For most of our European-based history, we were over-generous in claiming credit for developments in art and culture that we actually borrowed and adapted from other cultures. We are correcting that bias, but we should not let a growing awareness of our global heritage dim our appreciation of the treasures of post-Classical Western civilization. Medievalists, always defensive in the face of apologists who teach that the Renaissance was the actual moment the West awakened from its long sleep, wait in patient longing for those who would read deeper and think more creatively (and dare one say spiritually?) about what those centuries bequeathed to humanity.
This recording begins with one gift from the Middle Ages that can be mined as pure gold. Imagine a world where music is rhythmic, percussivedriven— often sophisticated—but linear, like this line of type. Somewhere, someone had the absolutely new vision (even if it was thought to be a reinvention of a classical idea) of moving into the vertical realm. Music acquired an entirely new dimension, and from this evolved multiple-voice writing of all stripes, even the creation of a widely usable system of notating music. Here began Bach and the masters of polyphony; here began Beethoven and the possibility of a symphony; here began every ethnomusicologist’s ability to transcribe folk and tribal sounds from the world; here is jazz, here is pop, here is rock.