Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Medieval Music 2

So, in a bid to break my listening patterns (for the better) I spent the afternoon driving out to St Andrews listening to more medieval music (the tunes are all very short and kind of clipped). The theory being it's a purge for my listening system (ears) and habits that might remove the scars from the sycophantic afternoon pap on most talk radio and the dreary music elsewhere out on the daytime "music" spectrum. Well of course a lot of medieval music is dreary too, kind of tuneless, modal and simple but in it's day it delighted the crowned heads of Europe and provided a backdrop to courtly ceremony and gatherings. It's really strange to think about that and how it must have all been, scratchy and wooden. Like having bad buskers practicing in your house whilst complete strangers came and went, quaffing your ale and stealing your sheep. But there is something nice about it, something raw, clumsy and very human (as human as you can be whilst the royal court looks on). These guys were doing their level best to entertain and also avoid disapproval and who knows what as a punishment. You can sense that they'd like to add fun to the mix but at the same time not cause offence or an upset. It's strained and all a bit tense. At any moment the Spanish Inquisition might well burst in and fracture your lute, poke you with your flute and then cast you into a pit with irons around your ankles. All for a bum note or a burst string that can't be fixed until you kill a passing cat. Then there's the general disapproval of the mighty church and it's officials  to contend with. Tough gig.

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