The Shape of Medieval Music to Come

by Vox Vulgaris

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Gavin Abercrombie
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Gavin Abercrombie Finally! I've been hoping and hoping for years that Vox Vulgaris would put this back out. The music is tight and unlike any music I have heard. Every listen reveals some new element. Now I wonder if there is more to the witty liner notes?
Chris
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Chris The release of this album was long overdue! Simply fantastic music and i'm relieved to find you in the corner you've declared. Hopefully there'll be more music ahead! Favorite track: La Suite Meurtriére.
scottishjon
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scottishjon I've long been waiting to buy a copy of this album, and at last it has happened. This album will be playing on repeat next time I reread Umberto Eco's Baudolino. Top-notch music. Second-favorite track: La Suite Meurtriére. Favorite track: Rókátanc.
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about

post-authentic / pre-apocalyptic / anti-medieval

"The Shape of Medieval Music to Come" is Vox Vulgaris's first album, and the only one so far. It was self-released on CD in 2003, with no distribution except at live performances. All remaining CDs were destroyed a few years later, yet the music survived thanks to file-sharing networks and eventually reached an audience of millions.

The album’s last track is an interpretation of music found in a painting by Hieronymus Bosch; the piece included what some ten years later would become famous as “Butt Music” or “Butt Song from Hell”. In the liner notes, the song was proudly presented thus:*

𝘏𝘪𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘺𝘮𝘶𝘴 𝘉𝘰𝘴𝘤𝘩 (1450–1516) 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳. 𝘝𝘰𝘹 𝘝𝘶𝘭𝘨𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘳. 𝘈𝘭𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 500 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩, 𝘸𝘦 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳 𝘢 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 "𝘋𝘦 𝘫𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘬𝘢 𝘧𝘳ö𝘫𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘴 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘴" (“𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘎𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘌𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘭𝘺 𝘋𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴”), 𝘢 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘪𝘦𝘤𝘦 𝘉𝘰𝘴𝘤𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘢 𝘮𝘢𝘯’𝘴 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘱𝘵𝘺𝘤𝘩 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦.

𝘈𝘭𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘰𝘯 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘔𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘢𝘭 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘰 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘥𝘶𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘪𝘥𝘥𝘭𝘦 𝘈𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘔𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘢𝘭 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭. 𝘠𝘦𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘸𝘢𝘺. 𝘙𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘣𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘥, 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘨𝘰𝘢𝘭 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘢 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘳𝘥 𝘸𝘢𝘺, 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘢𝘭 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘯.

𝘖𝘶𝘳 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘢𝘭 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘢𝘭 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘢𝘵 𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦. 𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘪𝘥𝘥𝘭𝘦 𝘈𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘪𝘨𝘴, 𝘯𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘬𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦 𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘴, 𝘸𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘳𝘵𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘢𝘭 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘵𝘺 – 𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘴, 𝘢𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘬𝘴, 𝘧𝘭𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴.



Yet as it happened, the group’s proud declarations would come to nought. Vox Vulgaris had set out to attack both the romanticized image of the Middle Ages and modern attempts to authentically recreate medieval music – they had even lashed out at the concept of “medieval music” as such. Nevertheless, because of social media, their music soon came to count among the most disseminated and easily available renditions of “medieval music” ever produced. Despite the group’s countervision of the Middle Ages and the musical butt they had flashed in the face of both academia and subculture, their music typically reached its audience by way of Youtube slides depicting crusaders, castles, and other icons of an imaginary medieval past. Most bizarrely, their music was being appropriated in a cultural war they could not have foreseen, by people trying to anchor their own distinctly modernist political projects, categories and identities in medieval Europe.

The group’s dismissal of such political projects was, however, available already in the songs and melodies they had recorded, and for anyone who cared to listen. Just as medieval musicians depended on the Orient for musical influences and instruments, so did Vox Vulgaris draw heavily on the Muslim and Jewish, Arab, Persian and Turkish traditions for inspiration, mixing instruments and performance practices from across the borders in a manner analogous to that of music making in medieval Europe.

In "The Return of the Middle Ages", Umberto Eco, the most medieval person to survive into the 21st century, wrote:

“𝘞𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘥𝘶𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘔𝘪𝘥𝘥𝘭𝘦 𝘈𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵. 𝘛𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘵𝘺𝘱𝘦 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮 𝘰𝘧, 𝘪𝘧 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵, 𝘪𝘧 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘰𝘳 𝘪𝘧 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘻𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘵, 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘵.”

After several years of hibernation Vox Vulgaris have once again set out to complicate our romanticized, polarized, politicized and all too modern ideas of medieval music.

Vox Vulgaris 2019


*We have since learnt that we were not the first, it was recorded already in 1978 by Atrium Musicae de Madrid.

credits

released May 1, 2003

Jon Cullblad
Rasmus Fleischer
Joel Lindefors
Max Persson

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Some rights reserved. Please refer to individual track pages for license info.

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Vox Vulgaris Stockholm, Sweden

post-authentic
pre-apocalyptic
anti-medieval

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