Paul’s Steeple, from John Playford’s Division Violin (London, 1685). HD Video from the Voices of Music Great Artists Concert, February, 2014. Featuring Hanneke van Proosdij, recorder; Peter Maund, percussion; Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba, and David Tayler, baroque guitar.
Playford’s Division Violin contains many of the popular tunes of the 17th century, and the musicians are provided with a set of variations over a simple, repeating bass line or “ground bass”–it was left to the performers to arrange the music to taste. Paul’s Steeple refers to the towering spire of old St. Paul’s in London; the tower had burned down before Playford’s time, but was still celebrated in song, just as with the “London Bridge.”