William T. Flynn

title.none: Duffin, ed., A Performer's Guide to Medieval Music (William T. Flynn)

identifier.other: baj9928.0202.005 02.02.05

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: William T. Flynn, University of Leeds,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Duffin, Ross, ed. A Performer's Guide to Medieval Music. Performer's Guides to Early Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. Pp. ix, 596. 44.95. ISBN: 0-253-33752-6.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.02.05

Duffin, Ross, ed. A Performer's Guide to Medieval Music. Performer's Guides to Early Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. Pp. ix, 596. 44.95. ISBN: 0-253-33752-6.

Reviewed by:

William T. Flynn
University of Leeds

For over a decade, the principal manual in English for performers of medieval music has been the Norton/Grove handbook Performance Practice: Music Before 1600, edited by Howard Mayer Brown and Stanley Sadie (London, 1989, New York, 1990). The same publishing group (under its Schirmer subsidiary) later brought out another work devoted to performance issues, but in a more introductory and popular style: Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music, edited by Tess Knighton and David Fallows (New York, 1992). With two such useful volumes available, it may seem doubtful that a new full-length manual would be considered necessary. However, there are three things that could justify this. First, if a new volume called upon a different set of authors, or gave scholars and performers the opportunity to cover a topic which they had not covered in the earlier manuals, it would contribute a wider range of published opinion in this notoriously contested field. Second, a new manual would update the older ones by consolidating the last ten years' scholarship and by reporting on achievements in performance. Third, it would be useful if a new manual could serve as a single-volume reference, both orienting the newcomer to the topic and containing enough technical material and references for more experienced performers.

This new guide partially addresses all three desiderata, and is thus a welcome and useful addition to the field. Most of the authors do not appear in the other two manuals, and those who do, write on different topics. The majority of the authors also report on recent scholarship and approaches to performance. The volume, weighing in at over 600 pages, contains information suited to all levels. However, because of a very light and often inconsistent editorial hand, the book is far less useful than it could have been. In particular its lack of consistency in presentation, use of very little cross- referencing, inadequate indexing, and the wide diversity in implied target audience adopted by its thirty authors, make what could have been a splendid book into sets of individual essays loosely gathered around the same topic.

The basic structure of the book is clear and well-organized, with forty chapters grouped into twelve sections under three parts: Part One (Repertoire) focuses on specific styles, genres, notations or regions, and consists of the following sections I. Sacred Music, II. Non-Liturgical Monophony, III. Lyric Forms post 1300, and IV. Drama. Part Two (Voices and Instruments) consists of: V. The Voice in the Middle Ages, VI. Bowed Strings, VII. Plucked Strings, VIII. Winds, IX. Keyboard and Related Types, X. Percussion, XI. Instrumental Usage. Part Three (Theory and Practice) has a single subheading: XII. Essential Theory for Performers.

The editor envisions that a potential user of the book will have either a specific repertoire or specific performing forces in mind and thus will start with an appropriate chapter from either Part One or Two. Because of this, the book has only a short preface that explains its basic structure, but does not give a general introduction to the field, its literature, or past approaches to its problems. Oddly, such introductory materials are relegated to the end of the book, where the five chapters that comprise Part Three (section XII) cover issues that are common to all performers of any medieval repertory. One suspects that the editor did not want to overwhelm the novice with a lot of 'theory' before they proceeded to the repertories or the instruments, but the result is to make the book considerably less accessible to novices who may well be put off by fairly complex and detailed treatments of topics which are "introduced" in the last part. Furthermore, the barrier presented by the misplacement of the introductory material is compounded by the fact that cross-references to and from this part are scanty at best and more often non-existent.

