Monday, October 2, 2017

Singing your knife

Kind words are benedictions. The are not only instruments of power, but of benevolence and courtesy; blessings both to the speaker and hearer of them.
~Arthur Frederick Saunders

Today's music is on knives from the Renaissance. The notes -- comprising graces and benedictions to be sung before and after a meal -- were transcribed and given to the Royal College of Music, who made the below recordings.

Left & right views of an etched, engraved and gilded steel knife with ivory, brass and silver handle, by an unknown maker, Italy, 1500–50. Victoria and Albert Museum no. 310-1903

From Open Culture:
...Each knife had a different piece of music on each side, and that a set of them together contained different harmony parts in order to turn a roomful of diners into a chorus. One set of blades had the grace on one side, with the inscription, “the blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat.” The other side holds the benediction, to be sung after the dinner: “The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity.”
Grace, Version 1
Benediction, Version 1

...We are as unlikely now to encounter singing kitchen knives as we are to run into a horse and rider bearing 100 pounds of finely-wrought wearable steel sculpture. Such strange artifacts seem to speak of a strange people who valued beauty whether carving up the main course or cutting down their enemies.
Grace, Version 2
Benediction, Version 2
One more benediction quote (80 years!):
For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner... I go to the piano, and I play preludes and fugues of Bach... It is a sort of benediction on the house.
Pablo Casals

1 comment:

HWY said...

Such a beautiful (and practical) knife. One of the people on the video mentioned that it was the squires who probably used the knives to cut the meat for the rich folks. I wondered if it was the squires who actually sang the benediction and the grace?