Performance and the Middle English Romance (Studies in Medieval Romance, Volume 17)

October 31, 2020
Performance and the Middle English Romance (Studies in Medieval Romance, Volume 17)

An examination of if and how medieval romance was performed,uniquely uniting the perspective of a scholar and practitioner.Although English medieval minstrels performed gestes, a genreclosely related to romance, often playing the harp or the fiddle,the question of if, and how, Middle English romance was performedhas been hotly debated. Here, the performance tradition is exploredby combining textual, historical and musicological scholarship withpractical experience from a noted musician. Using previouslyunrecognised evidence, the author reconstructs a realistic model ofminstrel performance, showing how a simple melody can interact withthe text, and vice versa. She argues that elements in MiddleEnglish romance which may seem simplistic or repetitive may in factbe incomplete, as missing an integral musical dimension; metricalirregularities, for example, may be relics of sophisticatedrhythmic variation that make sense only with music. Overall, thestudy offers both a more accurate comprehension of minstrelperformance, and a deeper appreciation of the romancesthemselves.