My review of Katelijne Schiltz’s Music and Riddle Culture in the Renaissance (OUP) has recently appeared in Music and Letters. Full citation:
Jason Stoessel, “Music and Riddle Culture in the Renaissance. By Katelijne Schiltz (review).” Music and Letters 97, no. 2 (2016): 327-329. doi: 10.1093/ml/gcw030
Oxford University Press has provided free access to the review via this link (HTML) or this link (PDF) for use on my personal research blog. Enjoy my review and I hope that it encourages you to read this book on a fascinating topic.
I’m delighted to inform readers that my review article “Editing Early English Music” has recently appeared in Musicology Australia, the journal of the Musicological Society of Australia. In it, I compare two recent editions of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century music with connections to English composers, sources or musical styles: Reinhard Strohm’s Fifteenth-Century Liturgical Music, 6: Mass Settings from the Lucca Choirbook and David Fallows’s Secular Polyphony 1380–1480. I explore some of the difficulties faced by editors assembling a repertoire of musical compositions under the label of “English” and their different approaches to music editing. A complimentary copy of the article is available for the first 50 readers. If you have institutional access Musicology Australia you might like to follow this link instead.
I also authored a short review for the same issue of Musicology Australia on Margaret Bent’s recent book, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, Author of the Speculum Musicae. Bent has put forward in her book a fascinating new hypothesis concerning the origin of one of the most important music theorists of the early fourteenth century, proposing he can be identified with one of the founders of Oriel College, Oxford: James of Spain. My thoughts on Bent’s hypothesis and other interesting aspects of her book can be read in this complimentary copy here or by institutional subscribers to Musicology Australia here.
I was pleased to see that my article on Johannes Ciconia’s lament Con lagreme bagnandome was published in Plainsong and Medieval Music earlier this month. This article arose from some of the research that I have been undertaking as an associate investigator with the Australian Research Council’s Centre for the History of Emotions. I became interested in how Johannes Ciconia was using using musical elements in this song to emphasise certain textual features, and the relationship between this approach and the revived practice of public oratory in Padua. In the meantime, a better (albeit mostly dry and legalist) picture of Ciconia’s contacts with members of the humanist community at Padua has emerged in recent publications and in my own archival research, although this is not a primary focus of this article. Instead, by looking at humanist literature and intertexts with other Italian sources, I outline my case for Ciconia’s participation in an emotional community of musicians and humanists at Padua, as part of a larger project looking at this trend over several decades in this Veneto city.
John Stinson and Jason Stoessel, “Encoding Medieval Music Notation for Research,” Early Music 42, no. 4 (2014): 613–17. doi: 10.1093/em/cau093.
What do medieval music and computers have to do with each other, especially since the only “calculators” in the fourteenth century were clever sophists and theologians from Oxford? Well, it turns out quite a bit. The latest issue of Early Music, guest edited by Dan Tidhar, contains numerous articles on the theme of Early Music and modern technology. Several articles examine how computer-assisted research is revolutionising some of the ways music historians can approach medieval music.
I’ve just had my first fully online, open access journal article published. It’s not the first time my research has been published online, but my previous articles were dual-mode published in print and online. And, in a strange twist that is indicative of the state of medieval musicology in Australia, this is my first article published in this country: all others have appeared in journals published in the United Kingdom, United States and Europe. Anyway, enough of that.
