The Cultural Context of Medieval Music
by Nancy van Deusen
November 2011, 202pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99412-9
$53, £40, 45€, A76
eBook Available: 978-1-57356-996-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Music was crucial to the learning process itself in the Middle Ages—and beyond. One learned basic concepts by doing them, and learned them well because music was “delicious” to the taste—a medieval insight that should be reclaimed.

An urgently needed guide to understanding medieval music to be used as a text for the university undergraduate, graduate students in music and interdisciplinary medieval studies, and for the professional musicologist and medievalist. This book will also be appreciated by everyone interested in early music.

Nancy van Deusen’s The Cultural Context of Medieval Music addresses the mental landscape surrounding music that, especially, was sung and experienced in the Middle Ages. Largely anonymous in its composition, and apparently lacking the motivation of fame and commerce, music within a well thought-out system of education served a purpose that goes far beyond casual entertainment or personal professional advancement. Offering experience through performance, music exemplified the basic principles not only of the material and possible measurements of the visible world—such as of objects, relationships, and movement—but also of the invisible materials of sound and time, making it an ideal medium for working with unseen substances such as concepts, imaginations, and ideas. St. Augustine in the late fourth century reinforced the importance of music for the process of learning when he wrote that nothing could be truly understood without music. This book shows how this, in fact, is the case—a message of great relevance today.

Nancy van Deusen is professor of music at The Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

Awards

2012 Outstanding Academic Title—Choice, January 1, 2013

Reviews

"This is an excellent and in many ways important, much-needed book. . . . One of the author's best accomplishments in this book is the reestablishment of the idea of medieval music qua music and not just as theoretical parlor game, as it is so often portrayed. Summing Up: Highly recommended."—Choice, August 1, 2012
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