Music Historiography and the Definition of Renaissance

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John Hawkins Medieval and Renaissance Music Dr. Zayaruznaya December 15, 2010 Music Historiography and the Definition of “Renaissance” Owen’s article on the changing historical perspectives towards early music points in many directions: the natural present-mindedness of human beings, the difficulties in overcoming bias, and the historian’s ever-present “problem of knowledge”. What the last point leads us to – the fact that musical theorists of the 15 th and 16 th century had immense difficulty accessing music of earlier times – is that the dawn of musical literacy was perhaps not the revolutionary phenomenon it is often supposed to be. In fact, it was taken for granted, and collectors and libraries treated early manuscripts with negligence and
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Unformatted text preview: indifference. In noting this negligence it’s inferred that the idea of revolution, of renaissance, perhaps doesn’t apply, and in the realms of music, and art more generally, it is always overstated. Ironically, the problem for historians is shifting towards the other end, where utilities like the internet make knowledge so abundant as to be incomprehensible. This could lead to heightened specialization, which always emphasizes division and understates sameness, is more susceptible to the cult of revolution. Given that the problem of knowledge may shift from scarcity to abundance, it will be even more important to maintain a critical view of the traditional epochal view of music history....
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This document was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course MAP CA102 at NYU.

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