“These pages have been written to explain a quaint aspect of French musical life under the reign of Louis XV. The hurdy-gurdy (Vielle à roue), which so far had been customarily an instrument used by beggars playing on streets corners (lira mendicorum), unexpectedly became the object of a sudden and powerful enthusiasm. From 1725 to 1765, with more than two hundred published pieces of music, it invaded the world of aristocracy and even conquered the royal family. In this study, we are making an attempt to understand the reasons for that sudden and ephemeral passion.
Our thesis is that the hurdy-gurdy became an instrument destined to serve the myth of Arcadia, commonly believed in during that period of time, by representing the image of the idealized countryman, a central character of the eighteenth century, with whom "personnes de qualité" tried to identify themselves. In order to remove and purify it from any memory of its association with beggars and to make it become the Lyre of Apollo, the manufacture, the playing, the repertory of the hurdy-gurdy had to be completely transformed. The challenge was also to promote an idealized country life so as to make the hurdy-gurdy an instrument worthy to enter the Pantheon of the noble instruments of the aristocrats. As to the repertory, is it possible to say that the hurdy-gurdy is suitable for any high-level music score? Or rather should we say that it could serve only the country repertory, which is then to be defined as music of a rustic and popular style, even though completely transformed by the highly technical task of adjusting music to the baroque taste, which we call "Baroquisation"
Let us add that we worked within the interdisciplinary framework not only of Musicology (by the study of performance techniques and repertory analysis), but also of Psychoanalysis, Mythology and sociology. ..“
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Category: Academies/Academia/Early Music Study/Institutions
Added on: Jul 28, 2009 | Hits: 607