However, while the work of Conner and others is indicative of the many insights that can be gained from imaginative recreations of ancient music, this is not the focus of my practice. Instead, I was interested in exploring the more abstract aspects of the text’s emotional, affective content. I was drawn to Lucile Desblache’s idea that, in using untranslated medieval Occitan texts in the opera L’Amour de loin, Kaija Saariaho emphasised a sense of timelessness.3 I was keen to investigate the ways in which my use of Old English poetry might achieve similar results. If the core of Wulf and Eadwacer relates to universal themes of interpersonal relationships and human emotions, why should my musical response be limited to an imagined idea of a particular historical moment?
Nonetheless, while much of the content of Wulf and Eadwacer appears timeless, its context is not. In their written form, early medieval texts arguably carry a far greater sense of orality than modern text-based media. As Stephen Roger Fischer has noted, the idea of reading in most medieval European languages denoted reading aloud; reading was not a silent activity.4 Texts such as Wulf and Eadwacer, as sonic artefacts of an early medieval oral tradition, have become fossilised in the silence of the printed page. Consequently, my research questions arose from the desire to reclaim the orality of early medieval language and to engage with the vast spectrum of vocal sound.