Review of Daniel Leech-Wilkinson. 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 The former is now widely regarded to be “unhistorical”; it is a model that has been “superseded;’ thanks to “progress” in historical research.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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August 18, 2022