I was slightly disappointed that the liner notes didn't include any mention of how they reconstructed the music. That's probably a lot to ask from liner notes when there's a $220 book on the subject available. But I was hoping for a crumb or two.
I haven't finished listening to it yet, but three early impressions:
1) Yeah, that's chant. I really have to focus or else my mind wanders.
2) But if I do focus? Sweet. There's something about the melodic structure that makes it pop just a little more than some of the other chant I've listened to. I could see using some of this music for contrafacta. I've got a Cambridge Song - a haunting poem about a woman scouring the sea-shore for her absent lover - that I'd love to set to music.
3) Organum: wow. The CD opens with two monophonic pieces, and then the organum (early harmony) hits you. By modern homophonic standards, it's a thin, two-voice harmony at strange intervals. But after listening to extended monophony, it's just an amazing difference, like an orchestra suddenly swelling up from underneath a flute solo. Only not quite, because you're not suddenly lost in that sea of sound... eh, I'm not doing it much justice.
I've got Sequentia's "Edda" which makes similar switches between monophony and organum-like singing, and I don't find it nearly as affecting as this. Possibly it's a matter of pitch - Sequentia's paired singers are usually two women, whereas this recording features mostly male voices (there's one female soprano).
The Winchester Troper is an 11th-12th century manuscript containing some of the earliest music in England. There's a new facsimile edition out. The $220 price tag is rather steep, but it's also at the UMD Performing Arts Library (in the Reference section, alas, so no checking it out). The same scholars have put their learning into practice, with a CD of music from the Troper also available. At $47, the CD ain't cheap, either, but I may just have to pick it up.
I am finally, finally buying a Korg OT-120, an electric tuner that supports Pythagorean temperament! And, between the Amazon.com discount price and $50 of credit card "rewards" coupons, I'm getting it for under $25!
I think it's taken me so long because I had the Korg OT-120 pegged in my head as "expensive outlay." Over $100! I could buy several books or CDs for that! But it's also really well past time I got it. My ear isn't good enough to do "circle of fifths" unassisted tuning; I can barely hear the resonance on the wire harp and don't hear it at all on my other instruments. Even on wire, I seem to hear it quite a few cents on either side of true tone, so I just don't trust myself to get it right that way.
Gut strings will likely be the next major investment; we'll see how long it takes for me to get around to that.