After a bit of a break from blogging, I’m pleased to note the publication a new piece that I wrote about vocal stereotypes and epistemologies of song in the late middle ages, with particular reference to Italian musical culture. “Howling like wolves, bleating like lambs: Singers and discourse of animality in the late middle ages” marks a new thread of scholarship for me in which I have become increasing interested in the ways that song is represented in the late middle ages. By this I mean how the practice of singing and the singing voice is described and conceptualised by contemporary writers, and indeed how composers make use of these ideas and attitudes in their compositions. My curiosity was sparked by a reference to the singing voices of the Mongols in the travel writings of a thirteenth-century author. (This line of enquiry has also lead to other fields of investigation, discussed briefly here.) This lead me to consider how other authors described the voices of singers of particular nations in often unflattering ways. (I intentionally steered clear of more “generic” descriptions that have been discussed by other scholars in great detail.) Well, from there I dug deeper into various epistemologies of song and poetry—principally in an Italian and humanist context—to reveal the depth of attitudes to singing voices from the thirteenth- to mid-sixteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the way that some poets sometimes described themselves as animals or even used an anthropomorphised animal voice as a poetic voice in their poetry. This led me to reconsider a few of the most puzzling songs from the mid-fourteenth century created by Italian composers, most likely around Florence. A good dose of Dante was also in order: this foray into Dante scholarship was both thrilling but also intimidating. In short, this is big picture scholarship that tries to map some ideas about the singing voice in the late middle ages (which I take as late as c.1550), although it ends by discussing some very particular musical works from the fourteenth century. Continue reading “Vocal stereotypes in the late middle ages”→
At last my article on the illuminator of the important early fifteenth-century music manuscript Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, ms. α.M.5.24, also known as Mod A has been published in the Journal of Musicology. I am little proud of this article since it is the result of several years of research and makes what I think is an important contribution to music history’s understanding of this manuscript, well at least part of it. I’m also humbled by the fact it benefited from considerably from comments and insightful reviews for several scholars. This article is by no means the end of the story when it comes to Mod A, its illuminator and this manuscript’s origin. Instead I hope that it will provoke other scholars to revisit this manuscript and indeed my conclusions. The reference and abstract for the article is as follows:
Stoessel, Jason. “Arms, a Saint and Inperial Sedendo fra più stelle: The Illuminator of Mod A.” Journal of Musicology 31/1 (2014): 1–42.
Scholars have proposed Milan, Pisa and/or Bologna as possible locations for the copying of the inner gatherings (II–IV) of the manuscript Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, α.M.5.24 (Mod A) and have argued that some of the compositions might have originated in the circle of Archbishop of Milan Pietro Filargo. Yet evidence based on Mod A’s repertory and the scant biographies of its composers is insufficient for determining the manuscript’s origin. To solve this problem, I look at Mod A as a cultural artifact, attributing its illumination to the Master of 1411, an illuminator active in Bologna from 1404 to 1411, or to his assistant, both associated with the manuscript workshop of the Olivetan abbey of San Michele in Bosco, on the outskirts of medieval Bologna. The Master of 1411 might have been Giacomo da Padova, an illuminator documented there between 1407 and 1409. Iconographical analysis shows that the illuminator of Mod A possessed considerable knowledge of Paduan culture before the fall of the ruling Carrara family in 1405. This knowledge is apparent in his use of an astrological allusion to Carrara heraldry in his decoration of the song Inperial sedendo. His illumination of a Gloria by Egardus with the figure of Saint Anthony of Padua implies a familiarity with Padua’s musical institutions. Mod A may have been illuminated when the papal entourage of John XXIII visited San Michele in Bosco in the fall of 1410, although further compositions were added after the illuminator had finished his work. This conclusion invites scholars to consider afresh the social context that might have fostered the compilation of the repertory in the inner gatherings of Mod A.
The University of California Press has granted me permission to post a copy of my article on my personal website. Click here to download a copy of this article strictly for your own personal study. (Warning: links to an 8 MB PDF.) Any further use or redistribution of this file is not permitted.
This paper seeks to establish a prima facie case for a new edition of the repertoire of music from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century which is today referred to as the music of the ars subtilior. Although most of this body of compositions has been published in monumental editions in the 1970s and 1980s, these editions leave much to be desired both as sources of further scholarly enquiry and also as editions to be used for performance. This paper will detail some of the existing problems of published editions (including misreadings, errors, incomplete realisations) and how they might be avoided in a future edition using new technologies. In particular it will focus on cases within the scribal record of the ars subtilior that embody significant variants, including erasures representing scribal revision and/or scribal alteration of notational process. The emerging paradigms embodied by new technologies offer significant opportunities to move beyond Lachmannian and Bédierian theories of text criticism to principles of editing which preserve multiple local variants and empowers readers with a choice of readings.
As 2012 draws to a close, it pleases me to learn that the journal Early Music has published my article examining an anonymous late fourteenth-century song, Aÿ, mare, amice mi care. This Latin rondeau was discovered among an odd assortment of music fragments by Mark Everist just a few years ago but until now has not been satisfactorily transcribed nor its notation discussed. Thanks to the generosity of Oxford University Press, I am able to provide readers of my blog with a free-access URL to my article for their personal use only. The details of the article are as follows:
Jason Stoessel, ‘Revisiting Ay, mare, amice mi care: insights into late medieval music notation’, Early Music 40/3 (2012): 455-468. doi: 10.1093/em/cas101. Free access links: PDF or HTML.
Readers of this blog might be interested in a recent review I was asked to write for the Medieval Review, an online endeavour that publishes reviews on recent books in medieval studies including music.