For me, one of the most pleasurably unearthly sensations is that of hearing or witnessing something that one would never have imagined to have survived—something, in a sense, one has no business hearing. This is one of the real attractions of the study of historical performance practices, for me at least; one seeks to recapture sounds, techniques, approaches, and even ways of hearing that disappeared long ago. Ultimately, perhaps, it is nothing more than the basic historian’s impulse: There Was Something Worth Knowing Back Then, And We Are Diminished For Having Forgotten It. And here we find ourselves fellow-traveling with, for example, ethnobotanists: we share the simple humanities-based impulse that what was previously known or thought or experienced was of value and is worth preserving, even if the value is now understood differently. It is also where we part company with narrow orthodoxies of whatever kind: religious, political, scientific, which tell us what we do and do not EVER need to know.I do find a pleasure when playing my cornetto, knowing that I'm recreating timbres that were around in the Renaissance. But I'm also just attracted to the sound in itself, which is the "Worth Knowing" part of the equation.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Jonathan Bellman has a very interesting post about musical knowledge that has been lost.