Musicial authenticity

Greg Lindahl gl8f at fermi.clas.virginia.edu
Sun Sep 10 18:06:08 PDT 1995


On Sep 9,  9:28, Brett Williams wrote:

> Which leads to another question of mine:  What do you all (meaning the 
> subscribers to the enitre list) feel about all the pieces that fall 
> into the "unproven" category? Do we adhere strictly to the letter of 
> the law and exclude all that which is undocumentable despite they can 
> be placed in our period by reference or quotation? 

I don't know what you want to do, but *I* want to document what I play
and sing. In addition to positive methods of documenting things, there
are also negative ones: do the lyrics of "The Witch of Westmoreland"
represent a theme that you find in historical songs?

> It's my feeling that if we exclude the unprovable then it would lead 
> one to a natural conclusion that not only should we exclude the 
> unproven, but also our own efforts as well.

This line of argument is a really negative one, for it seems to be
arguing that authenticity is impossible, and therefore we _must_ throw
it away. I don't agree. Authenticity is a relative concept. I can
document the words and music for some period songs. I can't document
the appropriate accent or performance technique; in fact, I suspect
that no one will ever document that. There is no one who would insist
for the impossible, but there are some who won't perform something if
it has something about it that glaringly places it into the 19th or
20th century.

> And that's not a step I want to take. One of my greatest joys in music 
> is what I call 'redaction music": a demonstrably old piece of music or 
> song that's been redone/reinterpreted anew. I love listening to it and 
> doing it myself. I find redactions to be one of the special attractions 
> of the Society.

Redactions can be nice, but for me, it depends on what has been done
to the piece. Did the writer rework the piece to have lyrics about SCA
history that would fit well into real history? Or did the writer
rework the piece to talk about computers? There's a good and a bad way
to do most things.

Gregory Blount



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