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The Modern Invention of Medieval Music: Scholarship, Ideology, Performance [Paperback]

Daniel Leech-Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

July 2 2007 0521037042 978-0521037044 1
Scholars and performers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries attempted to revive music that could evoke the Middle Ages. They invented new sounds and new ways of understanding medieval music. This is the fascinating story of the musicians and the societies in which they worked to remake a lost musical world.

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"This book is a good read for anyone who is interested in medieval music or has an interest in how history, particularly music history, is written and developed." Music Educators Journal

"Part histoiography and part reception history, this meticulously researched volume reminds readers that no attempt to re-create the music of the past is likely to avoid doing sos through perspectives that are decidedly embedded in the present. Highly recommended." Choice

"The Modern Invention of Medieval Music is n important book. It raises fundamental questions about the relation among music, performance, and historical writing. It belongs on the reading lists of every graduate course in musicological methods, and by extension in the hands of any musicologist interested in how and (more importantly) why we write about music. I cannot praise this book enough for its imagination, daring and élan. It is a book that hits us where we live." Current Musicology, Thomas Irvine

Book Description

Medieval music has become hugely popular. But it is largely a modern invention. Scholars and performers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries hoped to bring back to life music that could evoke the Middle Ages. Yet all the time they were inventing new sounds and new ways of understanding how the music worked. The story of the reinvention of medieval music is told here for the first time.--a story of individuals, the societies in which they worked, their tastes and beliefs, all interacting to remake a lost musical world.

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First Sentence
Anyone interested in early music, unless they are British and under about twenty-five, will have grown up with the idea that medieval polyphony uses instruments, and lots of them: in songs they play the tenor and contratenor, often join the singer of the cantus in unison or at the octave; in sacred music they play the cantus firmus and accompany the voices singing the other parts. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars How early music performers got that way Feb. 10 2003
Format:Hardcover
The author tells us how medieval and early Renaissance music acquired its voices-cum-instruments interpretation, then shows that the recent shift to unaccompanied voices in music of these periods is the recovery of an earlier understanding. The first chapter, "The invention of the voices-and-instruments hypothesis," shows that those who rediscovered old music in the 19th century considered it purely vocal music. Even Hugo Riemann in his Musik Lexicon (1892 and 1893 editions) agreed completely. But in his 1905 edition, Riemann insisted that untexted parts of polyphonic songs were played on instruments, and many phrases of texted melodies were actually instrumental preludes, interludes and postludes. This soon became the standard point of view, for Riemann's book was a popular and influential reference. Guido Adler was one of the few scholars who disagreed. Medieval illustrations of singers and instrumentalists were misinterpreted to reinforce this thinking. In chapter 2, "The re-invention of the a cappella hypothesis," he recounts the early reaction to this orthodoxy in the 1950s and the turning point of Christopher Page's 1977 article in Early Music. Since then, Page, Andrew Parrott and Paul Hillier have led many performances and recordings that demonstrated the sound of early music without instruments, and David Fallows supported their efforts in his writings. Two more chapters fill in the background of the arguments. National prejudices and Nazi ideology come into play, and details are provided. No one who listens to early music will want to pass up this magisterial treatment of its 20th-century evolution. The fight is not yet over, for most recordings of this music still use instruments in the fashion that Leech-Wilkinson thoroughly discredits in this engaging book.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How early music performers got that way Feb. 10 2003
By Jerome F. Weber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The author tells us how medieval and early Renaissance music acquired its voices-cum-instruments interpretation, then shows that the recent shift to unaccompanied voices in music of these periods is the recovery of an earlier understanding. The first chapter, "The invention of the voices-and-instruments hypothesis," shows that those who rediscovered old music in the 19th century considered it purely vocal music. Even Hugo Riemann in his Musik Lexicon (1892 and 1893 editions) agreed completely. But in his 1905 edition, Riemann insisted that untexted parts of polyphonic songs were played on instruments, and many phrases of texted melodies were actually instrumental preludes, interludes and postludes. This soon became the standard point of view, for Riemann's book was a popular and influential reference. Guido Adler was one of the few scholars who disagreed. Medieval illustrations of singers and instrumentalists were misinterpreted to reinforce this thinking. In chapter 2, "The re-invention of the a cappella hypothesis," he recounts the early reaction to this orthodoxy in the 1950s and the turning point of Christopher Page's 1977 article in Early Music. Since then, Page, Andrew Parrott and Paul Hillier have led many performances and recordings that demonstrated the sound of early music without instruments, and David Fallows supported their efforts in his writings. Two more chapters fill in the background of the arguments. National prejudices and Nazi ideology come into play, and details are provided. No one who listens to early music will want to pass up this magisterial treatment of its 20th-century evolution. The fight is not yet over, for most recordings of this music still use instruments in the fashion that Leech-Wilkinson thoroughly discredits in this engaging book.
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