Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Medieval maw Day 02

Old friends and colleagues in town, reuniting our medieval band, for rehearsal and recording, and then more rehearsal.

We're re-doing a bunch of tracks from the old Norton CD (formerly LP) anthology which accompanied the Grout/Palisca History of Western Music, now edited (really, entirely recreated and improved) by my dissertation adviser Peter Burkholder. In addition to the particular realizations of specific pedagogical examples Peter is seeking, we are particularly interested in redressing bad memories We of a Certain Generation might have had about some of those versions recorded in the 1960s, versions which didn't particularly seem to reflect the conviction that the music might actually have sounded good, been enjoyable to play, or much relationship to the texts being sung. If you're of a Certain Generation, and went through a US-based university music program, you are likely to remember some of these now-antiquated versions. The chance to re-approach these repertoires, in the context of this most august of music history textbooks, feels like a long-deferred but still-welcome opportunity.

We started demo'ing some of these pieces in Peter Burkholder's undergraduate 400-level music history review courses almost 20 years ago, and are flattered that still, all this time later, he prefers our versions-as-remembered. I am quite certain that these will be the first recordings of medieval music using historical performance practice ever recorded in Lubbock County. Kind of reminds me of the question that we got after tearing the house down at our Boston Early Music Festival concert in a sweltering submarine of a church sanctuary just off of Harvard Square in 1991: "What the hell is going on out in Indiana?!?" Just move along, friend; nothin' here to see. You keep monopolizing the federal grant money and the media visibility and booking your friends and getting re-booked by them and presuming that anybody who lives outside the Left and Right Coasts must be a clueless hillbilly with nothing to offer to your own august and more sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and metrosexual artistic self. And then we'll come out of the MW cornfields (or the NPW rain forests, or the sweltering Southern river bottoms, or the freshwater red-brick universities) where we've been working our asses off and we'll play this music better than you ever imagined.

I hate privilege. Or individuals' presumption thereof.

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