In fact, the five chapters of Part Three are full of practical information which is simplified (but not overly simplified) and they contain very full references in notes. The most successful of these are William Marht's essay "Gamut, Solmization andModes" (chapter 36), Lucy Cross's "Musica Ficta" (chapter 37) and Alexander Blachly's discussion of tempo and "Proportion" (chapter 38). All three of these chapters mix the authors' practical experience of using the theoretical constructs that they describe with a sound introduction to their basis in medieval theory and practice. I have reservations about some minor points, such as Mahrt's contention that the tetrachord was principally "a theoretical construct" while the hexachord was more substantially "pedagogical" (483), and to my mind, the chapter does not provide enough information on how to mutate between hexachords: a performer new to the practice would have to follow up his reference to Robert Wegman's article in the Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music (265-274). The inclusion of even better examples than Wegman's would have taken up little space and would have been valuable for novices, especially considering that practical experience of solmization is necessary in order to understand chapter 37.

In this chapter, Cross has supplied a lucid, practical and very useful discussion of one of the central problems in both musical editing and musical performance: musica ficta. The extensive bibliography which appears in her notes demonstrates the importance of the topic to both performers and scholars. Practically, most musicians first encounter this topic in the suggested chromatic inflections generally given as "editorial" in a modern edition. This implies that the inflections are in some way optional, or less a part of the music than notated 'accidentals' in the manuscript. As Cross rightly argues, the misunderstanding arises because the modern conception of a musical text includes the fixing of its chromatic inflections, whereas earlier notational practices were dependent upon (more or less) agreed theoretical and performance practices (not the least of which was solmization). Thus, earlier notations did not require notated chromatic inflections and what appear to be 'accidentals' are actually references to an altogether different set of conventions than ours. In general, Cross very helpfully clarifies the earlier conventions, equipping a performer to begin to assess an edition or manuscript by applying a series of five simple guidelines. My one reservation with the chapter is that Cross sometimes seems to dismiss the importance of paying careful attention to the manuscript evidence, claiming that "contrary to expectation, scribes were not ordinarily musicians; indeed, the more they exercised musical judgement, the more likely they were to edit the music to suit themselves". (497) Her fifth guideline states: "The [other] guidelines may be followed with confidence, even when the notation contradicts them". (503) While I would argue that one always ought to be aware of the contrapuntal conventions that are described in Cross's other guidelines, I would also argue that notations in manuscripts which seem to contradict those conventions should not be confidently smoothed over, but should instead cause a performer or editor to take extra care. However, such unuanced guidelines are rare in this chapter and balanced by some excellent "hard cases" which admit to several interesting and reasonable solutions.

Blachly's chapter on "Proportion" starts very well, surveying problems in interpreting rhythmic notation for the whole period from the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries. It has numerous examples from modern editions and demonstrates how the original notations clarify proportional relationships which are necessarily obscured in modern scores. The chapter occasionally suffers from too much unexplained technical language, particularly in his discussions of Italian music of the fourteenth century (trecento): "Marchetus does not explain two divisiones found in the earliest musical sources, senaria perfecta and quaternaria....He does mention senaria perfecta but dismisses it as an independent divisio, arguing that it already occurs in duodenaria (i.e., that the six semibreves minores of duodenaria constitute the true senaria perfecta, which therefore cannot contain any semibreves minime)." (525) Of course, every field has its own jargon, and all of these terms would be very familiar to any musician who had had a good course in medieval notation. One does wonder, however, whether this discussion (which comprises four pages) is useful for the book's target audience. It does include one of the rare cross-references in this volume to "a fuller discussion" by the same author in chapter 15, "Italian Ars Nova", but it does not refer to the example (217-21) that helps make sense of the technical discussion in chapter 38.

