Early music

Early music is commonly defined as European classical music from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque.

The Early Music Movement as a trend in history is the study and performance of music from composers before our own era and began in 1829 when Felix Mendelssohn conducted Bach's St Matthew Passion.

Performance practice

The early music movement of the 20th century has been closely associated with the concept of performance practice. With the renewed interest in early music came an interest in using period instruments and historically aware playing techniques.

Notation and performance

According to Margaret Bent (1998), Early music notation, "is under-prescriptive by our standards; when translated into modern form it acquires a prescriptive weight that overspecifies and distorts its original openness." Before about 1600, written music did not consistently state which instruments are used when. A century earlier, people who wrote down music did not always specify whether lines of polyphony were to be sung or played on an instrument. Similarly, the notation frequently does not indicate what key to play the music in, if any. Accidentals were not necessary. Notations for rhythm go back only to about 1200. There is thus a speculative element to all modern performances of Medieval and Renaissance music. However, Renaissance musicians would have been highly trained in dyadic counterpoint and thus possessed this and other information necessary to read a score, "what modern notation [now] requires [accidentals] would then have been perfectly apparent without notation to a singer versed in counterpoint" (ibid). See the article on Renaissance music and its section on notation and performance.

In the early music revival of the 20th century, the concept of historically informed performance--that is, using available documentation and other contextual evidence to recreate as closely as possible the original ways of playing the instruments used in early music--became an important facet of the performance of early music.

ee also

*Early Music Network
*Early Music Revival
*Historically informed performance
*List of early music ensembles
*Neo-medieval music

ources

*Judd, Cristle Collins. "Introduction: Analyzing Early Music" in Judd, Cristle Collins (ed.) (1998). "Tonal Structures of Early Music". New York: Garland Publishing. ISBN 0-8153-2388-3.
*Bent, Margaret. "The Grammar of Early Music: Preconditions for Analysis" in Judd, Cristle Collins (ed.) (1998). "Tonal Structures of Early Music". New York: Garland Publishing. ISBN 0-8153-2388-3.

External links

* [http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/ Early Music FAQ]
** [http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/misc/whatis.htm What is Early Music?]
* [http://www.learningmusician.com/features/0607/EarlyMusicForKids/ Ancient Tunes, Young Ears: Teaching Early Music to Kids]
* [http://earlymusichicago.org Early MusiChicago] - Early Music in Chicago and Beyond, with many links and resources of general interest


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