Our fall season will soon begin, and right now we’re setting the groundwork for a program of Western European music from the 1100s to the 1300s. You’ll have to wait until September for specific information about our upcoming concert, but in the coming weeks I’ll be posting some pre-season “appetizers.”
How do we know what Medieval music sounded like? The short answer is that we don’t; not really, anyway. Especially since there wasn’t one consistent method of notating music during this time period, and a lot of music wasn’t written down at all. But thanks to the work of historians and musicologists, we can make some educated guesses. For example, images like this illumination (pictured above) from the 13th-century manuscript of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, provide clues about what instruments medieval musicians played, what their techniques were, whether singers was accompanied or unaccompanied, whether men and women performed together, and so on.
The work of scholars can help modern performers, but there is still a lot of room for interpretation. When we begin rehearsing at the end of the month, we’ll have to do some scholarly work of our own to inform our artistic choices about how to bring this music to life.
Check back soon for more updates!