The other two chapters covering introductory material are less successful but still very useful. William Marht's chapter 39 "Notation and Editions" is a short plea for singing from original or very lightly edited reproductions of original notations. It has a particularly useful section on practical interpretation of two key issues: rhythmic "imperfections" and ligatures. These features of medieval notation seem always to give more trouble to novices than they ought, perhaps because the simple ground rules are seldom so lucidly explained. Nevertheless, the chapter's weakness is that it does not deal enough with using editions critically. I suspect that Mahrt's strategy is designed to encourage performers to use original notations more or less from the outset, but I wonder whether this would be seen as a psychological obstacle by potential readers of this book. Many performers are likely to start learning the repertory with modern anthologies and editions, and only as they become aware of what is obscured in them does the plea to return to the sources make sense. If the editor had supplied cross-references to the numerous discussions of dealing with editions that are found in many chapters of the book, Mahrt's chapter would seem more obviously useful. For example, Alejandro Planchart's lucid description of how to read the modern marks that indicate the ligation patterns of modal rhythm (33-39 of chapter 2, "Organum") is rounded out very nicely by Mart's discussion on p. 536. (Other such missed opportunities are far too numerous to list here.) The practical section is concluded by the editor's chapter 40, "Tuning" which contains a very interesting discussion of how theoretical tuning systems are modified in both medieval and contemporary practice. It is marred only by unwieldy tables which often obscure the discussion and might have been better formatted.

All of the issues raised in general and (largely) elementary terms in Part Three are applied to specific repertories in Part One and to instruments in Part Two, but whether in a conscious attempt to make the three sections independent of one another, or as a result of the illogical placement of the introductory material, large amounts of information are repeated, and much that seems introductory is included in the more specific chapters. Since "each repertoire chapter [in Part One] typically includes information on historical background, forms, language, notation, performance forces and so on," and each instrument chapter (in Part Two) offers "information on usage, surviving specimens and iconography, tuning and technique" (x), there are large areas of overlap among the three parts, especially in topics such as notation, tuning, performance forces and repertory. Although this makes for a very large book, it is not necessary a fault, for it allows for interesting differences of opinion. Unfortunately the differently nuanced assessments of (for example) the possible uses of instruments in late-medieval polyphony are never brought into productive juxtaposition through cross-reference: "So even though instruments may have performed with voices on special occasions, we must assume that most polyphony performed in church was sung a cappella" (74) compared with "With the notable exception of the Bellini painting of the Venetian Scuola Grande, it is difficult to prove that fiddles played part-music with voices. On the other hand, it is in my view counter-intuitive to posit that all groupings of voice-plus-two or more instruments (like the trio in the Tacuinium Sanitatis) invariably performed monophony."(313) A reader starting with the repertoire chapter may well be excused for not thinking to look under the instrument chapter covering the vielle for this slightly differing and interesting perspective. Again, such lapses in cross-referencing are legion and too numerous to describe fully here.

The sheer range of information covered in Parts One and Two make it impossible to give more than a cursory glimpse of the contents of each chapter, so in listing the book's contents, I will focus on sections which seemed to me to be either particularly well done and thought-provoking, or on obvious lapses in either coverage or presentation: sometimes a chapter will have elements of both, as in the opening chapter (Part One, Repertoire, I. Sacred Music) "Chant". This is a very helpful and original chapter in which Mahrt specifically avoids covering territory already covered in other manuals and sticks to very basic but important issues that both novices and professionals can benefit from, such as appreciating the spectrum of relationships between text and music in chant, the role of memorization, etc. The chapter also contains a thought-provoking and useful consideration of the concept of "historical" performance in relation to a repertory that still has ritual functions. The chapter does, however, have a problem in coverage. Since Mahrt uses an analytical tool (text-music relationships) to designate chant genre, he does not cover traditional genre designations. Into this gap falls most discussion of post-Gregorian forms of chant, especially sequences and tropes. The subsequent essay by Alejandro Planchart, chapter 2 "Organum", partially makes up for this, since one of the principal sources of early organum contains great numbers of these two forms, but Planchart's focus is necessarily on polyphony. Moreover, the curious decision to confine the second main section of the book to "II. Non- Liturgical Monophony" means that Charles Brewer's discussion of Latin monophonic song in chapter 6 never hints at the hundreds of manuscripts containing thousands of examples of these (liturgical) genres nor does it orient the performer to the available editions and scholarly apparatus. This means that although various authors refer to sequences (for example) on no fewer than twenty-six pages, the form is never thoroughly introduced.

