top of page


The pulse is the power of imagination

A cantus firmus: a repeating bass as the foundation for a piece of music that freely develops on top of this ostinato. This principle has seen great success in contemporary music, yet has its roots in a rich history. Black Pencil melts the most heart-rending and virtuosic works from the Renaissance and Baroque with those of the present day: the pulse of Padding and Purcell. The listener is kept on the edge of their seat: which period can this hypnotising music be from?


  • Music from the 16th, 17th and the 21st century (John Baldwine, Christopher Tye, Thomas Woodson, Nathaniel Giles, Henry Purcell, Martijn Padding, Wim Henderickx, Klas Torstensson)

  • Duration of the concert is 60 minutes (intermission possible)

Bring the wonders of classical music to life in a new way: amaze the audience and yourself!


Black Pencil: a virtuosic unity that utilises their unique sound world to achieve an extremely expressive result’ –

Martijn Padding

The Royal Manuscript RM 24 d r (now in the British Museum) was copied by John Baldwine between 1581 and 1606, and is thus commonly known as the ‘Baldwine Manuscript’. It contains countless vocal and instrumental works by composers such as Cooper, Parsons, Woodson, Byrd, Giles, Taverner, Tye, Wood, and Baldwine himself.


A unique and interesting feature of this publication is the use of extremely complex rhythms in a number instrumental works, something found almost nowhere else in the Renaissance repertoire.  In particular, the works of John Baldwine, Nathaniel Giles and Thomas Woodson really push the boundaries in their use of irregular proportions.


The choice of these compositions from the Baldwine Manuscript is based upon these virtuosic instrumental pieces that make use of a cantus firmus as a ‘ground’ (a musical form where variations on a melody are set above a bass line that repeats), and Fantasias. Central to this project is the musical metamorphosis around themes or the cantus firmus during the composition.  These pieces have also served as inspiration for the commissioning of new compositions, and for the realisation of our own arrangements.   


The title of this project, Sit Fast, is taken from the magnum opus of Christopher Tye (ca. 1505-1572): a rhythmic and harmonic labyrinth found in the Baldwine Manuscript.  ‘Sit fast’ doesn’t refer to speed, but rather invites us to ‘sit still’ and listen. Through this innovative formula, Tye invited music lovers to dive into the enormous imagination presented in his works.At the end of ‘Sit Fast’ he wrote: Singe ye trew & care not:- for I am trew & feare not:-  In modern English” ‘Sing true and care not, for I am true and fear not’. One could not wish for a more fitting motto when performing music!


John Baldwine (1560-1615): Browninge

Christopher Tye (c1505-c1572): Sit Fast (arr. by Roderik de Man)

John Baldwine (1560-1615): Coockow

Wim Henderickx (1962): Sacred Places IV (2019)

John Baldwine (1560-1615): Upon Ut, Re, Mi, Fa

Thomas Woodson (?-1605): Upon Ut, Re, Mi, Fa

Martijn Padding (1956):  Baldwin Close ups (2018)

John Baldwine (1560-1615): Sermone Blando, Angelus

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Fantasia upon One Note (1680)

Working sessions with Martijn Padding.

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 22.21.58.png

After the World Premiere of Sacred Places IV.

With Wim Henderickx and Roderik de Man.

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 22.29.19.png
bottom of page