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Each year the NCEM Young Composers Award invites young composers to create new works for instruments and performance styles of previous centuries. Here we are pleased to share the guides produced to help them.

Writing for the Cornett, Sackbut and Chamber Organ

Imitating the sound and articulation of the voice was central to the playing techniques of renaissance wind players. To help us continue this tradition, ECSE are looking for new pieces that treat cornetts and sackbuts as 'wordless voices', closer to a group of madrigal singers than to a modern brass ensemble.

Writing for Viols and Voices

The consort of viols, first developed in early Renaissance Italy, provides a matched family of bowed string instruments in three sizes and pitches, that mirror the ranges of vocal ensembles: treble, tenor and bass.

Writing for Recorders

Historically, music for recorder consort often used instrumentation reflecting a vocal choir – Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass. However, using different combinations of instruments can achieve vastly different sound worlds.

Writing for String Quartet

The instruments use strings made from sheep or sometimes cow gut, as they would have done in the romantic period 1800-1900, as opposed to the steel or synthetic strings used on most stringed instruments today.

Writing for Baroque Ensemble

The instruments will be tuned to A415.  This means that they will sound a semitone lower than modern pitch (A440).

Writing for the Lute

The lute family is a large and varied one, with instruments of many different sizes and tunings (the nearest equivalent in terms of variant tunings now is the banjo). Most lute songs of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods were written for a renaissance tuning in G.

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