CANTIGA's unique and magical music has delighted visitors to Renaissance Festivals across North America for over thirty years.
The word CANTIGA means 'song' in the language of Alfonso the Wise, the 13th century Spanish "King of the Three Religions" whose royal court was a haven for Christian, Muslim, and Jewish musicians. Following in their tradition, the members of Cantiga are dedicated to the inclusive spirit of musical improvisation which has flourished among musicians in cultural crossroads throughout history and continues to be celebrated in today's diverse Global Village.
Most of our tunes at this point come from founding member Bob Bielefeld's research. He loves to spend long hours in early music libraries at Rice, Cornell, UT and Eastman, and copies tons of interesting looking stuff. Then it's a slow process of figuring out how to decipher what is often a very sketchy notation- we jam around with the melodies and try various chords- a shameful modern imposition to an early music purist, but necessary for a folk group. Then Bob makes a chart, the band runs it, changes it, runs it again and then plays and jams repeatedly on it until it slowly comes to "fruition"... often a few years! Then, every year in November and May we go into the studio to try to get a few new keepers for the next project. The tunes are always played differently each time so it's like jazz in that sense. And it always stays fresh!