Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Yri, Kirsten. “Corvus Corax: Medieval Rock, the Minstrel, and Cosmopolitanism as Anti-Nationalism.” Popular Music 38 (October 2019): 361-78.

The German “medieval rock” band Corvus Corax reinterprets texts and music of the Middle Ages as a means of avoiding the problematic connotations of folk (Volk) stemming from Nazi associations. Corvus Corax was formed in the late 1980s at the tail end of Germany’s Ougenweide scene, roughly parallel to English and American folk rock. Despite Ougenweide music’s popularity with student protest movements, the genre still struggled to distance itself from associations with Nazi Volksmusik. Like many Ougenweide groups, Corvus Corax initially drew from Middle High German texts as a further removed folk source Eventually, the band adopted its signature sound and look, blending aesthetics of medieval dance music, heavy metal, punk, and goth. In describing their aesthetic, band members often invoke the idea of the minstrel as the keeper of an oral music tradition. In creating their medieval rock, Corvus Corax borrows from a wide range of medieval to ancient melodies, including a Macedonian Oro, Ottoman song, ancient Chinese emperor hymn, and the Epitaph of Seikilos. Their 2006 “opera” Cantus Buranus is drawn from the same text source as Orff’s Carmina Burana, but strives to cast off the fascist associations by emphasizing the community of vagrants suggested in the text. Corvus Corax uses a universal and cosmopolitan framing of medieval German history as a political statement of inclusion and anti-nationalism.

Works: Corvus Corax: Viator (375), Tritonus (375), Seikilos (375)

Sources: Traditional (Macedonian): Skudrinka (375); Traditional (Ottoman): Neva Cengi Harbi (375); Traditional (Greek): Epitaph of Seikilos (375); Traditional (Chinese): Chou chou sheng (375)

Index Classifications: 1900s, 2000s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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