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Review of Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel. 2002. The Modern Invention of Medieval Music: Scholarship, Ideology, Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Irvine, Thomas

Anyone who has heard medieval music in live performance or on record in
the last fifty years knows the sound that medieval music used to make: the
joyful yowling of a mixed crew of instrumentalists, bowing, tooting, honking,
and plucking, and-in the best performances-above it all, a single, ecstatic
voice. Anyone who has listened to such music in the last twenty knows
the sound it tends to make now: a blended and-again, in the best renditions-
no-Iess-ecstatic combination of purely intoned a cappella voices. The
former is now widely regarded to be "unhistorical"; it is a model that has
been "superseded;' thanks to "progress" in historical research. The Modern
Invention of Medieval Music tells the story of how a music changed its sound
because scholars re-thought its history and how a music changed its history
because musicians re-thought its sound.



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Columbia University
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November 5, 2014