(Re-)Assembling Notations in the Performance of Early Music

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This article draws on fieldwork observations of a vocal ensemble specialised in early music, describing the role of historical manuscripts in their creative process. It pursues two closely related questions: that of the status of the musical work as an agent of historical authenticity, and the type of creativity involved in this process of research, rehearsal, and performance. As such, it provides critical reflection on the use of concepts of material agency in the study of musical performance practices, and contributes to a reconsideration of the role of notation in musical creativity. It argues that historically informed performance may be considered as a form of experimental musical practice, in that it aims to cultivate new approaches to musical performance and in that its process may be described in terms of the testing of musical materials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-601
Number of pages21
JournalContemporary Music Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • notation cultures
  • non-human agency
  • early music
  • creativity
  • experimentalism
  • performing from manuscripts
  • ethnography of performance


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