minstrel: Reconstruction

Tim Connor timcon at flash.net
Sat Mar 11 09:33:38 PST 2000

William and Scianna Augustine wrote:
> > I would like to see more scope for speculative reconstruction in the
> > SCA, especially in music (that being my main interest).
> Might you define what you mean by "speculative reconstruction"?
> Sionnach

I mean an educated effort to reconstruct period musical practice.  We do
this to some extent every time we perform a medieval piece, simply
because not enough is known about how it was done in period.  I'd like
to see more encouragement of well thought out reconstructions in areas
where documentation is, at best, scanty, such as the Highland Scot
tradition referred to earlier, or the Irish harp tradition which was
never written down at all in period.

My rationale is that, if our objective is to _live_ the middle ages, we
can't just leave out the parts that through bad luck got left out of the
written record.  A 13th century Irish persona with no Irish music to
play or listen to, or even hum while walking through the woods is a
fairly incomplete persona.  Also, if we're to recreate medieval music,
we really ought to be composing and improvising in period styles--we can
never be quite sure we're doing it as our models would, but we ought to
give it our best shot, and not get too obsessive about proving that it
was done this way.  In the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, it
should be enough to make a plausible case that it might have been.


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