John Butt – Playing with History

Playing with History: The Historical Approach to Music Performance

Why do we feel the need to perform music in a historically informed style? Is this need related to wider cultural concerns? In this challenging study, John Butt sums up recent debates on the nature of the early music movement, calling upon a seemingly inexhaustible fund of ideas gleaned from historical musicology, analytic philosophy, literary theory, historiography and theories of modernism and postmodernism. He develops the critical views of both supporters and detractors, claiming ultimately that it has more intellectual and artistic potential than its detractors may have assumed. (mais…)

Bernard Sherman – Inside Early Music

The attempt to play music with the styles and instruments of its era – commonly referred to as the early music movement – has become immensely popular in recent years. For instance, Billboard’s “Top Classical Albums” of 1993 and 1994 featured Anonymous 4, who sing medieval music, and the best-selling Beethoven recording of 1995 was a period-instruments symphony cycle led by John Eliot Gardiner, who is Deutsche Grammophon’s top-selling living conductor. But the movement has generated as much controversy as it has best-selling records, not only about the merits of its results, but also about the validity of its approach. To what degree can we recreate long-lost performing styles? How important are historical period instruments for the performance of a piece? Why should musicians bother with historical information? Are they sacrificing art to scholarship? (mais…)

Various – Singing Early Music

Singing Early Music: The Pronunciation of European Languages in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance

“Commendable in its scholarship… should prove of interest to linguists, medievalists, and Renaissance academicians, as well as to fastidious performers of early music.” – Choice

“Singing Early Music is a pioneering work of surpassing quality that cannot be too highly recommended.” – Journal of Singing

“Addresses the needs of the performer directly, giving historical pronunciations for a range of languages [and] sample texts… The CD that comes with the book will prove invaluable… David Klausner’s recording is admirably consistent and convincing across the wide range of languages.” – Early Music (mais…)

Bruce Haynes – The End of Early Music

Its performing traditions lost to time, early music has become the subject of significant controversy across the world of classical music and presents numerous challenges for musicians, composers, and even listening audiences. The studies of instruments and notes on early manuscript pages may help to restore early music to its intended state, yet the real process is interpretive, taking place within performers themselves. This book is about historical performance practice in its broadest sense. The book begins by identifying the most common performing styles, using and comparing sound recordings from the past. To help musicians distinguish between Period and Romantic styles, the book engages with the most current and controversial topics in the field in defining the differences between them. Throughout, it presents many compelling arguments for using pre-Romantic values as inspiration to re-examine and correct Romantic assumptions about performance. (mais…)

Clive Brown – Classical & Romantic Performing Practice 1750-1900

The past ten years have seen a rapidly growing interest in performing and recording Classical and Romantic music with period instruments; yet the relationship of composers’ notation to performing practices during that period has received only sporadic attention from scholars, and many aspects of composers’ intentions have remained uncertain. Brown here identifies areas in which musical notation conveyed rather different messages to the musicians for whom it was written than it does to modern performers, and seeks to look beyond the notation to understand how composers might have expected to hear their music realized in performance. (mais…)

Performing Issues

The title of this post might suggest controversy, but it is not intended to be controversial. The excerpt that follows was taken from my current reading: Early Music: A Very Short Introduction. This is one more book of Oxford University Press collection “A Very Short Introduction”, a sort of “fast-reading” book that puts you on the terminology and theory behind the idea of what’s early music all about.

The excerpt that follows was taken from the fifth chapter who’s title gives the title to this post. (mais…)

Brown & Sadie (ed.) – Performance Practice: Music Before 1600

Performance PracticeThis handbook, an entirely new work, is not simply another guide to the performance of music of the past; it is, rather, a book about the study of past performance. Each main section – Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Twentieth Century – contains an introduction dealing with contexts of performance as well as sources and theory. This is followed by detailed discussions of vocal and instrumental performance. In the sections on instruments, for example, acknowledged authorities such as Professor Brown, Peter Williams, Malcolm Bilson and Robert Winter, consider how the techniques and sound of instruments of the past differ from those of today. (mais…)