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Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website

GUEST,KP 07 Nov 08 - 04:43 AM
GUEST, Sminky 07 Nov 08 - 05:08 AM
Nigel Parsons 07 Nov 08 - 06:15 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Nov 08 - 06:18 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Nov 08 - 06:29 AM
evansakes 07 Nov 08 - 07:15 AM
Sugwash 07 Nov 08 - 07:28 AM
evansakes 07 Nov 08 - 07:59 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Nov 08 - 09:54 AM
Will Fly 07 Nov 08 - 03:42 PM
Don Firth 07 Nov 08 - 05:47 PM
Bernard 07 Nov 08 - 07:47 PM
Nerd 07 Nov 08 - 08:30 PM
GUEST,grumpygit 07 Nov 08 - 11:30 PM
GUEST,caitlín 08 Nov 08 - 04:25 AM
GUEST,Ed 08 Nov 08 - 04:35 AM
Don Firth 08 Nov 08 - 03:40 PM
Dave Hanson 28 May 17 - 02:57 AM
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Subject: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 04:43 AM

BBC website has some clips of Sting talking about and playing the Lute. One part of the discussion made me blink - was John Dowland the first singer-songwriter? Interested to hear some more expert views on what he's saying. I note the lutes in question have a lot of non-fretted sympathetic strings. My mental picture of a lute (from Julian Bream etc) is a much smaller instrument.

Of course its clearly not England's national instrument as it originates from the Middle East....

Sting playing/discussing the Lute

KP


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 05:08 AM

Mr Sumner needs to look in his history book under 'minstrel'. He'll find that they pre-date Dowland by several centuries.

I have to say I find his (Sting's) lute playing distinctly underwhelming.


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 06:15 AM

I have to say I find his (Sting's) lute playing distinctly underwhelming.
Reminds me of Johnson's remark on hearing of a woman preaching:
Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 06:18 AM

He should have made it clear that the instrument he was playing is not a Renaissance lute but a theorbo, a later incarnation of the lute which is associated with the baroque period. Dowland would not have had all those open diapason strings, so - fun as those big bass notes are - it's anachronistic. I enjoyed his playing - OK it wasn't Bream, but who expects it to be? It takes years to build up that sort of virtuosity, and I thought it not bad for a newbie. Lutes are a lot harder to play than guitar, and it was enjoyable to listen to if you take it for what it was - an example to give the unfamiliar viewer a taste.

His history is certainly a bit sloppy - troubadours were not wandering players & singers; minstrels were, but as Sminky has already pointed out, they existed long before Dowland. And if one is going to describe Dowland in modern terms, surely he qualifies as player-composer before songwriter. Dunno if he sang or not - voice & instrument were often duo efforts.

The only thing that bothered me - and it REALLY TRULY did - was that he kept putting his oily fingers all over that centuries-old book, and then compounded the insult by running his hand continually across the page, and generally touching it with too much force. Someone needs to tell him how to handle antique pages because that sort of treatment is life-shortening. So is too much light, so I hope he doesn't leave the book sitting out on display by a sunny window. I don't know if that is his own copy (he's rich enough to afford it) but I really wish he would learn how to treat and care for it. Hasn't he noticed how museum curators and historical librarians always use special gloves? That ought to give him a clue.

But full marks for his enthusiasm and for stepping outside the safe box. He'll turn more people on to the lute and Dowland's magnificent work than a zillion musicologists ever can.


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 06:29 AM

PS: In fairness to him, I have to add that I do like his handling of the songs. It's a good contrast to the overly "classical" approach, and I think he has a good voice for that sort of material. I love Whyte Lillie and Can Shee Excuse which is only marred by the occasional explosively "pop-singer" vowel. But it's great to hear other types of artists tackle lute songs. (He should also take a look at some of the medieval songs while he's in early-music mode.) Overall I think his input has been beneficial and nourishing to the genre.


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: evansakes
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 07:15 AM

Is there no limit to how pompous this man can get?

Oh Sting....where is thy death?


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Sugwash
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 07:28 AM

Pompous? I've just watched the clip again and failed to detect any pomposity, just an entusiast enthusing. I'm sure he didn't set out to give a definitive history of the lute, just a personal insight.

I agree with Bonnie Shaljean, it was an enjoyable clip.


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: evansakes
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 07:59 AM

OK....maybe pompous was the wrong word.

Please sustitute 'pretentious' and 'smug'!

For further proof see the video of 'Message In A Bottle' played on two lutes....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7714391.stm


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 09:54 AM

Sorry Twick, I really can't see how this performance warrants those adjectives. It's just a popular song with an interesting and unusual accompaniment. I liked it, you clearly didn't, but for the life of me I can't see any smugness or pretension in it. It's just a guy singing. He uses the instruments in a suitable manner, they're in tune and well played (Edin is a stunning lutenist, Sting certainly competent - theorbos aren't that easy to drive). What's so damning about that? A pop singer doing something different doesn't mean it's sententious, just different.


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 03:42 PM

I don't think Mr. Sumner was at all pretentious - he clearly recognised the limit and extent of his own abilities and came across to me as an enthusiastic musician who wanted to extend what he does. Good luck to the man - in the end, the quality of the music always tells. He appears to be learning the trade but has sufficient cash and clout to be able to devote his time to it. Lucky him - wish I could do that.

