Linda Marie Zaerr is a professor of Medieval Studies at Boise State University, where she specializes in the interdisciplinary study of Middle English romance. She is the author of a book and many articles about performance in the Middle Ages, and she has produced a number of audio recordings and videos. She plays the medieval vielle and frequently performs medieval tales and music. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Washington, and an MA in Medieval Studies from the University of York, England.
Create music the medieval way, using a system Guido developed in the eleventh century to make music fun and easy. This presentation begins with a performance of several medieval songs accompanied by the vielle, a medieval bowed stringed instrument. This is followed by a brief introduction to the Music of the Spheres, explaining why we have the notes we do. Then participants are guided through Guido’s process. Guido’s motto is “Anything that can be spoken can be sung.” Using the monochord, an instrument with one string, members of the audience set any words they choose to music.
A single silk weaver in a small town struggles to balance conflicting responsibilities. A countess lashes out against a man who no longer loves her. A princess disguises herself as a male musician to find her way back to her lover. An abbess creates a complex music drama for the women in her convent. King Arthur is forced to answer the question “What do women most desire?” This presentation will expand notions of medieval women, demonstrating through story and song how similar the issues they faced were to those we face today.
In the first Grail story, Perceval wreaks havoc on an entire kingdom because he is afraid to ask a question. It is just as important today to pursue honest questions in research. In a world where we are encouraged to push disciplinary boundaries and think in new ways, there are still patterns that can be unnecessarily limiting. Medieval stories of Grail quests bring insight to what it might mean to pursue questions that move beyond the Round Table conventions of academia, and the Grail may turn out to be much bigger than anyone imagined.