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Paper Session
Nov 12, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211112T1100 20211112T1150 America/Chicago Moral Philosophy AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
Hearing the Origins of Music c. 1785
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

One of the more curious episodes of the eighteenth century was the concern over the origins of music. Although readily associated with Rousseau's _Essai sur l'origine des langues_, origins narratives were all the rage; numerous writers imagined a musical prehistory to enact and even invent authoritative allegories for knowledge, language, and speech. Music and language, the story goes, shared a common genesis in the first imitative utterances of early humans, which operatically signified emotional states between speaker and listener. As expressions of desire, these passionate cries would later develop into articulated speech, allowing us to communicate more effectively over time.


This story, however, is incomplete. During the last decades of the century, Michel-Paul Guy de Chabanon restages this allegorical scene, listening anew to humanity's first guttural cries.  Unlike his predecessors, who rehearsed their common origin and subsequent divorce, Chabanon instead argues that music and language evolved from distinct sources and thus by antithetical means. Linguistic sounds are imitations of those heard in nature; but "musical sounds," Chabanon counters, "are not the imitation of the thing, they are the thing itself."


This presentation reveals how Chabanon's return to the origins of music engenders his broader theory of musical autonomy. In probing the difference, rather than the relationship, between music and speech, Chabanon advances a fundamental reconsideration of music as a self-referential semiotic system. Through close readings of his _De la Musique considérée en elle-même_ and its appended _Considérations sur les Langues­_ (1785), I show how the contextual clues to this line of inquiry rest atop eighteenth-century discourses on etymology and harmony, both of which position the "sonorous root" (_racine sonore_) as the first expression of vocality (_les premiers sons fondamentaux_). While the inquest into music's origin may be interpreted as a return to an unheard past, Chabanon's foray into this dispute represents instead a rehabilitation of the audible present. By using the history and progress of language as a pretext, Chabanon ultimately argues that "music is a language all its own," one inseparable from its foundation in the autonomous sound and thus its etymological (read: harmonic) origins.

Stoic Remedies: Music as Psychotherapy in Early Modern France
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

The application of musical sound as a remedy for physical and mental suffering was a through-line in the European cultural tradition–––offering miraculous and mundane treatments for everything from lovesickness to widespread civil discord. The most influential source of these views was the Pythagorean/Platonic lineage, which forged a connection between the vibrational harmony of the spheres and the proper working of bodies and souls on earth (Tomlinson 1993; Horden 2000; Chiu 2017). However, an alternate tradition of therapy with clear musical applications gained traction with the revival of Stoicisim, a broad intellectual and cultural movement that attracted significant Catholic and Protestant interest in France between the 1580s and the 1630s as a practical remedy for the disordered times. This psychological and cognitive approach to therapy was not dependent upon an enchanted worldview for its efficacy (although Stoicism upheld a belief in the divine), and its interest in music as a remedy went beyond the commonplace medicinal recommendations to enjoy music for health, relaxation, or bodily refreshment. Stoic therapy, in contrast, was built upon a richly detailed philosophy of mind and moral psychology. Although predicated on rationality, Stoic therapeutics remained deeply materialist and cautiously prized the sense impressions and perceptions of the body, a point that opens up fascinating lines of inquiry for an exploration of musical practices influenced by the Stoic tradition. 


Paschal de L'Estocart's polyphonic collections offer early musico-poetic examples of this Stoic resurgence, for the_Quatrains_the double collection of_Octonaires de la vanité du monde_and the_Sacrae Cantiones_(all published in 1582), feature settings of Stoic and Neostoic texts. At the most basic level, these settings enlarged interest in Stoicism by circulating their fundamental tenets and therapeutic system to a broader audience through attractive paraphrases set to music. Furthermore, the laudatory poetry and other liminal materials prefacing these prints offer insights into how these polyphonic settings were produced and used as a self-directed mode of therapy for moderating destructive emotions and restablishing harmony in both the individual soul and the state.

Presenters Melinda Latour
Tufts University
The Reason for Sympathy: Moral Philosophy in Mozart's Metastasian Concert Arias
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

In 1770, Mozart received a gift from Count Firmian that would prove to be significant in his compositional life: the nine-volume 1757 Turin edition of the works of Pietro Metastasio. Mozart's fruitful engagement with Metastasio's texts can be seen especially in his settings of the Imperial poet's work in his concert arias spanning his entire life. While numerous scholars have addressed Mozart's setting of Metastasio's librettos including _La clemenza di Tito_, the Metastasian concert arias remain less fully known and understood. I argue that these works, most often intended for performance in private concerts, reveal an aesthetic and philosophical focus quite different from _La clemenza di Tito_, a work designed for public consumption.


In this paper, I will focus on one aspect of this contrast between public and private aesthetics in Mozart's Metastasian settings. Don Neville and Paul Sherrill have argued that, in constructing his poetry, Metastasio was influenced by Cartesian rationalism and that these principles are also expressed in the ways that composers, including Mozart, set these texts. During Mozart's lifetime, however, Enlightenment philosophies of morality were beginning to be applied to new theories of performing and listening to instrumental music, linking musical performances with a morality based on sociability and sympathy or "fellow-feeling." The concert aria-with its non-theatrical venues where sociability and middle-class values were prominent and an emphasis on vocal virtuosity over understanding of the dramatic context-falls into a space between these two systems of thought.


I argue that the morality that pervades Metastasio's libretti is not simply reproduced in the concert aria but rather fused with the Enlightenment morality of sympathy, emphasizing sentiment as well as reason. Examining these Metastasian concert arias as vehicles of moral instruction in the Age of Enlightenment provides new avenues of understanding how Metastasio's works were consumed in contexts outside of the theater.

Presenters Michael Goetjen
Rutgers University
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