Music: William East (fl 1748-1759)

Why are East's publications significant?

One characteristic of west gallery music is its use of fuging tunes. Up to 1746 such tunes appeared rarely in print; however, in that year a collection of psalm tunes was published by Michael Beesly of Blewbury, Oxfordshire, every one of which was fuging.

The books published by William East illustrate the remarkably rapid take-up and development of this type of tune. The Voice of Melody, first published in 1748, includes only plain and 'relay' psalm tunes, nearly all in four parts. The second edition, Voice of Melody Book 1 (1750), has two-, three- and four-part tunes, including a few 'cock and hen' tunes. However, in Voice of Melody Book 2, also published in 1750, almost all the psalm tunes are fuging -- some original, others tidied-up (and hence singable) versions from Beesly (Temperley and Mann, 1983, p. 15). Sacred Melody (1754) contains highly elaborate fuging tunes, most originating from the East Midlands.

The Voice of Melody (1st edn; c1748)

Source: imperfect copy belonging to private individual living in Rutland

Here are pdf files of working transcriptions I made back in the early 1990s, that first sparked my interest in this type of music. Please note that they are supplied as is: the originals, created using the excellent (in its day) Deluxe Music Construction Set on a Mac SE and printed out on an HP DeskWriter, have simply been scanned into Acrobat. The original lyrics were handwritten on the hard copy. However, each file, rough as it is, includes 30+ pages of music which you are welcome to try out with your own choir.

VOM48contents.pdf (192 KB)
VOM48psalms.pdf (1 MB)
VOM48anthems.pdf (1.1 MB)

Here are some updated transcriptions/editions of individual psalm tunes in Scorch format:

Psalm 1 (Goadby Tune) by William East
Psalm 4 (Eaton Tune) by William Knapp
Psalm 5 (Saxby Tune) by William East
Psalm 9 (Thorpe Tune) by William Knapp
Psalm 15 (Gadsby Tune) by John Barrow

The Voice of Melody Book 1 (2nd edn; 1750)

Source: Leicestershire Records Office (copy listed under 'East' in their music catalogue); see also British Library shelfmark A.914

Here are pdf files scanned from the music I prepared for the WGMA 1994 Ironbridge weekend. These were prepared using Coda MusicProse (the 'lite' version of Finale); slurs proved problematic at that time and so were added by hand. The title page is reproduced by permission of the Leicestershire Records Office.

EastVOM1-1750.pdf (880 KB)

The Voice of Melody Book 2 (1750)

Source: British Library shelfmark A.914; transcribed from microfilm

Here are pdf files scanned from the music I prepared for the WGMA 1994 Ironbridge weekend. See notes above for Book 1.

EastVOM2-1750.pdf (1 MB)

MIDI files and notes on individual psalm tunes

The midi files were professionally prepared by The Academy of Digital Music.

Psalm 8: midi file
A version of one of the most popular fuging tunes ever, commonly known as 'Otford'. This tune first appeared in a collection of psalm tunes published in c.1746 by Michael Beesly of Blewbury, Oxfordshire. Temperley and Mann comment (1983, p. 15): 'In tunes borrowed from Beesly ... East shows his superior technical skill by tidying up some of the faulty passages in the original tunes'.

Psalm 22: midi file
According to Temperley and Manns' (1983) fuging tune index, this is the earliest known printing of the tune (index no. 648). East republished it in c.1755 in his Collection of Church Music, with additional passing notes, dotted rhythms and a slightly different fuging structure (index no. 662). The first version was republished by Ralph Harrison, Sacred Harmony (1784 and later editions), under the name 'Gainsborough'. This version seems to have been also published in America by Simeon Jocelin – it appears in A Collection of Favorite Psalm Tunes (c.1787) and The Chorister's Companion (2nd edn 1788).

Psalm 77: midi file
Another very popular fuging tune, commonly known as 'Stroud' or 'Newbury'. This tune also first appeared Michael Beesly's collection.

The Sacred Melody a (1754)

Source: British Library shelfmark A.914.a; transcribed from microfilm

Here are a few for starters:

Psalm 1 (William Costall, schoolmaster of Caythorpe) Scorch file

Psalm 56 (attributed to John Everet): music score (pdf), midi file
This first appeared in East's publications according to Temperley and Mann (1983), though his fellow singing-teacher John Harrott of Great Bowden republished a version of it in The Rutland-Harmony (1769).

Psalm 61 (attributed to John Everet): music score (pdf), midi file
Of this tune Temperley and Mann write (1983, p. 15; index no. 868) :

One of the most remarkable [of the more elaborate fuging tunes in East's publications] is Everet's tune 868. It has several contrasting sections, four out of five of them fuging; many 'choosing notes' (the alto part often divides); and some beautiful suggestions of sixteenth-century harmony.

The Sacred Melody b (c 1754)

Source: British Library shelfmark A.1230.o; transcribed from microfilm into Sibelius

Whereas settings for sung responses in Matins and Evensong seem very rare in the 1700s, there are plenty for the responses to the reading of the Ten Commandments in the Communion service: 'Lord, have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law ...'

Te Deum, by Mr H. Hall
Four-part choruses interspersed with two- and three-part sections.

A Collection of Church Music (c 1757)

Nunc dimittis, by Mr Alcock
This is one of my favourites.

Gloria Patri: A Canon of Four in One, set by Dr Blow
'Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost ...'

Conventions used in transcriptions

Unless there is a note to the contrary, the clefs match those in East's books. I have followed the usual modern practice of transcribing music in the alto clef at pitch and tenor clef an octave high. In the verses of psalm tunes where each voice sings a line in turn, I have put all voices (including the bass) in the treble clef; the four parts revert to their proper clefs in the chorus.

The key and time signatures match East's as far as possible, with the following exceptions. In voices using the treble clef, East's engraver sometimes placed F# at the lower position for key signatures of G/Em etc. A time signature of 2/2 indicates retorted time (none of the music typesetting programs I've tried so far give this option).

East indicated repeat passages usually with a sign (which varied in pattern and orientation) at the start of a repeat, and the usual double barline (but with four dots) at the end. The convention used here is the same in spirit, though not an exact representation.

Editorial adjustments to the music are indicated by parentheses. They are limited to a couple of omitted accidentals and a correction to VOM Book 2's Psalm 88 (it seems that East himself made this correction; cf. the version that appears in the Bodleian's Collection).

I have used modern spelling and punctuation in transcribing the words of the psalms. Where the transcriber has omitted words -- on purpose or in error -- the words in italics indicate editorial insertions, taken from The Booke of Psalmes, collected into English Meeter by Thomas Sternhold, Iohn Hopkins, and Others ... (1633).