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Early, Late, what's the difference

Your Humble Blogger is not very knowledgeable about music. Considering how much time I spend listening, and how high a priority it is for me to listen to music I like, I hardly ever talk about music. That’s a shame, really, as I might enjoy talking about music more (back in my misspent youth, I misspent a lot of time talking about music, and enjoyed it a lot at the time) if I acquired the vocabulary.

Oddly enough, one of the genres of music I like best is one of the ones I really know nothing about. In my player, I’ve called it Early Music; I’m not sure what that means, though. It’s just a part of the Classical section of the record store. And, of course, I am vaguely aware the Early Music isn’t technically Classical (a bit of research yields that Bach isn’t technically Classical, either, which gives you an idea of the trouble conversing about this stuff). And as it happens, I’m not terribly fond of vocal Early Music (either choral or soloists); I like instrumentals. The lute, the viola da gamba. It’s consort music I like, I suppose. I have something like 18 artists (groups, composers, performers) in my player’s list under Early Music.

OK, here they are: The Baltimore Consort (three albums, and I don’t even have some of my favorites), Bare Necessities (two albums; most people would have them under folk, but to me they seem to fit in this category), Belladonna (their only album, and it’s lovely), Christopher Wilson (one album of sweet, if not terribly exciting, lute music), the John Renbourn Group (two fun albums, also found in the folk section of your local), Ensemble Unicorn (two great albums), Telemann (one album, brand new and so far I like it), Hespèrion XX (only one album, and not even my favorite of theirs), the King’s Noyse (one album), Musicians of the Globe (two albums, including a sampler), Paul O’Dette (three albums of lute music), Piffaro (two albums of Renaissance dance music), The Toronto Consort (one album, enh, too much hey-trolly-lolily-lo), The Virginia Company (local and co-lohhhhnial, one album), Steeleye Span (I put a lot of the early Hills of Greenmore stuff in this genre), Ockeghem (one album, mostly because an old college acquaintance sings on it), Kitka (again, not sure why this goes into the genre but it seems to).

I also have two albums of Christmas Music that are Early-Music-ish, one Maddy Prior and one Oxford Camerata. I’m not sure how to count those. The whole genre thing, as you may have guessed, Gentle Reader, is a source of confusion for me. I tend, for myself, to slide things into genres based on when and how I want to listen to them; I’d rather find John Renbourn when I’m looking for Early Music, and don’t want him showing up when I’m randomly selecting other stuff. None of this has much to do with when the music was written, or even in what style. I don’t want to listen to Christmas Music between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, even if it’s lovely, Latin, and fifteenth century. Well, I might make an exception for Gaudete; I like Gaudete. Although, just to be obnoxious, I should mention that I prefer the cover by the Medieval Baebes to either the kick-ass Steeleye Span version or the genteel Oxford Camerata version.

Anyway, given that information, Gentle Readers, who will give me recommendations? Or, more to the point, who will chat with me about the stuff I already like, and help me think about it? Who will tell me that she likes Wilson better that O’Dette, and why, and why Rumsey is better than either? And more important, who’s going to buy me this out-of-print box set?

Thank you,


me too me too i want suggestions!!!

(i've had to scrub "early music" and "classical" from my own shelving system. what does "early music" mean when there are current (if nostalgic) music scenes in asia playing song styles that are hundreds or thousands of years older than the start of the roman empire?)

(what's wrong with "world"? salsa and tejano musics are often filed under "world." yeah, no domestic latin fans; no domestic latin musicians; oy. klezmer is almost always there; while recordings in english from canada, UK, ireland, even jamaica, get filed as domestic. cajun music is very strange: virtually nobody who lives here speaks french, but cajuns are "folk", while nuyoricans aren't, unless they're doing jazz.)

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