Have you ever wanted to know a little more about the history of the music that you enjoy at Early Music Vancouver’s concerts? Maybe you have wondered about the physical spaces and social settings in which the music was experienced long ago, or about the people who composed and performed it. How did they learn their craft? What did they believe about its purpose?
EMV’s new summer school will begin with a course exploring the music of antiquity and the medieval era. You will learn about surviving evidence of the musical life of the past, leaf through digitized versions of magnificent music manuscripts, receive a guided tour of a virtual musical instrument museum, explore the life and work of remarkable historical figures like Hildegard of Bingen, discover the functions of ancient music including ritual, storytelling, memorization, diplomacy, and more.
You can participate in this course from the comfort of your own home. Each class will be offered online via Zoom and will consist of a one-hour presentation and half an hour of discussion in which to pose questions and connect with other music lovers. Internationally acclaimed performers who specialize in medieval music will make guest appearances to share aspects of their work.
Participation is by donation. Class is open to everyone, prior music education is not necessary.
We extend our sincere thanks to Good Barrister for its generous support of EMV’s Online Summer School.
Instructor: Christina Hutten
Christina Hutten is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of British Columbia and a harpsichordist and organist who performs often on EMV’s concert series. She teaches music history at Vancouver Academy of Music and as a sessional instructor and teaching assistant at UBC, and frequently writes programme notes for EMV and other presenters. Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), she has spent several years studying and researching in Europe. Relating empathetically to people of other times and places motivates her work as scholar and musician.
Benjamin Bagby, music director of Sequentia
Alex Fisher, UBC Professor of Early Music & Musicology, Renaissance and Baroque Studies
Katarina Livljanic, music director of Dialogos
Eric Mentzel, director of the Seattle Medieval Women’s Choir and formerly a member of Sequentia
Scott Metcalfe, music director of Blue Heron
Andrew Hankinson, researcher with the Center for Digital Scholarship at Oxford University
What Is “Early Music” Anyways?
A brief overview of the pioneering research, experimentation, creativity, and philosophies behind the reconstruction and live performance of music of the past.
Talking about Music
We value music for the effect it has on us, but music can be difficult to describe. This talk will introduce you to some useful musical vocabulary.
Music in Antiquity and the Medieval Era
1. Musical Life and Philosophy in Ancient Greece
Fascination with ancient Greek accounts of music-making and its power to move and shape humans inspired the flourishing of music in the European Renaissance, the creation of opera, and long-lasting perspectives on music education. Explore the birth of Western musical culture in antiquity.
2. Music in Sacred Ritual
In chant, words and music reinforce each other, increasing both the audibility and impact of the text. In some areas of Europe and the Middle East, chanting has continued in unbroken oral tradition until today. Thousands of chants also survive in musical notation, including the astonishingly beautiful contributions of abbess Hildegard of Bingen.
3. Capturing Music
The technology of musical notation, which we so easily take for granted today, developed gradually over centuries, allowing musicians to share treasured music across great distances of place and time.
4. Music of the Spheres
From antiquity through the Renaissance, music and its arithmetic were believed to be intimately connected with the workings of the universe. Medieval philosophers identified three types of music: the music of the celestial bodies, the music of the human body, and the audible music made by voices and instruments.
5. The Rise of Polyphony
Polyphony, music consisting of multiple lines performed simultaneously, developed from the impulse to embellish musical tradition – to make ancient chants even more precious by adding to them other harmonious melodies.
6. Medieval Song
The poet-musicians, troubadours, trouvères, and minnesingers, have become the characters of legend. Often imagined to as itinerant performers, these sophisticated artists were more likely to be courtiers or noble men and women, whose songs reflect ideals of civility, courtly love and longing, and religious devotion.
7. Musical Instruments – Medieval Soundscapes
Little notated instrumental music survives from the Middle Ages, for instrumental virtuosity was carefully guarded by guild secrecy. Stories like the Pied Piper of Hamelin record the mysterious and dangerous power attributed to instrumental music. Diverse musical instruments from harps to bells contributed to the medieval soundscape, accompanying song and dance, coordinated military efforts and processions, even dispelling evil spirits.
8. Guillaume de Machaut: The Artist as an Individual
We know the names of few musicians of antiquity or the Middle Ages, in part because music-making was a communal activity governed by tradition rather than by individual originality. In this context, Guillaume de Machaut distinguished himself as a master poet-composer of enormous influence, who took a personal interest in collecting his work in carefully ordered and beautifully illuminated manuscripts.
9. By Request!
Is there a topic relating to medieval music that you are keen to know more about? Please ask!