This work is a critical analysis of craft internvention upon historic musical instruments. It is centred upon the tension between use and preservation that arose with the conflicting demands of the early music revival for working musical instruments,and of the conservation discipline for the preservation of these artefacts as documents of contemporary instrument-making and musical practices. A framework is developed around three regimens of function, termed Currency, Restitution and Preservation, within which the actions and rationales of craft activity on musical instruments may be characterized. Case studies of nine historic instruments are presented in order to demonstrate the derivation of both the technical and social factors that contributed to their changes in state and status during the period under study. Analysis of the actions taken upon the instruments in their historical and social contexts provides a novel understanding of the relationship between the desire for musical experience, and the need for historical and technical information. The work concludes with a discussion of a strategy for encouraging a balance between musical function and preservation, thus mediating between the conflicting demands
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