Nigel North - Ask Me Anything about Renaissance and Baroque Music!
We welcome Nigel North to answer YOUR questions right here in the community! Being “perhaps one of the greatest performers on the instrument of all time” (Birmingham Post), we are thrilled to invite Nigel for an AMA about Rennaisance and Baroque Music! Nigel’s releases count among iconic music recordings from this era and made him one of Britain’s Classic FM magazine’s top 100 greatest artists!
Check out Nigel’s exclusive tonebase releases here:
How to Participate
- Ask your questions right here until September 2nd!
- Nigel will answer questions from September 5th - 9th!
Hello Nigel! I am a huge fan! Recently, I have been listening to some of your recordings and performances of Francesco da Milano on YouTube and I simply cannot get enough of it.
I am an amateur guitarist for 30+ years, but last Christmas, my family completely surprised me and bought me a student lute (8-course, Renaissance). It's not a great instrument, I know, but I was blown away by their generosity.
My question for you is this: If I want to play the lute simply as an amateur for my own enjoyment, how vital do you think it is for me to cut my nails and learn proper lute technique? I really cannot afford lessons at this point, and I am having a very difficult time learning the correct technique on my own (from YouTube videos and a book I have by Rob MacKillop). Maybe I don't have enough patience, but I just find it so hard to play with my right hand like lutenists do. I find it so much more enjoyable simply to play it the way I am used to playing the guitar. When I do so, I am able to play quite a bit of music.
With great fear and trembling, I have attached a video of me playing a fantasia of da Milano. I do so not to boast of my playing at all, but more just to show you how I have been playing the instrument. Should I stop playing it like this? Any thoughts you have would be very appreciated!
I am both a guitarist, as well as a composer of contemporary classical music, and I have the following question for you:
A great many composers of the 20th & 21st century have been influenced by Medieval European music, especially the music of the Ars Antiqua and Ars Nova. What I encounter far less often, however (with the possible exception of Bach), are contemporary composers who's practice draws heavily from the late Renaissance and Baroque periods. Having performed this music with great skill, knowledge, and passion, what do you think modern composers could stand to learn most from the music and performance practices of the late Renaissance and Baroque? What are the qualities you think are the most overlooked and under-appreciated and that you would be most excited to see re-integrated into contemporary music practices?
Wishing you all the very best,
P.S.: Not in a million years would I ever expect you to remember me, but I actually took a one-on-one lesson with you at the International Guitar Festival in Bath almost 30 years ago... perhaps 1996? I was 16 or 17 at the time and thought the world of you and I'm happy to say that at 43 I'm still a huge fan! I myself hardly remember much of our brief encounter except that the lesson room was a gorgeous and spacious old room with lots of ornate woodworking, and that you were kind to me and that I felt safe in your presence. I doubt I ever thanked you at the time—teenagers, right? :)—so let me thank you now, 30 years later, for your kindness, your gentle demeanor, and your compassionate and inspiring instruction.
Hi Nigel! Another longtime fan here, and like Eric, an amateur who plays both lute and modern guitar. My question concerns what I regard as a lacuna in the recorded lute repertoire: the music of the early French baroque - I am thinking especially of Rene Mesangeau and Pierre Gaultier, both fine composers. But the whole world of the ‘accords nouveaux’ seems unjustly neglected. (Sigrun Richter is of course a note-worthy exception here.) If you agree with my observation, what do you think might account for this modern ‘oversight’?
Hi Nigel! Happy to talk to you. I think you are a great and serious reference for early music.
I also come from the guitar world. I have a doubt about what kind of strings I should use: I have tried everything on lute and vihuela and my conclusion is that for the chanterelle it is better not to use gut strings as they have little stability and the sound of the gut on the 1st string at least does not differ of other more stable types of rope such as nylgut or nylon. What do you think about it? What strings do you use? Thanks in advance / Ferran
Hello Nigel, What things should a guitarist consider when playing music of Bach, let's say, compared to playing music of the romantic period? Many of us modern amateur guitarists are intimidated by the thought of playing music of Bach "properly".
Your guidelines for the basics would be highly appreciated.