FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why do you need to study early music? Why can't you just play it?

Early music is ... like a language; you can't just read it aloud and 'get it instantly' .  But if you dance it, sing it, play it, and experiment with it, you can get a whole lot further.

Unfortunatley some early music was published with loads of added markings that fit 19th century style but have very little to do with what composers prior to the 19th century intended.  So, we like to erase away all those slurs...

What are the main periods in music?  Isn't all the early stuff medieval music?

Actually these have particular definitions. Below is a quick guide

medieval/middle ages  9th century or so to 1400's unknown, Alfonso X, Cantigas de Sancta Maria, Codees.. and other manuscripts...

renaissance/Tudor...  1400-1600 Byrd, Tallis, Dufay, Palestrina

baroque/rococco   1685-1750 or even 1780... Bach, Handel, Stanley...

classical - Mozart, Haydn   1750 (really even later) - 1820's  Beethoven is on the cusp here.

romantic ... 1820-1910 or so Schubert, Elgar, Richard Strauss
contemporary  sort of 1910 to ? John Cage, Bartok, Hindemith, Charles Ives

To make matters confusing it does not link up nicely with visual art..
So baroque art may not fit the same period as baroque music.
Labels came after the fact, not during.

Think of instruments:

medieval: drums, psaltery, rebec, gemshorn, shawm, early organ, first clavichord

renaissance: first harpsichords, sackbut (early trombone), crumhorns, renaissance recorders, viols, later violins

baroque: violins, not viols, one-key wooden flute, baroque oboe, natural horn, trumpet, baroque recorder

classical: clarinet, more complicated harps with pedals first, early pianos

romantic- more valves on brass instruments; more keys on woodwinds; metal instrument,  first metal strings for string instruments, grand pianos

contemporary: saxophone, electronic instruments, sythesizers, computer music, etc.