Planchart's chapter on organum (referred to above) and his other essay, chapter 4 "Polyphonic Mass Ordinary", are models of comprehensive updating of material. The latter chapter is particularly helpful in consolidating recent archival work relating to performance forces. However, I wonder whether some of his comments may unintentionally put some performers off from attempting the repertory. For example, he states "probably no one should attempt a performance of any of the surviving examples of organum of the tenth and early eleventh century who has not made a determined effort to gain some experience in improvising the so-called free explained in the Musica Enchiriadis as well as the kinds of organum described in Guido d'Arezzo's Micrologus." (25) This is no doubt true, but a note explaining that this is not really a very daunting task and providing references to translations of these and similar treatises (such as Walter Babb's translations of Hucbald, Guido, and John on Music, Yale, 1978), would encourage performers to do the necessary preparatory work . Moreover, cross-references to chapters 34 and 35 which discuss improvisation would have been welcome.

Julie E. Cumming's chapter 3, "Motet and Cantilena" is not quite so successful as Planchart's syntheses, even though it shows just as an impressive knowledge of recent research. Her comments on notation, such as those on page 62, are insufficiently contextualized, which makes it difficult to see how a performer might use them. They are not detailed enough to help much in reading original notation, nor is there an example showing how knowing the original notation might influence one's encounter with a modern edition. It is possible that one could glean enough information from the notation chapter in Part Three to make this supplementary information useful, but that would be asking a great deal from a novice, especially without cross-references. Cumming's presentation of information on facsimiles and editions is especially good and one wonders why it was not made a model for the whole of the book. Her information is organized under clear headings and subheadings and not buried in notes as it is in other chapters. (For a particularly daunting example, see footnote 5 on page 180.)

The second large section of Part One (II. Non-Liturgical Monophony) is very competently edited by Elizabeth Aubrey, who wrote its "Introduction" (chapter 5) and its treatment of "Occitan" and "French" repertories (chapters 7 and 8). Her introduction is a fine summary of performance issues with a good reference bibliography and a refreshing avoidance of any easy answers. She addresses every contentious issue common to all the repertories in separate sections on rhythm and use of instruments. Each of the subsequent chapters contains additional information on these issues, geared to the specific repertory under discussion, as well as information on their historical background, language and its pronunciation and typical lyric forms. Chapter 9, "Iberian Monophony" by Manuel Pedro Ferreira contains much relatively recent research and engaging critiques of predecessors. There is a particularly interesting segment on Arabic rhythmic theory which refers to the author's own work on applying it to some of this repertory. Chapter 11, "Italian Monophony" by Blake Wilson also reports on his research into repertories of laude sung in the services and gatherings of Italian religious confraternities. As Blake mentions, the existence of such repertories puts a strain on what one might consider "Liturgical" and "Non- Liturgical". Hubert Heinen's examination of "German Monophony" in chapter 12 has particularly insightful information on the problems of the modern contrafact tradition, useful guidance on German verse, normalized vowel lengths and other areas important for performance. Its excellent bibliography of sources and editions is unfortunately buried in densely packed footnotes. Two other chapters not able for their peculiarity round out this section. Judith Cohen's essay, chapter 10, on "Sephardic Song" appears in the book only because groups which perform medieval music also program this living and only recently documented repertory. Cohen suggests that performers make use of direct apprenticeship to living practitioners or at the very least the use of field recordings for transmitting the style. One wonders why a similar chapter sorting through the medieval and medievalist aspects of "Celtic Music" was not included. The other unusual discussion appears in Paul Hillier's chapter 13, "English Monophony." The chapter might have been improved by a fuller treatment of the manuscript fragments and survivals that constitute this tiny repertory, but on the whole, this chapter is more practical and interesting than many others, since it provides a model of how a performer might interact intelligently with a modern edition. The chapter contains very clever advice on early pronunciation and how to assimilate it, and especially good examples in modern notation of rhythmic nuances, demonstrating how to get musical results from many of the principal theories of rhythmic interpretation.

