Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Medievalism in Music

Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

What promises are being made in the CD cover image here? Most noticeable in musical medievalism has been the popularity of chant from the mid-1990s onward, launched with the Benedictine Monks and continuing with the thriving of such groups as Anonymous 4, Sequentia, and others. Much of this is “ambient” music, effective because it creates a mood rather than demands the listener to hear an understandable text, or follow a beat, or register a tune. So it works better than elevator music — slow string versions of “Hey Jude” — where we still “know” the song. Chant usually works perfectly well as background music, and may subliminally convince us that we are virtuous and focused.

Legitimate chant, on the other hand, has also been “jazzed” up with a world-beat and electronic instrumentation.