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Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1500 20211120T1550 America/Chicago French and Italian Song, 1600–1700 AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
Performing Humanism: Nostalgia for a Poetic Golden Age in Early Seventeenth-Century Solo Song
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

Tucked in among trendier works that make up the majority of monody books, "modo di cantar…" melodic formulas with simple continuo support attract little scholarly attention. These consist of music to which any poetry of a designated genre can be sung syllabically, and thus does not invite musico-literary discussion; they are dismissed as the rudimentary means by which rank amateurs, probably unable to sing more complex madrigals and airs, could sing lyric or epic poetry. And yet, as this talk argues, their very modesty suggests a more interesting scenario for their use: they enabled even the less musical members of literary circles to participate in an old-fashioned but intellectually prestigious practice of improvising sung performances of poetry in imitation of the golden age of humanism.

Blake Wilson has shown that improvising and performing poetry to the accompaniment of instruments such as the lira da braccio was central to the poetic culture of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Italy. The "modi di cantar" in early seventeenth-century publications occupy a tenuous position between this earlier classicizing practice and later virtuosic solo singing of lyric poetry by such courtly musicians as Caccini and Peri. Whether or not these formulaic melodies retain any concrete vestiges of earlier oral traditions, their presence in monody books attests to a continued interest in the singing of poetry not otherwise set to music.

"Modi di cantar" continue to appear in song publications into the 1640s, even as the compositions for specific poetry alongside them develop complex new forms. Such formulaic works show that humanistic practices retained their value long past Italy's humanist golden age, and that the "antiquarian" performance of humanism survived, even if in vestigial form. The ability to mimic in a modern context the old "singing to the lira" retained cultural value even when the lira itself was a distant memory.

Presenters
CB
Chelsey Belt
Indiana University
Representations of Jewish Masculinity in Northern Italian Comedy at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

In the late 16th century, northern Italy witnessed the emergence of musical collections linked through a loosely cohesive comic plot. The so-called madrigal comedy interwove and appropriated multiple musical, literary, and dramatic genres from disparate sources and performance traditions. Its proponents brought the plots and conventions of the commedia dell'arte together with popular, refined musical forms such as the madrigal, the villanesca, the canzonetta, and various types of carnival songs. The resulting products presented an imagined theatrical situation that framed the interactions of a variegated group of characters, some of whom embodied conventional constructions of otherness. These comedies ultimately bequeathed posterity with some of the few musical depictions of Jews dating from the early-modern period.

This paper will focus on the musical depiction and gendering of Jewish characters found in Orazio Vecchi's L'Amfiparnaso (1597), Vecchi's Le Veglie di Siena (1604), and Adriano Banchieri's the Barca di Venetia per Padova (1605). These pieces present interactions between Gentiles and Jews, the latter always male. By looking at the representational traditions from which the composers drew to construct their characters, this paper will show how they defined the aural characteristics of Jewish men, thus displaying an array of heretofore loosely connected tropes redolent of deeply entrenched anti-Jewishness. This paper will consider early-modern perspectives on sexuality, informing what historian Thomas Laqueur constructed as a "one-body model," to propose that these compositions define the Jewish characters as embodying an inversion of ideal masculinity. Sound and narrative effectively conspire to emasculate these characters, therefore reaffirming them as subjects, if not qualitatively inferior, to their Christian neighbors.

Presenters
PF
Paul Feller
Northwestern University
Teaching Girls How to Sing: Catholic Pedagogy and Bertrand de Bacilly's Spiritual Airs (1688)
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

The use of music in a child's education was an important part of the Catholic Reform in 17th-c. France. Memorization, facilitated by the addition of music to text, was crucial to the internalization of Catholic doctrine. Students had to memorize and sing the catechism, prayers, and hymns, and many, particularly girls, sang French sacred songs. The renown composer and singing teacher Bertrand de Bacilly promoted the use of his spiritual airs, published in 1688, making it clear that his airs should be the only songs used to teach girls how to sing in convent schools or at home.


In this paper, I argue that 17th-c. pedagogical practices-the use of maxims, emphasis on memorization and conversation, and theories on expressing the passions-are revealed not by what Bacilly says about his airs, but rather through his compositional strategies. The lyrics are religious maxims and easy to memorize; the airs are organized into groups that begin with a vocal prelude, followed by airs in the same key; the preludes are composed of musical phrases, challenging intervals, and florid ornamentation that appear in the following airs and help singers to warm up their voices and practice technical challenges. The airs are also made up of musical phrases similar to those found in profane airs, recognizable to anyone familiar with that repertory.


The level of repetition and memory-aids correlates with Kate Van Orden's study on singing and literacy in French schools which emphasizes the connection of orality to learning, recitation, and memory. She also suggests that even though boys learned the basic rudiments of music, they were taught principally by rote. Bacilly seems to have adopted similar pedagogical strategies. Teaching girls how to sing by rote would facilitate the memorization of both text and music. Instead of singing secular airs during their hours of recreation, girls had an appropriate alternative. Most important, the internalization of Catholic doctrine promoted by singing spiritual airs would help prepare girls to become pious women, ready to take their proper place in society. 

Presenters
CG
Catherine Gordon
Providence College
Indiana University
Providence College
Northwestern University
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