In medieval manuscripts, music was both heavenly and hellish

Details from the funeral procession of Reynard the Fox

Details from the funeral procession of Reynard the Fox. from a Book of Hours, England, ca. 1300 (W.102, fols. 73r, 74v, 75r, 75v)/Walters Art Museum

Writing about music — the famous saying sometimes attributed to Elvis Costello — is like dancing about architecture. Seeking clarity in the synaesthetic may be extremely difficult, but as a new exhibit at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore demonstrates, painting musical subjects can be extremely revealing, nuanced and instructive.

The 21 medieval and Renaissance objects in the Walters exhibit “Seeing Music in Medieval Manuscripts” through Oct. 12, collectively make a compelling case for an artistic program designed to highlight the multidirectional and often contradictory significance of music and the roles it has played in both religious and secular life…

Read more of my article “In medieval manuscripts, music was both heavenly and hellish” in Arlington Catholic Herald.

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