Art has the power to transport us across space and time. It’s a trick that came in handy during the pandemic when many of us spent our shelter-in-place days getting deep into artistic hobbies. \r\n\r\nMany of us re-styled the classics, Netflixed our way through film history, or made an impressive amount of bread. In London, a classically trained musician got really into medieval music. \r\n\r\nThen they mixed it with rap. Then it went viral. \r # The Art of the Medieval Remix\nLondon-based Beedle the Bardcore prefers to be known by their persona and their avatar: Botero’s Pope Leo X. It’s a multilayered reference: [a remix of Raphael’s Renaissance original] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_of_Leo_X_(Raphael)), [an homage to the banality of taking history too seriously](https://www.wikiart.org/en/fernando-botero/pope-leo-x-after-raphael), and [a viral internet entity](https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjjvMbyhvL4AhXkK0QIHfuyAdIQFnoECAgQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fknowyourmeme.com%2Fmemes%2Fy-tho&usg=AOvVaw3C8gzzy02RS6J6Rar8C_NY), perfect for Beedle who creates bardcore— irreverent medieval remakes of pop music with the skill of a master artist and the likeability of a meme. If you’ve never heard bardcore before, take a minute to pop in your AirPods and listen to [The Real Slim Shady, Bardcore Version](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3okjFDo2aSU). For any fan of early-aughts rap, the song is immediately familiar. But the instruments are different. Instead of synthesized sound, there’s dulcimer under a high ceiling. The boom of a bass drum replaces electric ones, and a wooden flute plays the chorus in medieval staccato.\n\nThe resulting vibe is specific: a party in a tavern. The date is medieval. The men wear hose, the women rock tunics. Maybe there’s a glass of mead in your hand. And Beedle the Bardcore has gotten hold of a hit from the future, and turned it into a middle-aged bop. # A Trick of Musical Time Travel\n\nBeedle can pull off this trick of musical time travel because they spent quarantine “falling in love with a lot of medieval instruments.” From the transverse flute to the nyckelharpa, Beedle learned to play some instruments, studied deep samples of others, and learned to make modern instruments sound period-appropriate. \n\nBasically, Beedle knows medieval sound. And after making a track a day for roughly 50 days, they know how to make it evocative. Put a recorder—a medieval instrument that, “in the wrong context can sound really silly”—in just the right spot in a rap classic, “and they can sort of transport you to the kind of world that you’re trying to evoke quite quickly and also sound really cool,” said Beedle. \n\nThat new sound is what Beedle is going for. Not one from a specific period—“the term medieval,” said Beedle, “is silly broad in a way. It encompasses a period of hundreds of years”—but a “medieval-y” cinematic sound that transports listeners to a familiar fictional version of the Middle Ages, a canvas upon which all sorts of stories can be told. # Why You Know What “Medieval” Sounds Like\nBeedle spent a lot of time with medieval instruments. But most people haven’t. So why do you know what “medieval-y” (and not, say, “Victorian-y”) sounds like? It’s because we’ve heard those instruments before. \n\nThe medieval period is one of the most revisited in art. From Chaucer to Rowling, we’ve been retelling stories of the Middle Ages since the Middle Ages. It’s the subject of the Getty Center exhibition, [Fantasy of the Middle Ages](https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/fantasy/)— open June 21–September 11, 2022. \n\n_Fantasy_ explores medieval influence on pop culture from *Game of Thrones* to video games. Set designs, Disney animation cells, costumes, and concept art appear next to examples of their medieval origins. And the exhibition explores why, when you see Dev Patel in his gold crown, or hear harpsichord in the *Lord of the Rings* soundtrack, our brains instinctively go, “that’s medieval-y.” <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZhCYn9aOxL4" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>\n\n# A New Chapter of Medieval History\n\nThere are other versions of Bardcore on YouTube—[Hildegard] does pop music, and *Star Wars* versions—but rap, Beedle reckons, helped “open up that world for people that wouldn’t feel like that was the place that they wanted to spend time.” \n\nRemaking, remixing, and sampling, says English professor Mickey Hess, is a way for musicians to “self-consciously place themselves in a musical history.” And, by mixing medieval with rap, Beedle has made his tavern parties part of the medieval canon. \n\nJust like we can imagine a potions class in every medieval castle, we can “[put the Renaissance homies onto Biggie Smalls.](https://www.tiktok.com/@samuel_mathu/video/6889117438143778050?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id6945527565390022150)” And our image of medieval women can borrow a bit of [WAP’s political audacity](https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a35567606/megan-thee-stallion-representative-maxine-waters-interview/) to become [Well-Armed Peasants](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhCYn9aOxL4): damsels who are not at all in distress, and demanding equal wages. Even rap legends Wu-Tang have helped cement rap’s medieval history by [co-signing Beedle’s remake of C.R.E.A.M.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J3eiCd57B0)\n\n\n : https://www.youtube.com/c/Hildegardvonblingin Beedle the Bardcore’s medieval rap is just one way that modern sensibilities have affected our views of the Middle Ages. If you’d like to discover more ways medieval times have influenced modern times, visit the *Fantasy of the Middle Ages,* or purchase the book online. And if you want to hear more from Beedle the Bardcore, they’re always taking remix requests [on their YouTube page](https://www.youtube.com/c/BeedleTheBardcore).