I was listening to some medieval music the other day (yes, it might be a history person thing).  Though I was really enjoying it, I noticed was that the music was being played on contemporary instruments.  This gave the music a different sound than when I had heard the same piece played earlier on period instruments.  I began thinking about how “more authentic” using the older instruments was because that was how the people who originally composed and listened to the music being performed would have heard it.  The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that no matter what instruments are played, we cannot remove the “modern us” from the equation.  How different, often, are our expectations for music (instant access, performers can re-record as many times as necessary, etc.).  How different are the environments in which we hear it (concert hall, CD player in the car, iPod, and so on).  Finally, we can never erase the sense that we are listening to something historic, a product of a place and time that is not now.  No matter what, I listen with a modern mind and consequently, modern ears.  But I still listen appreciatively.

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