Music scholars at Cambridge University studied musical manuscripts without modern notation and after years of detective work, reconstructed what they would have sounded like. Plus: on this day in 1982 Key West, Florida declared independence from – and war on – the United States. For not very long.
First performance in 1,000 years: ‘lost’ songs from the Middle Ages are brought back to life (Cambridge University)
A song from a thousand years ago? That’s the original music by millennials.
Humans have been making music for about as long as we’ve been around.
Documenting that music is another story.
The modern Western method of notation is roughly a thousand years old and is credited to a monk called Guido from Arezzo, Italy.
Before that, there was a quasi-notation system called neumes, which would tell the singers details about each note and how they were to be sung, but not their pitches.
You’d know the next note was higher than the last, but it wouldn’t say what that previous note was.
Since songs were passed down through oral tradition, neumes were enough of a quick reference for most singers’ purposes.
Trouble is, those oral traditions sort of stopped many centuries ago, meaning we have songs written down that we can’t read, sing or play.
Or can we? Music scholars at Cambridge University studied the neumes in some of these musical manuscripts.
They used the knowledge we have about neumes and singing of the period, and tested out the possibilities that humans could actually sing, and they cracked the code.
Four years ago today, they performed some of these works that had not been heard in about a thousand years.
Key West, Florida did a notable thing today in 1982.
To protest a checkpoint on the way back to mainland Florida, they declared independence from – and war on – the United States.
It didn’t last long, but still the Keys celebrate the Conch Republic every April.