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I write this piece primarily as a musicologist and amateur early music practitioner (viola da gamba player) who tries to understand the ways twentieth- and twenty-first century musicians and scholars have imagined and performed ancient music and dance. This essay emerged from my book project Performing Antiquity: Ancient Greek Music and Dance from Paris to Delphi, 1890-1935 and brings my training as a historical musicologist and dance historian to bear on issues typically of concern to archaeologists, classicists, and linguists.
While working on that book, I kept running across a number of individuals working now who are deeply engaged in the same kinds of reconstruction and performance projects like the ones I discuss. This essay serves as the first step toward a “sequel” so to speak to my previous book. I started by interviewing a number of these practitioners of extreme early music (music from before 800 CE), including performers, instrument builders, and scholars in classics and archaeology. Their generosity of time and willingness to share inform my gentle treatment of their work. I am not here to serve as judge and jury to determine if their interpretations, recreations, restorations, or composition are authentic, and I hope that readers don’t get too caught up in these questions either. Instead, I hope readers use the politics and performance of extreme early music to interrogate the ways we perform multiple pasts today.
Open Access Musicology, Volume One
Ethnomusicology | Musicology | Other Music
Dorf, Samuel N., "Ancient Mesopotamian Music, the Politics of Reconstruction, and Extreme Early Music" (2020). Books and Book Chapters by University of Dayton Faculty. 78.