PEEKING BEHIND THE CURTAIN
In its penetration (through publications like Musica Nova or Buus’s ricercari) of the instrumental domain, long the bastion of the unwritten and the spontaneous, the ars perfecta can seem to embody a crowning triumph for literacy. All that was captured, though, was the elite protruding tip of a huge iceberg. The vast majority of instrumentalists continued as before to perform by a combination of ear, hand, and memory. Even church organists more often improvised their accompaniments to liturgical action than read them off their music rack. (And they still do; organists are perhaps the only literate musicians who still receive training in the art of improvisation.) Even those who did read their music (or rather, Buus’s or Willaert’s music) off the rack did not read it literally, the way we might imagine them doing on the basis of our own education and experience. Again a reminder is due that literacy has never totally eclipsed orality, even in those repertoires and fields of practice where it can seem most firmly ensconced. And there is no reason to expect that it ever will.
- Citation (MLA):
- Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 15 A Perfected Art." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2015. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-015012.xml>.
- Citation (APA):
- Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 15 A Perfected Art. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 31 Jan. 2015, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-015012.xml
- Citation (Chicago):
- Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 15 A Perfected Art." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 31 Jan. 2015, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-015012.xml