Splash FM Website of the Day, 1st August 2005. Be Impressed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sherwood Consort – Sumer Is Icumen In.

I can’t pretend it’s a smooth transition between Mmmbop and medieval British music but there is a link. Medieval church songs often included a line in English followed by a line in Latin. The Latin was incomprehensible to the average member of the congregation and taken to be gibberish. This idea was adapted by singers of folk songs as a way of expressing the inexpressible, which usually meant it was used euphemistically, hence much ‘fa-la-lanky-down-dilly’-ing. This tradition of nonsense lyrics has carried on throughout pop music and reached its undoubted peak with Hanson.

Sumer Is Icumen In is from a mid-thirteenth century manuscript (see it here) and is one of the few surviving songs of the period. The lyrics seem to be simply celebrating spring but it has been suggested that there is a less wholesome subtext with the cuckoo symbolizing infidelity. You can read a translation of the lyrics here and make up your own mind.

The Sherwood Consort are essentially a Medieval Baebes for those who don’t mind ugly people. Personally, I am fan of any band that contains a sackbut player. The group were formed in 1995 by Mary Devlin after she developed an obsession with medieval English music, as so many Californians do. Sumer Is Icumen In is featured on their 1997 debut album Between March and April.

The Sherwood Consort – Sumer Is Icumen In

Between March and April is currently unavailable but can be purchased on iTunes.

Download more on IUMA.

Visit their website.


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