about him, which is often the case with musicians-or playwrights-from these times. He wrote songs, and some musical settings of the psalms, but is best remembered for his keyboard pieces, fifty-one of which were copied out by another musician, Francis Tregian, in a big collection of keyboard music known as the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, because it belongs to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.