As to the old book, it doesn't necessarily follow that it needs to be treated with kid gloves ('scuse the pun) just because it's 17th century. Books from that period were usually made with with reasonable quality paper and binding. If an item is extremely rare or has very high quality printing and illustration, then gloves are appropriate. The book he was looking at - from the brief view we had of it - didn't appear to be of extraordinary quality. I have several books from the 16th and 15th centuries - the lay person might imagine them to have a high value because of this - but that's not necessarily true. I open mine up and look at them without gloves all the time, and there's no visible deterioration.

Ironically, modern books are more more likely to disintegrate in a very short time - made, as many of them are, from cheap paper that yellows easily, and with so-called "perfect" (i.e. glued) bindings that break apart!

Will (musician - also librarian)


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 05:47 PM

I've heard this sort of thing before, and for the life of me, I can't see any real reason for the animosity directed at Sting, other than a streak of pettiness.

He's made his pile as a rock musician and he's won just about every music award that's offered, including two doctorates in music from the Berkelee College of Music and he's been awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Not too shabby!

He's not just sitting on his heap of money and enjoying a life of indolence. He is maturing as a musician and as a person and he's investigating other areas of music.

He's written and sung a number of pretty good songs. His singing voice is not particularly out of the ordinary, but it's certainly pleasant and listenable.

I recently saw him in a film-clip of the Classic Arts Showcase channel in which he is performing a piece by J. S. Bach on the guitar as an accompaniment to a ballerina dancing. Granted, he's no Segovia or John Williams, but he certainly did an adequate job of the piece.

And his recent ventures into playing the lute further demonstrate that he is not content to rest on his many laurels, but is pressing onward and exploring fields that are new to him. More power to him, say I!

A couple of points: First, on the BBC program linked to above, he is playing a theorbo. But I have seen clips of him playing a couple of different instruments, including a Renaissance lute. And second, the early troubadours were lyric poets and musicians mainly from southern France. Similar poet-musicians were the trouvères in northern France. The words in the British Isles were minstrel and bard, depending on location. Minnesingers in Germany. Other terms were scop and gleeman. They all did essentially the same kind of thing. Some had regular employment with some lord or nobleman, while others took to the roads, singing in village squares and taverns. "Wandering minstrel" or "wandering troubadour." Although "minstrel" is associated with England and "troubadour" is associated with France, they were essentially the same.

I find this kind of gratuitous sniping at Sting strikes me as nothing more than sour grapes.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Bernard
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 07:47 PM

The man is enthusiatic about something he finds fascinating. He chooses to share that with us. So shurrup and let him get on with it!!


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Nerd
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 08:30 PM

Don is not quite right. Although the popular image of the troubadour is of a wandering entertainer, such people were actually known as Joglars in Langue D'oc or Jongleurs in Langue D'oeil. In their own time, the people known as "troubadours" were primarily noblemen, ranging in status from Dukes to knights. Some of the later troubadours were artisan-class (eg. Bernart de Ventadorn, who seems to have been the son of a baker). But mostly, it was an aristocratic occupation.

Minstrels in England were more analogous to the jongleurs than to the troubadours.

I agree that there's certainly no harm in Sting trying his hand at this, and that the results are pleasant enough. He's an easy target, though!


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: GUEST,grumpygit
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 11:30 PM

..he can enjoy any vanity projects he likes [and can afford],
it don't bother me..
good luck to the bloke,
just as long as he doesn't start acting again


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 04:25 AM

Sting is one of the most interesting artists around, and boy doesn't he pay for it by catching every kind of flak. Just for daring to be different and go beyond the usual rock clichés. He's always had an intellectual turn of mind - remember the references to Jung? Calling someone put-down names just because they use influences from literature, history or (horrors) classical music is reverse snobbery of the worst kind.   

He's got talent, success and money - and the last two of those things have to be worked for, hard. He's used some of that money to establish the Rainforest Foundation to try and stop the wholesale destruction. He also supports a long list of other charities including Amnesty, foundations for breast cancer, AIDS, children with tumors and a whole raft of others. So suffering people benefit directly from his success. This is no idle dabbler.

More info here: http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/212-sting            

The last thing Sting can be called is pretentious or smug. Good on him - can't wait to see what he does next.


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 04:35 AM

The last thing Sting can be called is pretentious or smug.

LOL, they are about the first things that I'd say that he is.

Only my opinion, of course.

Ed


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 03:40 PM

Your are indeed correct, nerd, but if I was "not quite right," it is more because I was not quite complete in my brief dissertation. Had I been complete, it would have had to run several thousand words, as did the research paper I did on the subject a few years back. There were many classes of such poet-musicians. They were from almost all levels of society back then, and some traveled and some did not. Also the list of various names they were called (minstrel, troubadour, trouvère, jongleur, and on and on) is about as long as your leg, and the distinctions of any major significance between the designations were often minuscule.

Some of the earliest wandering poet-musicians (whatever one might want to call them) were young monks who decided to leave the monasteries and see some of the world before (or instead of) settling into a life of prayer and contemplation. This defection from the monasteries began around the ninth century and gradually accelerated. Some were "goliards" (often writing bawdy songs and peotry and mocking church rituals), others were one form or another of wandering poet-musicians.

Fascinating history. Too long to go into here. But one of several interesting books on the subject is Helen Waddell's The Wandering Scholars.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Sting Playing the Lute on BBC website
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 28 May 17 - 02:57 AM

His show ' When The Last Ship Sails ' was absolutely brilliant, one of the best things he's ever done, but he's still known as Saint Sting of Newcastle round here.

Dave H


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