This thesis is an investigation of the ways in which musicians, and particularly those in the area of early music, view and interact with the notion of sustainability. Current discussion of sustainability highlights growing environmental problems and their related social and economic dimensions, but a fourth aspect – the cultural – is particularly relevant in music. Every discipline, including music, has a responsibility to contribute towards solutions to such problems.
Previous work carried out by the author and colleagues in a variety of academic disciplines resulted in the identification of a three-level model of conceptions of sustainability. An examination of the literature that conjoins music and sustainability reveals that the model is applicable in the field of music and that the great majority of the writings are based in ethnomusicology and the related developing field of ecomusicology. There is to date no explicit consideration of sustainability in the area of early music, an absence that is redressed in this thesis.
Examples are given to illustrate engagement with sustainability in early music at each level of the model of conceptions of sustainability. In these examples, the link between early music and sustainability is identified and brought to the foreground. The research thus provides a basis for discussion of the possible role of music, and particularly early music, in engaging with problems of sustainability in all their variety.