Part One, section III, "Lyric Forms Post 1300", addresses the repertories that arose in relation to a refined notational system and cultivation of polyphony in vernacular song. The section needs an introductory chapter similar to that in section II, which summarizes and out lines common material. Instead there is considerable repetition, particularly regarding notation, between its chapters. Charles Brewer states that he presents the "French Ars Nova" chiefly through the works of Machaut (191), but includes considerably more information than that. His practical advice on editions is very useful and is one of the places that could be cross- referenced to Part Three. He also has some useful advice concerning musica ficta, but his bibliography is outdated and is repeated (and expanded) in Cross's chapter 37 in Part Three. In general the chapter seems to be less focused on new research than most of the other chapters in the book and could have benefited in particular from considering recent analytical work by Sarah Fuller and Yolanda Plumley (both referenced in the volume). Alexander Blachly shows a much firmer command of recent literature in his chapter 15 "Italian Ars Nova". The chapter contains an important reflection on improvisation and transmission by oral culture prior to written transmission of much of this repertory (208), as well as a good description of solmization and its influence on musica ficta (216-217) that is not cross-referenced to Part Three. His very fine section on editions (221-223) adopts yet another format, consisting of narrative descriptions of each edition with full references in notes. It would be far easier to use the book if all repertory chapters listed editions and facsimiles in a classified bibliography at the end of each chapter as in chapter 3. Lucy Cross's chapter 16 on the so- called "Ars Subtilior" suffers from a lack of attention to recent scholarship that has interesting discussion of some performance issues: most notable is Anne Stone's suggestion that the extreme rhythmic subtlety of the notation may encode (in some pieces) an attempt to notate improvised embellishments. See her article "Glimpses of the Unwritten Tradition in Some Ars Subtilior Works," Musica Disciplina 50 (1996): 59-93. By stressing the difficulties in transcription and rhythm, and perhaps by paying too little attention to the often fairly simple underlying structure of much of this repertory, Cross may mislead performers into becoming overwhelmed by and bogged down in the surface detail. Duffin's essay in this section, chapter 17 "Early Du Fay", includes an interesting summary of the debates about instrumental participation in this repertory and very good links might have been made to Part Two of the book.

The final section of Part One, IV. "Drama", contains two chapters dealing respectively with "Liturgical Drama" (chapter 18) by Timothy McGee and "Vernacular Drama" (chapter 19) by David Klausner. Both chapters are rather shorter than one might have wished, are confined to the particular problems of editions, staging, and instruments that each repertory poses. McGee's references are almost cursory, but they do provide an adequate orientation to the subject, and this is one of the few chapters in the book to make good use of cross-references and references to the bibliography (this helps to explain its compactness). Klausner's orientation to the available editions is more comprehensive than McGee's and can be found in his detailed footnotes (261-263).

