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Re: [ARSCLIST] "...before burying the phonographic records"

On 20/04/08, Steven C. Barr(x) wrote:

> The point is this...EVERY old phonorecord is a sonic sample of how
> music was performed in an otherwise-inaccessible past...! Likewise,
> photographs and motion pictures are equally valuable evidence of life
> as it was ONCE lived! Should you doubt this, try to imagine "real
> life" as it was in the 18th century and earlier...given that NO actual
> evidence (beyond written documents in a few cases...?!) is accessible
> to-day...?!
I don't think it is too hard to imagine everyday life in the 18C, as
there are many journals, memoirs, letters, portraits, artefacts,
buildings, music manuscripts, etc surviving.

For example, having been in Dr Johnson's house in London, I can fairly
easily imagine it furnished and in use. Sir John Soane's private museum
in Lincoln's Inn Fields is pretty well as he left it. 

As for the music, I think we have a much better idea now of what it
actually sounded like than we did 25 years ago. In particular, there are
now many carefully made replicas of 18C keyboard instruments, and
original instruments have been restored and recorded.

Right now, I am listening to a recording of some 17C suites by
Chambonnieres, played on a harpsichord made a few years after he died.
Maybe not as good as having a recording of Chambonnieres himself
playing, but much closer than you could have got in the 1960s, when
jangly modern harpsichords prevailed. 

This one has a beautiful rich sound, not unlike an acoustic guitar
played with the a plectrum, but bigger.

It does get harder when you go back to, say, the 12th century.

Don Cox

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