minstrel: cutoff date (was Several Questions,...)

hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu
Tue Mar 28 17:19:12 PST 2000

On Thu, 23 Mar 2000, Patricia Yarrow wrote:
> Kathleen wrote:
> <<Personally, I have no problem with music up to about 1650 being considered
> 'period'.  There is much in music that harkons back to bygone years and
> this was certainly true in 'period times'.  As long as the music being
> used is not something that was considered innovative in it's own time, I
> think we are fairly safe. :)>>
> Unfortunately, music is one of the few areas where we do see a sharp 
> delineation between old and new right around 1600, with the emergence of 

Cooking being one of the other areas of this type.

> opera, monody and tonalism.  I do think it's safe to say that those changes 
> were not universal, and I for one certainly accept Ravenscroft and friends as 
> "close enough" to period.  I also accept the ap Huw manuscript as *being* 
> period, for all that it was written down c. 1613, as some of the pieces were 
> copied out of an early manuscript (that of Wiliam Penlyn) and the others are 
> characteristic of the same style.
> What are the feelings of the rest of the list as far as cutoff dates for 
> material to be performed at events?  Do you consider post-1600 material on a 
> case-by-case basis?

I go by the same feeling: there are enough radical changes happening in
music around the 1600 cut-off that I find fudging the next half-century
fairly unsatisfactory.  Actually, come to think of it, I might be inclined
to argue that there are _more_ fields where the state of the art in 1650
is pretty unrecognizable compared to the 16th century.  Cultural change
infects from one field to another.  And it isn't as if we don't have
plenty of pre-1600 material to work from.  The only cases where I'm
inclined to follow the lenient path are in fields where the pre-1600
evidence is scanty or next to non-existant and yet we know the field was
practiced.  (Dance, for example.)  I don't see that music, in general, is
in this case.  In the specific (e.g., Welsh harp music), we may have an
absense of pre-1600 evidence, but for many areas this isn't the case.  So,
for example, if we compare the lyrics of known 16th century broadside
ballads with the lyrics of our favorite Child ballad and find systematic
differences, I think that's a clear argument for innovation, not a field
for backward extrapolation.


Heather Rose Jones         hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu

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