Late Medieval Listening in Padua

Due to a research trip, it has taken me a few weeks to post news of a recent article on subjectivity, listening and music in early fifteenth-century Padua. The article is part of a special issue on visual and aural intellectual history. It arose from a paper delivered at the Rethinking Intellectual History conference, held 7–9 April 2015 at The University of Sydney, Australia, and was part of a session on the old and new in medieval music theory. Some of the research—including archival research mentioned in the footnotes—in this article is the result of a project that I am undertaking in association with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Europe 1100–1800.

I was interested in exploring the idea of the old and new in writings of music theorists at Padua, particularly around the issue of musical listening and the conceptualisation of consonance. As a point of departure, I chose Petrarch’s famous letter from his Epistolae familiares (IV, 1) written after his ascent of Mont Ventoux when the fourteenth-century poet was living near Avignon, now in the south of modern-day France. Without going into details here, Petrarch’s letter can be read as the author’s realisation and exploration of his own subjectivity, made apparent when Petrarch realises that his experiences differ radically from those whom he sought to model his life upon, and upon his personal reflection as he looked figurative to his past, present and future on the peak of Mont Ventoux.

In the article, I wanted to explore how subjectivity in musical listening began to affect late medieval theoretical discourse at Padua, particularly with respect to two prominent figures, the university professor Prosdocimo de’ Beldomandi and the composer Johannes Ciconia. Both left writings about music which are all the more interesting according to their intellectual positions. Yet, pigeonholing each theorist according to their intellectual context is complex: while Prosdocimo might be put in the camp of scholastic thought, he is obviously interested trying to describe the qualities of the music he hears not just in technical terms. Ciconia seems conservative in his choice of venerable authors on music from many centuries before he was writing—Boethius and Remigius of Auxerre, for example—but his framework for music knowledge proves to be a radical one, more in keeping with (and probably influenced by) humanist thought in Padua c. 1400.

The complete bibliographic reference for my article is as follows:

Stoessel, Jason. “Climbing Mont Ventoux: the contest/context of scholasticism and humanism in early fifteenth-century Paduan music theory and practice.” Intellectual History Review 27, no. 3 (2017): 317–332. doi: 10.1080/17496977.2017.1333314.

For readers without access to a personal or institutional subscription to Intellectual History Review, a free copy of the article can be found here. Note that Taylor and Francis kindly provide 50 free e-prints only, so once the online article has been accessed that number of times, no further copies will be available from the link above. If you require a copy for personal study, please request a copy using the contact form on this blog or my email at the University of New England.

Short essay on Guillaume Faugues and his reception

Earlier this year my essay on fifteenth-century composer Guillaume Faugues was published as the introduction to the fourth and final volume of Rex Eakins’s new edition of The Complete Extant Transmissions of the Masses by Guillaume Faugues (published by The Institute of Mediaeval Music). This essay gave me the opportunity to summarise all previous scholarship on Faugues, and discuss his reception by authors from the late fifteenth century to the present. (There is, however, a substantial hiatus in literature when Faugues’s name was forgotten until the 18th century.)

I take this opportunity to share the text  of my introduction (downloadable from this link) in the hope that it might be of interest to enthusiasts of fifteenth-century music.

Proportional Canons at Tokyo

Last week I travelled to Tokyo, Japan, to present a paper at the quinquennial congress of the International Musicological Society on some of my recent findings on proportional canons from c.1390 to c.1500. This research is part of a larger project that I am conducting with Denis Collins on Canonic Techniques and Musical Change, c. 1330–c.1530. While we have been doing much work last year on the fourteenth-century canon, these are relatively straight-forward examples in which voices imitated each other at the unison after a certain delay between voice entries. The latter is commonly called in technical parlance the interonset interval or IOI. Continue reading “Proportional Canons at Tokyo”

Identity and Locality in Early European Music Now in Paperback

Just in time for your summer or winter reading list–depending on in which hemisphere of the Earth you reside–Routledge has announce that Identity and Locality in Early European Music, 1028-1740, ed. Jason Stoessel, originally published by Ashgate in 2009 has been reissued in an affordable paperback edition. This reissue is part of the Routledge Paperback Direct (RPD) programme and, as such, no changes were made to the hardback edition at all. RPD is the Routledge way of publishing paperback editions of successful hardbacks, available for authors and individual customers to purchase directly from the Routledge website. For further details, see the Routledge order page:

https://www.routledge.com/Identity-and-Locality-in-Early-European-Music-10281740/Stoessel/p/book/9780754664871

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Review of Schiltz’s new book

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.

Review article and another review

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.

Post July 2015 Conference roundup

The first three weeks of July have been a whirlwind of musicological activity, starting with hosting Graeme Boone for his great talk on music and emotions in the early songs of Du Fay for the 26th Gordon Athol Anderson Memorial Lecture (follow the link for more information), followed by a short week in Brussels (Belgium) for the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference (MedRen) and then back to Australia for the Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS). (For those unaccustomed to transglobal travel, the flight from Australia to Europe takes between 22 to 27 hours on a good airline with only one stop on the way.)

Continue reading “Post July 2015 Conference roundup”