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April 2, 2022

Saturday morning quotes 8.39: Context again

Regular readers will discern that our essays continually harp on the importance of context in our interpretations of early music. What exactly do we mean by this? “…Contextual music history: a style of history that locates the conception, production, transmission, and consumption of music firmly within a social, religious, economic and political context.” – Michael […]

July 24, 2021

Saturday morning quotes 8.21: More on Context

Our last post posed contrasting points of view concerning musical performance, highlighting musical content versus performances that attempt to place music in its context. For obvious reasons, musical content is and should be the performer’s primary focus when offering obscure, unique or unfamiliar music to an audience. But placing music in its historical context can […]

July 10, 2021

Saturday morning quotes 8.20: Context v. Content

As dedicated performers of historical music, we occasionally mention the importance of contextual details that inform our understanding of song texts and their music, and we are firm in the belief that these details lead to engaged interpretations of musical treasures that have for centuries occupied a silent library shelf. But we want to emphasize […]

October 3, 2015

Saturday morning quotes 5.20: Dowland and Context

Our weekly posts are unapologetically focused on vocal music of the 16th century and the lute as it was regarded in its golden age; an emblem for all that was civilized and sophisticated, refined and nuanced.  Firmly committed to providing contextual references, we hope we might steer today’s lutenists away from their classical guitarist roots […]

June 23, 2012

Saturday morning quotes 2.5: Context

Context is everything.  When interpreting, or even writing about historical music, we run into archaic word meanings that seem obscure and can tend to mislead the modern listener.  This means the effective interpreter has to work doubly hard to convey the original sense of the archaic meaning to modern audiences in an accessible manner, respecting […]

March 26, 2022

Saturday morning quotes 8.38: Revisionism

“Keepers of books—collectors and librarians—prefer to buy books in good condition, rather than well-worn, heavily marked-up exemplars. On top of this is the seemingly banal fact that the least-used books survive the longest.” – Susan Forscher Weiss, “Vandals, Students, or Scholars? Handwritten Clues in Renaissance Music Textbooks”, in  Music Education in the Middle Ages and […]

February 12, 2022

Saturday morning quotes 8.35: Character study

“The lute is a modest interpreter of our thoughts and passions to those that understand the language. One may tell another by the help of it what he hath in his heart. We may express upon it choler, pity, hatred, scorn, love, grief, joy; we may give hope and despair…[For] those that have the grace […]

January 15, 2022

Saturday morning quotes 8.33: Plague & Justice

We check in with the voluminous writings of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527), famous poet and astute advisor to the ambitious and powerful over the past 500 years. Machiavelli was also the lyricist for one of our favorite madrigals by Philippe Verdelot (c. 1480 – 1530) which was arranged for solo voice and lute by […]

October 30, 2021

Saturday morning quotes 8.26: Mignarda reading list

The pandemic appears to rage on, but what is visible to many of us is an ever increasing authoritarian presence that permeates our lives right down to when and where we are permitted to share our music. Since the entire world is now officially under watch by the finger-wagging thought police, it seems imprudent to […]

September 4, 2021

Saturday morning quotes 8.24 Doulce Mémoire album release

Events of the past 18 months have put a universal damper on concert activities for musicians of all types, and early music specialists, with our narrow and mostly mature audiences, have been particularly hard-hit by limited performance opportunities, a situation made more difficult by a general confused message from leadership with rules that appear to […]