Shop FAQs

What do you mean by S, M, A, and T in your tags?

S=soprano; M=soprano 2/mezzo; A=alto; T=alto 2/tenor. Sixteenth-century singers seem to have had a more relaxed attitude to range than twenty-first-century choral practice might allow, particularly towards the lower end of the voice. You’ll see in some of the harder works that sopranos have to sing below middle C, and altos might need to very low indeed (usually those parts will be marked “T”). But that’s all part of the fun! And while we try to keep works within F-below-middle-C to G-above-the-treble-staff, sometimes notes either side sneak in. You can see the ranges of individual voices in the product thumbnails.

What if my altos can’t sing that low?

You can always put an instrument on any part in a motet – this is standard sixteenth-century practice, and no one here is going to peer over their glasses at you. We provide viol parts (mostly in alto clef) for most works in the store. Also, it was very on trend in the sixteenth century to have more female voices on the lower parts to help them carry. It’s not a defeat, there is strength in numbers.

We really want to sing this piece in another key. Can you make bespoke transpositions?

Yes, of course we can, for a reasonable charge based on how much work is involved. Please get in touch with your requirements.

Can you make additional instrumental parts / single-voice MIDI rehearsal files?

Yes, we can – again for a reasonable charge based on the amount of work.

What is the organ sound in the audio files?

The organ sound is the Renaissance organ from the Garritan Classic Organs collection. MUCH nicer than general MIDI.

What are the symbols at the beginning of each piece?

The bar before the bracket at the beginning is called the “incipit” – it gives you information about the original clef, “key,” and note values.

Why do you put accidentals over notes instead of in front of them?

Accidentals over the notes at cadences, or making perfect fourths, are mostly musica ficta (false music) – singers would have known to make these adjustments without having them on the page. They are over the notes to signal that they are editorial, not in the original.

What do the brackets over the notes mean?

The brackets indicate specific kinds of older notation that have been modernised – so that singers understand a bit more about choices in phrasing and underlay. The solid brackets indicate a ligature – which often appears to indicate that no breaks in syllables should take place; the dashed brackets indicate coloration.

Why don’t you halve the note values to make the music look more like “normal” music?

We think there is something special about singing from the original note values – it helps us get into a different mindset and reminds us that singing sixteenth-century polyphony is not even like singing polyphony by Bach. It might feel like a challenge at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

What’s the relationship between duple and triple time signatures?

Always a good question, never a completely precise answer. Strictly, the tactus (the value of the whole bar, whether that’s the breve or a dotted breve) should stay the same, so you are either dividing that basic beat into two or three. In practice, you might want to make the triple sections slightly faster or slower.

On the other hand, sixteenth-century composers sometimes create the impression of triple time simply by writing in that rhythm, regardless of the “time signature.” Look out for those sections – the word stresses will tell you where they are. Also, they are not always the same in all the voices, and they are not always aligned. Each voice needs to be responsible for its own word stresses.

Why is there a blank page at the beginning of my score?

Scores are optimised for double-sided printing, minimising page turns, especially for the instruments (except for scores of one or two pages, those should be printed on single pages if you want to avoid page turns.)

How long are the pieces in the store?

We have given an indication of length in minutes in the product description. These are the timings of the backing tracks, but obviously lengths will vary depending on how quickly or slowly you perform them!

How can I make the backing track go faster/slower?

There are various software programmes available online that will adjust tempo without affecting pitch (although there might be some degradation in sound quality). Audacity is well known and trusted, and free:
For advice on tempo changes: