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The Middle Ages in the Modern WorldTwenty-first century perspectives$
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Bettina Bildhauer and Chris Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266144

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266144.001.0001

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Is Medieval Music the New Avant-Garde? The Wilful, the Wayward and the Playful

Is Medieval Music the New Avant-Garde? The Wilful, the Wayward and the Playful

(p.134) 7 Is Medieval Music the New Avant-Garde? The Wilful, the Wayward and the Playful
The Middle Ages in the Modern World

Graham Coatman

British Academy

In his masterful exposé, The Modern Invention of Medieval Music, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson deliciously debunks much traditional thinking about medieval music, arguing that changing perspectives on this increasingly re-discovered and available body of work may be more dependent on the personality of the scholars and performers involved in its dissemination than the findings of new research. In this chapter, writing from the point of view of a composer and musician equally involved in the performance of both new and early music, Graham Coatman examines the work of contemporary composers who have chosen medieval models as their starting point. Is their use of medieval material a means to establish identity and authenticity, or a reaction against the harmonic and formal legacy of the nineteenth century? How is the use of pre-existent material integrated into the contemporary creative process? With reference to selective case studies, Coatman finds parallels with their medieval counterparts that make their work all the more compelling.

Keywords:   medieval, invention, personality, contemporary, identity, authenticity, creative, composer

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