The Colonizing Ear

Bernard D. Sherman

in Inside Early Music

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195169454
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865017 | DOI:
The Colonizing Ear

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Christopher Page first ruffled the early-music world in the late 1970s, when he (and, independently, the American scholar Craig Wright) put forward a radical hypothesis. It held that the instruments popularized by Noah Greenberg, Thomas Binkley, and David Munrow were modern impositions; that medieval polyphony was usually performed with voices taking every line and with little or, more often, no instrumental accompaniment; and that even monophonic music may often have been sung unaccompanied. Audiences and performers had come to love those shawms and rebecs, and scholars had supported their use, so it is not surprising that the idea was hardly welcomed—except, significantly, in the United Kingdom, with its wealth of cathedral-trained singers. This chapter presents an interview with Page on medieval music, the medieval experience of music, secular song performance, complex three-texted motets, sacred music and chant, connection of music with mathematics and science, historical performances and how to recognize them, accuracy of duration, and expressiveness in singing texts.

Keywords: Christopher Page; medieval music; polyphony; performance; three-texted motets; duration; expressiveness; period instruments; sacred music; chant

Chapter.  12450 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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