INSTRUMENTS OF THE MIDDLE AGES AND RENAISSANCE by David Munrow

INSTRUMENTS OF THE MIDDLE AGES AND RENAISSANCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Two pictorial histories by recognized British authorities, one primarily for the specialist, one for the broad music public. Systematically and precisely, Montagu describes the development of string, percussion, wind, and keyboard instruments during the early Middle Ages, the Crusades, the Hundred Years War, and the Renaissance. Illustrations are chiefly from illuminated manuscripts and other artworks until the Renaissance, when photographs of the instruments appear. It is a dry treatment--in effect a catalog--that one would consult, typically, to learn how a particular instrument was constructed and played. Munrow's interests are broader, embracing the social and historical background and--notably--the persistence of early instrumental types in present-clay folk music. He summarizes the research, assesses diverse sources of evidence, makes many suggestive observations (e.g., technical gains entailed musical losses), corrects misapprehensions (the ancient ""water-organ"" was not a marvel of plumbing), and writes with color and verve. The illustrations are multifarious, and include--besides period representations--musical scores and photos of the instruments being played. Like a good museum exhibit, the book stimulates as well as satisfies an interest. Next, you'll want a live performance.

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 1976
Publisher: Oxford