Degrees of Separation (Part 4: The Germans)

Follow me as I take you on a journey around the globe to explore new types of early and folk music, discover amazing musicians, and possibly find something we are missing along the way.  In this fourth part, we encounter some amazing performances in Germany.

Music had lead us from Texas to Sweden, and then to the Czech republic.  Let’s follow Psalteria’s music and see where it takes us.

Cantus Buranus

Psalteria was one of several bands to team up with Corvus Corax to create a project called Cantus Buranus, which reproduced Carl Orff‘s Carmina Burana. The Carmina Burana is 13th century manuscript that, despite popular misconception, contained no surviving music: only poetry.  Orff’s work was inspired by the manuscript; but the music is his own.  Regardless, I don’t think Orff or the writers of the manuscript ever expected Cantus Buranus:

Cantus Buranus manages to leap through the low bit rate and terrible compression and grab you by the heart.

The wailing is provided by the lovely Psalteria.  The crazy Hungarian in the white tunic dancing around the stage is playing the hit gardon.  If I weren’t so busy writing this blog, I would be dancing around with a hit gardon!

Sadly, this was many years ago.  Cantus Buranus material is very hard to find, and has been replaced by Cantus Buranus II (including the preforementioned link).  If you can get their DVD, get it!

While CB II lacks the grandeur of CB I, they still continue to perform some amazing pieces:

OK, so maybe they don’t lack grandeur: just Psalteria (who had broken up by this time):

Corvus Corax

If you haven’t already guessed it by now, the gentlemen in the gold, the core of the project, are Corvus Corax (the Latin name for raven).  Corvus Corax play medieval tunes with a heavy rock feel.  They make their own instruments based on extant documentation and drawings.  Here is the classic saltarello:


Play around on YouTube.  You can find a lot of their work.  Also, their music is easily purchased on Amazon.

Moving On…

Well, we should move on.  While we aren’t ready to leave Germany yet, I am going to stop here.  My next post is a bit more subtle, and their talents could easily be washed away by the raw power that is Corvus Corax.  Let’s give your ears a chance to dilate.  Then we will move on.


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