Part Two, "Voices and Instruments," offers information on instrumental "usage, surviving specimens, and iconography, tuning, and technique". (x) Section V "The Voice" is unlike any other part of the book and will be discussed later. The remaining sections all cover instrumental topics. Like the book as a whole, this large part is marred by misplaced or missing introductory material. The basis for such an introduction can be found in the last section XI, "Instrumental Usage". This begins with Timothy McGee's thoughtful assessment of the possible uses of "Untexted Repertoire" (chapter 23), which provides the necessary links between Parts One and Two of the book. McGee rightly argues for a broad number of possible instrumental uses of all untexted repertoires. This chapter could have been supplemented by a general consideration of the pitfalls involved in assessing iconographic evidence. Instead, the section must be supplemented by the essays by Elizabeth Teviotdale and Iain Fenlon in the Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music, pp. 179-209. This is not to say that the authors in this section handle iconography inadequately. Indeed, they generally handle it very well, but performers are given no aid in developing a critical awareness of the issues involved in using these important sources of evidence. Section XI ends with chapters on "Improvisation and Accompaniment before 1300" (chapter 34) by Margriet Tindemans and on "Ornamentation and Improvisation after 1300" by Ralf Mattes. Both of these chapters contain much material of interest not only to instrumentalists but to all performers of medieval music and perhaps should have been included in Part Three of this work. Furthermore, a consideration of vocal improvisation practices would have enriched the discussion of medieval improvisatory practices immeasurably. In particular, Tindemans' chapter would have been improved considerably if vocal improvisation practices has informed its practical but rather standard set of guidelines. On the other hand, Mattes' rather better documented chapter would have enriched and modified a discussion of post-1300 vocal improvisatory techniques.

Part Two, section VI, on "Bowed Strings", consists of a short discussion of "The Vielle before 1300" (chapter 21a) by Margriet Tindemans, its complementary discussion of "The Vielle after 1300" (chapter 21b) by Mary Springfels, chapter 22 on the "Rebec" by Sterling Jones and chapter 23 on the "Symphonia" by Robert Green. In general the focus on instruments leads the authors to be more generous with practical advice, such as where to find strings (322) and what compromises can be made in the event that a historically accurate reproduction cannot be obtained (328).

Section VII "Plucked Strings" consists of three mini-chapters on the harp (chapter 24a "Harp" by Herbert Meyers, 24b "Imagining the Early Medieval Harp" by Benjamin Bagby, and 24c "Playing the Late Medieval Harp" by Cheryl Ann Fulton) as well as a discussion of the "Lute, Gittern, and Citole" (chapter 25) by Crawford Young. The series of harp chapters reflect both the ubiquitous presence of the instrument and the scant securely interpretable information on it that Myers notes in his opening paragraphs. (330) Together the three essays make one of the more interesting contributions to the volume. Myers provides a careful assessment of the 'evidence'. Bagby, in one of the most original essays in the collection, tries to imagine the conditions that could evoke the literary hyperbole that harp performances sometimes invoked, and Fulton concentrates on details of technique and other practical considerations. Bagby starts his fascinating essay with a quote from Umberto Eco: "Everyone has his own ideas, usually corrupt, about the Middle Ages." One assumes that the reason for the quote is that Bagby is aware that his discussion (largely convincingly) relating descriptions of medieval harp playing to modern descriptions of mbira playing in Africa is daring and speculative. Even though inspired by this chapter, I could not help feeling that the descriptions also reminded me of modern music which can be found closer to home, such as the minimalist music by Philip Glass or the tintinabula style of Arvo Part. I was left wondering how one would be able to tell whether Bagby's suggestions were part of the "usual corruption" or an exciting new way forward. Young's chapter on "Lute, Gittern and Citole" was particularly well documented and contains interesting sections on the problems of classification and on tuning systems.

Section VIII "Winds" has chapters on "Flutes," "Reeds and Brass," (chapters 27 and 28) by Herbert Myers, and an intriguing chapter on the medieval "Bagpipe" by Adam K. Gilbert. Myers' chapters contain quite a lot of information on performance groupings and occasions. While the evidence that Gilbert assembles for his instrument seems ambiguous (potentially relying on classical references to the pipes of the muses, as he acknowledges), the chapter presents interesting possibilities and some well thought-out musical examples.

