The Chansonniers

Songs and dances from around the sixteenth century

What we do

flute player in bush

We are a small group of singers and players, and we perform music from (mainly) the sixteenth century and the early seventeenth; samples here: Listen - Early Music.

And sometimes we let our hair down and play contemporary settings of traditional tunes for fun, just as the old musicians did. Samples of that here: Listen - Trad/Folk Music. When we go out just to play folk/trad we call ourselves Peaceful River, and we have our own website for that:

The sixteenth century was an exciting time for musicians. The idea of the four-part choir had just been invented, and composers were busy exploring the possibilities of this fertile new approach. On top of that, music printing had arrived. Now their compositions could be printed and sold by the hundred, instead of being laboriously (though beautifully) copied one at a time by skilled professional scribes.

The Chansonniers (or Les Chansonniers, when we're feeling dandified) perform music from this great period, with one or two singers, plus recorders, viols, and plucked instruments such as harp, lute, or cittern. Pieces by the great English composers, such as John Dowland and Thomas Weelkes, are interspersed with pieces from the French contemporaries, such as Claudin de Sermisy and Thomas Crecquillon, with occasional pieces from Italy, Spain, and Germany. Although most of our repertoire comes from the sixteenth century it's nice to go a bit earlier or later as well, to show some contrast.


choir of cows

We are based in York (in North Yorkshire), surrounded by lots of lovely old buildings. Feel free to contact us if you want to enquire about having us perform at an event, by emailing Thomas Green at or by phoning him on 01904 673675.