AsianForum 135th "Musicians West and East: Where did Medieval European Musicians Come From?"

Tuesday,November 8,2011

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Asian Forum
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Conference Room 203/204, Dialogue House 2F上尾信也 (Agario Shinya)
Research Fellow, Institute of Asian Cultural Studies楽師の西と東ー中世ヨーロッパの音楽家はどこから来たのか
(Musicians West and East:
Where did Medieval European Musicians Come From?)

The origins of classical music and of musical notation (the staff with its five horizontal lines) used throughout the world today should be seen within the context of ethnomusicology of what is now known as “world music.”

There was an explosion of new musical forms in Europe in the medieval period, marked by the Gregorian Chants of the Roman Catholic Church and the orchestral music that took advantage of a variety of new musical instruments. By the 12th century, secular music and musicians made their appearance.

Where did these musicians come from? One set of explanations looks to the Arab and Islam world. The troubadours of the court and the jongleurs in the street in the 12th century, their performance style and their instruments may well have come to the Mediterranean world by way of what we now call the Middle East. The issue, however, has not been fully resolved. Some scholars, for example, look to ancient Rome for the origins of medieval forms of music, while others look further East.

We may never be able to give a definitive answer to this question. My talk will explore links to the Eastern Roman Empire and lines of cultural transmission between Asia and the Mediterranean world. We can try to re-examine the reception of new forms of music in medieval Christian Europe and the reception given to the musicians and performers. While the musicians and the sounds of their music has long vanished, we can derive valuable hints from textual and non-textual sources, including musical scores, instruments, paintings and other visual materials pointing toward Eastern origins of Western music.

Lecture in Japanese

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