Section IX "Keyboards and Related Types" consists of three essays covering the "Organ" (chapter 29) by Kimberly Marshall, "String Keyboards" and "Psaltery and Dulcimer" (chapters 30 and 31) both by Herbert Myers. Marshall's brief chapter is exceptionally well-documented and up-to-date, containing a wealth of information and a careful assessment of the historical, organological and archival evidence. It provides ample references for those interested in pursuing the topic further. Reference to McGee's subsequent chapter 33 on "Untexted Repertories" would explain the otherwise curious lack of reference to manuscripts containing repertory that seems particularly suited for the organ. I would also supplement this chapter with Lewis Jones' essay "Fourteenth- and fifteenth-century keyboard music" (Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music, 131-137). Myers assembles enough evidence in his chapter on "String Keyboards" that one wonders why so few attempts have been made at making any of these instruments. I suspect that many performers of medieval music could find uses for what are essentially keyed monochords (433ff.). Information is considerably scantier and less reliable for the psaltery and dulcimer. Myers simply suggests that one consult standard reference works to untangle the knotty problem of interpreting the evidence for the former (as it is so often dependent on allegorical biblical interpretation), and discusses some iconographical evidence for the latter.

Section X consists of the single chapter 32 "Percussion" by Peter Maund who summarizes the scant evidence and provides relatively cautious suggestions for their use. Section V entitled "The Voice" consists of an interview of Barbara Thornton (who unfortunately died soon after her chapter was complete) by Lawrence Rosenwald, entitled "Poetics as Technique" (chapter 20). This chapter affords a special glimpse into a successful vocal performer's preparation and offers a fascinating insight into the integration and assimilation that goes into one performer's historical imagination. This chapter may be of more than passing interest to a wider audience of medievalists as it demonstrates how a consideration of ancient texts (e.g. Augustine's De Musica) and recent work in medieval studies (e.g. Mary Carruther's The Book of Memory, Cambridge 1990) may provoke a thoughtful response in performance that one would not necessarily anticipate. Oddly, for a chapter that stresses the interaction between text and song, the translations (often by Thornton) are very uneven in quality. Nevertheless, the chapter must count as one of the gems in the book. It is unfortunate that the masterful Thornton interview was not preceded by, or balanced with, any historical information on the voice or vocal technique. The editor explains this omission by contending that "since no medieval specimens survive, no depictions that can be measured, I thought it would be useful instead to have a more philosophical discussion involving one of the century's most respected and successful of singers of medieval music." (x) For important information, performers and students will have to refer to John Potter's essay "Reconstructing lost voices" in the Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music, pp. 311-316, and to Joseph Dyer's recent essay "The Voice in the Middle Ages," in The Cambridge Companion to Singing, ed. John Potter (Cambridge, 2000):165-177, 254-258.

Aside from the individual essays, a few other items of interest ought to be mentioned. The book contains a good select discography keyed to each chapter on pages 563-580. It would have been interesting if more of the authors had assessed specific items in the discography, but this would have lengthened an already long book. There is also a select bibliography on pages 581-593, but as the editor states "for complete documentation readers will need to refer to the notes for the various chapters as well." (x) The lack of a complete bibliography is already a common (and lamentable) practice for books of collected essays and should not be condoned in a work of reference such as this. The index is similarly unhelpful; for example(without cross-references) the only access to the diffusely scattered information on notation is the index entry which unhelpfully reads "notation, 533-42 and passim" (597). Finally certain features of the book just make it unpleasant to use: the paper is of minimally acceptable quality for archival purposes and there is frequent bleed-through because of music examples in the repertoire section and (poorly reproduced) photographs in the instrument section. The three major sections in the book are not marked by title pages, making it more difficult to move between the various sub-sections. There is almost no use of hyphenation, with a consequent opening up of unacceptably large spaces, which make the book more difficult to read than it need be.

In summary, this work while marred by its lack of editorial and production values, contains much of interest and value to performers of medieval music and some chapters that will be of interest to other medievalists. One hopes that the editor's "ultimate aim in producing such a unique volume" which is "to foster more performances of medieval music...and to invite a wider circle of musicians in accomplishing that task" (ix), will be met, but readers will have to work hard to extract what is of interest and value to them. The book as a whole is paradoxically somewhat less than the sum of its many good parts.