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The Modern Invention of Medieval Music: Scholarship, Ideology, Performance Paperback – Jul 2 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (July 2 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521037042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521037044
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 22.5 x 15 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,409,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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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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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: 1 review
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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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