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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the 1960s, recordings and performances of preclassical music brought new sounds to musical performers, creators, and audiences. Through play with new sounds and with ideas about the past, medievalist popular music helped to shape the range of meanings associated with “the medieval” for scholars as well as audiences. At first, early music sounds, especially that of the harpsichord, were used for their novelty, becoming fashionable and hip by the mid-1960s, first in London (as seen in recordings by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Zombies, and Procol Harum; this trend fed into 1970s prog rock) and then, following the British Invasion, in the United States (particularly the Left Banke in New York and the Beach Boys and the Doors in Los Angeles). Some folk-rock performers used early music sounds to signal the past, drawing on tropes of nostalgia and medievalist fantasy (e.g., Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” [1966] and the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” [1967]).

Keywords: the Beatles, folk rock, harpsichord, nostalgia, baroque

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