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The Mediaeval Baebes is an English ensemble of female musicians founded by Miranda Sex Garden member Katharine Blake in the 1990s, featuring some of her MSG cohorts as well as other friends who share her love of medieval music. The lineup often rotates from album to album, and ranges from 8 to 12 members.
The Baebes’s first album, Salva Nos (1997), shot straight to No 2 in the classical charts, a silver disc. Subsequent albums include Worldes Blysse (which went straight to No 1), Undrentide, (co-produced by John Cale) The Rose, and the holiday-themed album Mistletoe & Wine.
Their latest album, Mirabilis (2005), was launched at a concert and party in London, August 2005.
Each album features traditional medieval songs and poetry set to music, all arranged by Blake specifially for the ensemble. They sing in a variety of languages, including Latin; Middle English, French, and Italian; Russian; Welsh; Irish Gaelic; modern English and the nearly extinct Cornish. Their vocals are backed by medieval instruments, played by the singers or fellow musicians. One of the group’s founding musicians, Dorothy Carter, died of a stroke in 2003 at the age of 68. In addition to playing autoharp, hurdy gurdy, and dulcimer with the group, she performed the lead vocals on So Spricht Das Leben (Worldes Blysse) and L’Amour de Moi (The Rose).
The Baebes’s musical pieces run the gamut from extremely traditional, such as their version of The Coventry Carol on Salva Nos, to songs that feel traditional but are much more modern, such as their rendition of Summerisle, a song written for Robin Hardy’s 1973 cult film Wicker Man. John Cale added non-medieval instruments, including saxophone and electric guitar, to some of the arrangements on Undrentide.
Early music through classical cum rock: Vanessa-Mae, Twelve Girls Band, Eric Levy.
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