some friday link love

The biggest threat to science and scientific progress is not religion or religious believers, with our superstitious or supernatural beliefs, but the arrogance of those atheist fundamentalists among the scientific community who believe that science is the only legitimate and conceivable way to explain or understand the world – and who antagonise a sceptical public in the process.


  1. Glad to hear you are enjoying the Perotin CD Jason. It was a wonderful moment for me in May 2011 to stand in Notre Dame where Perotin and Leonin had stood in the 12thc. To sing there during the Mass in French was something of a let down. They don’t sing in the Organum style regularly any more it seems!
    The Notre Dame school of which P & L were part, was the seedbeed of the music of Western civilisation as we know it. The very beginnings of polyphony they developed there culminated centuries later in the polyphony of JS Bach. In our cultural arrogance (colonialism) we tend to think western music is more sublime than that of any other culture. It is true only in the high degree to which western composers have developed polyphony. Other cultures have developed highly intricate rhythms, polyrhythms or melodic intricacies (eg the Indian scale system of raga) etc. Perotin and Leonin were the outstanding compsoers of the early mediaeval period.
    Guillaume de Machaut ( c.1300 – c.1377)was the next European great. I have a small collection of some of theirs and many others compositions you might like to come and sight sing with us sometime soon, between sailing on the harbour next week?


  2. O Janet. I could sit and listen to you talk about this for hours, and would very much like to do so (as well as the sailing). Unfortunately, this feast might have to wait until after the block course now. I started listening to the Hilliard Ensemble doing Gesualdo’s Tenebrae today. Amazing stuff. Can you recommend anything I should read that would help me to better understand this Middle Age and late Renaissance music?


  3. The final two comments in the piece by John Crace – ace.

    btw, the circus is visiting our town and we’ve just been, loved the trapeze.


  4. Carlo Gesualdo was a very interesting character wasn’t he! He who murdered his young wife, her lover and an infant whose paternity he doubted! Amazingly chromatic music, at times awkward even in the late 16th-early 17thc.

    One of the best books still to read (and my library is all published in the 20thc) is Donald J Grout’s History of Western Music [W W Norton].. My copy is with a student at the moment awaiting return, but the University Library should have a copy. It’s an engaging read for generalist understandings of the whole of western Music history.
    Also the Pelican History of Music (ed. Alec Robertson and Denis Stevens) vols 1 & 2 which cover from ancient forms of polyphony through Renaissance and Baroque.
    Albert Seay’s small volume Music in the Medieval World (publ. Prentice Hall) is good too. I ‘m not familiar with the next one in that series – Renaissance Music by Joel Newman – but it may be in the library too.
    W W Norton have some other definitive publications:
    Music in Western Civilisation by Paul Henry Lang
    Gustave Reese’s two volumes Music in the Middle Ages and Music in the Renaissance are dense, more specialised works.
    Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music by Manfred Bukofzer is very good.
    Music in Medieval Britain by Frank Ll. Harrison [Routledge and Kegan Paul] great for a specifically British angle on the history of music.
    The New Oxford History of Music series is excellent.
    I have Vol III Ars Nova and the Renaissance 1300 – 1540 which you may wish to borrow, along with nearly all of the above.

    You are most welcome to borrow…


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