Flying Forms | New Music for Old Instruments: Music for Baroque Instruments By Nissim Schaul

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New Music for Old Instruments: Music for Baroque Instruments By Nissim Schaul

by Flying Forms

Creating a new, contemporary music for Baroque instruments (harpsichord, Baroque violin, and viola da gamba).
Genre: Avant Garde: Classical Avant-Garde
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  Song Share Time Download
1. 4 Preludes for Harpsichord, For Baroque Trio: 1. Substitutions
2:23 $0.99
2. 4 Preludes for Harpsichord, For Baroque Trio: 2. Unmeasured
3:56 $0.99
3. 4 Preludes for Harpsichord, For Baroque Trio: 3. Not Yr Mom's Continuo Playing
1:22 $0.99
4. 4 Preludes for Harpsichord, For Baroque Trio: 4. Rolling
3:42 $0.99
5. Nuevos Misterios
18:39 $5.99
6. Prelude and Fantasia
7:19 $1.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Baroque ensemble Flying Forms and composer Nissim Schaul have been working together for nearly ten years to create new repertoire for Baroque instruments. New Music for Old Instruments celebrates the longevity and productivity of their collaboration. Harpsichords and viols, and the whole Baroque band — only recently reborn to play Bach and Monteverdi the way we believe today that these composers imagined their music — also need contemporary repertoire, to make the instruments truly come alive. Flying Forms’ recognition of this necessity is why this album exists.


Composer’s notes

4 Preludes for Harpsichord, For Baroque Trio: Baroque violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord; 2008
(Arranged for trio at Flying Forms’ request)
The original work, for harpsichord alone, was conceived as a set of relatively simple technical studies, covering a range of peculiarly harpsichordy techniques. The trio version adds a healthy dose of virtuosity to the mix.
1 - Substitutions: usually, one changes fingers when repeating many notes of the same pitch or when repeating the same multi-note figure
2 - Unmeasured: (see Prelude and Fantasia)
3 - Not yr mom’s continuo playing: (no comment)
4 - Rolling: harpsichordists usually roll multi-note chords rather than playing them as a block

Nuevos Misterios: Amplified Baroque violin and harpsichord; 2009
(Commissioned by Flying Forms, with support from the American Music Center’s Composers Assistance Program)
For me, the phrase Nuevos Misterios evokes all at once the mystery cults of the ancient world, the arcana and heretical violence of the Middle Ages, and the plain unknown future. Mystery and the history of the violin-and-harpsichord genre connect in the technology I employ. Ancient airs and forms are glanced at sidelong, but the instruments are amplified and distorted by guitar-style effects pedals. Baroque sonorities and the din of Modernity, disorientation at the intersection of tradition and technology: This is its own mystery.

Prelude and Fantasia: Solo harpsichord; 2006
(Composed for Tami Morse)
My first piece for harpsichord, or any other period instrument. Faced with this strange and magnificent instrument, I did what any young composer might: I borrowed from Bach. My Fantasia would be like the two-part Inventions, contrapuntal and serious; not exactly a fugue, but bigger, with six voices instead of two. (It takes some experience to recognize that needing more than two voices is a sign of weakness, not strength!)

One of Tami’s suggestions was that I write an unmeasured prelude after the model of Louis Couperin, because this 17th-century form was particularly associated with the harpsichord. In such a piece, the composer indicates what notes to play, whether a note should be held or immediately released, and the approximate phrasing, but the player decides how long the notes should last.

Discovering the unmeasured prelude was a turning point for me. It was my first exposure to the Baroque way of playing (Historically Informed Performance)—a looser, more spontaneous thing than contemporary instrumental style. Working with Flying Forms, watching them interact with each other and their bare-bones scores, I have become immersed in this performance practice. The different ethos to playing this repertoire has transformed my approach to composing, including the other pieces on this album, as well as the music I write for modern instruments.


Flying Forms ( is a Baroque chamber music ensemble that is quickly establishing a presence in the North American early music scene. Formed in 2005 and presently based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Flying Forms collaborates with prominent musicians, musicologists and Baroque dancers in a wide variety of programs from traditional to experimental.

Hailed by harpsichordist Arthur Haas as “the bright future of early music,” Flying Forms is also active in generating a contemporary repertoire for their instruments, having so far commissioned and premiered 13 new works. Most recently, the ensemble created four new pieces based freely on the historical harpsichord repertoire.

Flying Forms is: Marc Levine, Tami Morse, and Tulio Rondón. This is the group’s début recording.

Nissim Schaul ( is a Paris-based American composer with a penchant for unusual sonorities and ancient instruments. His music for period and modern instruments takes the flexibility of much Baroque notation as a point of departure. The New York Times has called Nissim’s work “spare and whispered, with a dissonant but compelling edge that
keeps you fascinated.” When not composing, Nissim is learning to play another old and obscure instrument, the vielle à roue (French hurdygurdy), just for fun. This is Nissim’s début recording.


A deep thank you to everyone whose donations made this recording possible, and a special note in memory of Ruth Schaul, whose legacy has played an outsize role in realizing the project. Thanks also to our collective families for their support of this project and our artistic lives, as well as Arthur Haas, The Baroque Room, ever-patient editor-extraordinaire Sarah Elzas, and the (sadly-defunct) American Music Center.

Engineered, produced, and mixed by Peter Nothnagle.
Performed by Flying Forms (Marc Levine, Baroque violin; Tulio Rondón, viola da gamba; Tami Morse, harpsichord), July 3-4, 2012 at St. Bridget’s Church, Solon, IA .
All music composed by Nissim Schaul (nissimmusic–ASCAP). All rights reserved.
Graphic design: La Nouvelle Com,



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