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Mark Everist (ed.)
The Cambridge Companion to Early Music
Cambridge University Press, 2011
This substantial new book contains a series of chapters by different authors, covering different aspects of medieval written music. First, there is a series of chapters on the usual historical divisions of medieval music. Then there are more unusual considersations of themes and regions.
This book is very useful for giving a rather solid and dense overview of the repertories that were written down in musical notation during medieval times, but it is rather narrow-minded in its consideration of other music. When oral traditions and un-notated repertories are mentioned, it is only in passing as a contrast to what we can know from the notated repertories; in many cases, the notated repertories are treated as if they were the only kind of musical practice worthy of scholarly attention. Scotland is only mentioned twice, one of those as part of evidence for the distinctiveness of English music. Ireland is mentioned only to point out that its undoubtably important and diverse secular and sacred music practices were not written down in medieval times.
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© Simon Chadwick
First published June 2011.