From our award-winning Leonardo da Vinci program, the Florentine Carnival song Canto di lanzi sonatori di rubechine. Live, 4K ultra high definition video performed by Voices of Music, Hanneke van Proosdij & David Tayler, directors. Vocal soloists: Stefanie True and Deborah Rentz-Moore.
The canti carnascialeschi or Carnival songs flourished under the Medicis, in particular Lorenzo the Magnificent in the late 15th century. Lorenzo actively promoted the form, and even wrote his own verses, then required members of his court and entourage to perform them. Lorenzo often chose stories drawn from classical mythology; in contrast, the songs performed in the streets (presumably this example) were satirical, rowdy, and replete with double entendre and innuendo. After Lorenzo’s death, the radical friar Savanarola largely eradicated both the music and the musical instruments in his bonfires of the vanities, although the festivals were revived in 1498. The Canto di Lanzi is anonymous, as are most examples of the genre, but would have been familiar to Leonardo in the streets and courts of Florence, along with the related form, the frottola.
The music is from our Leonardo da Vinci program. We sourced manuscripts and prints from the cities, courts and places that Leonardo lived in and travelled to from c.1452-1519. The program, “A musical Odyssey” is tied together with a narration. In some cases, we have historical records that the music was performed at an event that da Vinci planned or attended. This program won the 2017-2018 San Francisco Classical Voice “Best of the Bay” award for “Best Chamber Music” concert.
Canto di lanzi sonatori di rubechine
Buon maestre rubechine
Queste lanzi tutte stare:
Chi ascolte suo sonare
Un dolceze par divine.
Queste poche istromentuze
Dar dilette et gran sollaze,
Tutte cuor salte et galluzze
Chi ‘l tener sonande in braze.
Ma se star gran rubechaze,
Non può far bel calatine.
Per pigliar dolce conforte
habbiàn qui nostre marite,
et sonande forte forte,
sappiàn far belle stanpite:
non afer ma’ più sentite
si ghalante coselline.
Tutte sempre in ogni loche
lanzi star liete et galante,
et con gaudio, festa et guoche
salte, suone, balle et cante:
chè ’1 ben nostre tutte quante
stare in queste cotaline.
Quando è poi cordate bene,
caze in pugne quest’archette;
su et giù diguaze et mene,
taste destre et toche nette:
chi più ingegne drente mette
piu dolceze sente infine.
Song of the tiny-fiddle-playing soldiers
These good masters of tiny fiddles
These Lanzi stay firm
To those who hear their playing
The sweetness seems divine
These pocket sized instruments
Give delight and great comfort
All hearts jump and become lively
Of those who hold them in their arms to play them
But if they are bass fiddles
They can’t make beautiful calatine (music with a fast tempo).
To take sweet comfort
We have our husbands here
And playing loudly, loudly
We know how to make beautiful dance music
You have never heard
Such gallant/romantic little things.
Always and in every place
All the Lanzi are happy and romantic/gallant
With joy, celebration, and games
Jumping, music, dances, and songs:
Because the contentment that fills all of us
Is found in this little jewel case.
When the fiddle is well-strung
Take this little bow in hand
Pull and push it up and down
Play/touch dexterously and play cleanly
He who puts the most talent into it
Will feel the most sweetness at the end.
Translation by Cynthia Craig Simon & David Tayler, with Lawrence Rosenwald.