This bold challenge to conventional notions about medieval music disputes the assumption of pure literacy and replaces it with a more complex picture of a world in which literacy and orality interacted. Asking such fundamental questions as how singers managed to memorize such an enormous amount of music and how music composed in the mind rather than in writing affected musical style, Anna Maria Busse Berger explores the impact of the art of memory on the composition and transmission of medieval music. Her fresh, innovative study shows that although writing allowed composers to work out pieces in the mind, it did not make memorization redundant but allowed for new ways to commit material to memory.
Anna Maria Busse Berger is Distinguished Professor of Music, emerita at the University of California, Davis. The book has won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award and the Wallace Berry Award from the Society of Music Theory. She was made an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society in 2019.