Debate: Authentic vs. Modern Instruments
One of the most important topics is whether to use authentic instruments. When a musician uses an authentic or replica instrument (such as a lute instead of a modern classical guitar, or a harpsichord instead of a piano), purists say that the fundamental meaning of the original music is only portrayed through the special aspects of the early instrument; use of a modernized instrument, they point out, forces the modern performer to change some notes and expressive gestures, such as volume and timbre. Proponents of the use of modern instruments in early music performance, however, believe that great music can be conveyed with modern, technologically advanced instruments, which generally stay in tune more consistently, are more standardized, and have louder sonic capabilities.
Tasks to assign:
· Find at least two recordings of instrumental early music to study: make sure one uses authentic instruments, and the other uses modern instruments (the music doesn’t need to be the same).
· Find pictures (physical pictures or digital to be shown on the screen – any medium) of the instruments to compare
· look up some additional thoughts on this debate
· choose 2 people to debate the issue in class (on Thursday)
· choose a moderator for the debate who will introduce the 2 sides and facilitate the process
· choose a facilitator to lead the class discussion
Group tasks (work together):
· write (or talk through and keep some notes) the important points to be covered in the debate
· come up with some answers to the follow-up question to guide the discussion
On the day of presentation:
· Mock debate
· Ask the following question to the entire class and get an assessment of their opinion by a show of hands: “If you needed to choose between two early music performances, one with early instruments and one with modern, which would you choose?” Continue the discussion by asking why.