Mariana Lopez (York, Chair)
Peter Falconer (Southampton)
Andy Popperwell (LSBU)
Abigail Wincott (Falmouth)
Laura Wright (Oxford)
This session focuses on the relationship between disharmonious sounds and social and political discord in early modern Europe. The topics range from the discordant poetics in John Milton's defence tracts, and the sounds of warfare during the Italian Wars of 1494 to 1559. We take a journey from sounds of conflict in the streets, to the cacophony of the battlefield, to discordancy on the page.
The Italian Wars of 1494 to 1559 were primarily a conflict between France and Spain for hegemony on the Italian peninsula but drew in soldiers from across Europe and beyond. 'Everywhere the blare of trumpets is sounding, everywhere is heard the clash of arms,' wrote Coradino Gilino, court physician at Ferrara. 'You hear nothing but drums and it seems a tempest,' wrote French poet Joachim du Bellay, who worked as a secretary in Rome. Drawing on a range of contemporary histories, literature and memoirs, this paper will explore these changing soundscapes of wartime. Sound was deployed in a variety of ways in war: trumpets or bells could be used to signal and drums to provide a marching beat. Silence, on the other hand, could be used to conceal operations. The Italian Wars were also characterised by changing approaches to warfare. New types of artillery were 'more diabolical than human', according to Francesco Guicciardini, but proved decisive in the early years of the conflict, as did handguns, which became increasingly prominent over the course of the wars. The paper will pay particular attention to the ways that these new gunpowder technologies shifted the soundscape of conflict in early modern Europe.
This paper sets out to explore the numerous acoustic metaphors employed by John Milton in his polemical tracts, in which the printed page merges with the soundscape of the public sphere. Milton’s rhetorical arguments rely heavily on the idea of spoken voice, and he never fails to emphasise the oral dimensions of his intellectual debates. Addressing his audience, he recurrently indicates what ‘it might be worth your listning, Readers’, spares them ‘needlesse hearing’, and shows care in directing their attention: ‘But listen!’. More importantly, Milton attacks the discordant style of his opponents as a way of criticising their arguments, and curiously links it to their poor hearing. While debasing their voices as fractured and disharmonious, he simultaneously associates his authorial voice with the vox populi of the English nation. In pitching his opponents’ disharmonious babble against the harmony of his own prophetic voice, Milton shows great awareness of the importance of sounds as vehicles of power dynamics, and he exploits this to his advantage. I aim to show that Milton appropriates ideas of discord taken from music theory, but also makes an original use of the more ambivalent concept of solecism—indicating political sectarianism, as well as acoustic and linguistic dissonance. Milton’s defence tracts not only offer a great case study of the relationship between voice and the written word, but ultimately testify to the political importance of aesthetic discord in early modern England.
During January - May 2019, I travelled around Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore) and Japan to conduct a soundscape research as a fellow of The Japan Foundation Asia Centre Fellowship. This study aims to record, documenting soundscape in many places throughout Southeast Asia and Japan as well as analysing these sounds as cultural narratives. Soundscape as an integral part of our reality can be an alternative way of 'seeing' (listening to) the culture and society nowadays.
The project is titled: "Lost in Sounds: A Pilgrimage of Sounds in Southeast Asia - Japan" (visit: www.lostinsound.art). During this research, there are 1030 sound recordings from various places. It is more focused on people activities such as in public spaces, streets, markets, transportations, places of worship, rituals and nature in the relation with society, etc. From these recordings, I wrote a Southeast Asian - Japanese soundscape ethnography that described and presented in this paper.
Keywords: soundscape, ethnography, recording, Southeast Asia - Japan
Environmental Education has a very important role in today's society, given the environmental problems faced throughout the planet. We live in a stimulus-rich world, and although human beings relate to the environment through the five senses, sight is the dominant sense in a globalized society marked by acceleration, individualism, and emotional detachment. This relationship must be rebuilt through careful, curious, and affective listening, close to nature. Perceiving the world through all of our senses can be a path towards an Environmental Education that aims to induce social dynamics, promoting a collaborative and critical approach to socio-environmental realities. The study of Soundscapes, a concept that designates any sound portion of the environment that can be a field of study, puts us in a place where cultural production may have a potentially powerful voice, making audible one of the most pressing problems of the present - the ecological imbalance. It can be a glimpse window into a different world, a way of establishing (or restoring) a new way of thinking the world, in which the human being is integrated into nature. Acoustic ecology reveals itself as a socially engaged, interdisciplinary field that can inspire society to hear the world, exploring the social, cultural and ecological layers through sounds, enabling humans to feel present and connected with the environment. In this context, the present work aims to explore the possibilities of using soundscapes in Environmental Education, as a way to rescue our sense of belonging to nature.
One of the most common ways of demonstrating madness on the early modern stage was to have the mad character singing to express feelings of distress. The mad songs, though, tended to almost always be sung by female characters. As a result, it is difficult to think of singing and madness in the same context without being reminded of examples from Shakespeare; the most obvious being Ophelia’s mad songs in Hamlet and the jailer’s daughter’s musical laments in The Two Noble Kinsmen. Brome also has the title character of his play, The Northern Lass expressing lovesickness by singing.
Lovesickness was so commonly associated with women that if a man appeared ‘mad for love’ he was ultimately deemed effeminate and weak, transgressing against the archetypal strong, courageous manner that was expected of a man. Therefore, the way male madness was depicted through music in the drama of the age was very different from the way it was shown by women. Male characters tended to express madness in one of three ways; either by requesting that a boy or servant sing on their behalf, singing themselves in an extremely outrageous manner akin to a fool, or playing music in a loud, unpleasant, jarring way.
This paper discusses the importance of music as a dramatic feature in the depiction of male madness on the stage, paying particular attention to the use of music as a symptom of madness in Brome’s The Court Beggar and music as a cure for madness in The Antipodes.
This paper will address the relationship between space, speech and emotion John Lyly's The Woman in the Moone. This text has quite rightly been read as drawing from Elizabethan astrology to present the moon and other celestial objects as directly affecting emotion. The seven planets, to spite Nature, afflict Pandora with emotions: Saturn infuses her with melancholy; Jupiter with ambition and vanity; Mars with wrath; the Sun with kindness; Venus with amorous sensations and Mercury with deceit. Finally, Pandora becomes mad as a consequence of the moon's influence; the other planetary deities restore her sanity, but, finding herself exiled from earth, Pandora is offered refuge on a planet. Due to women and the moon both being believed to be changeable, Pandora selects Luna as her abode. In asserting the mutability of women and the moon, the text is undergirded with anxieties regarding female speech and temporality: for something to be mutable, it must be located within a temporal continuum and Lyly’s presentation of time is fundamentally affective. Lyly's play sits at the threshold of old and new cosmographies; the entertainment presents complex ways of understanding planetary influence on the emotions and especially the relationship between the moon and the gendered body.
This paper will consider how the vocative openings to the female-voiced complaints attributed to Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, first published in Songes and Sonettes, addressing ‘happy dames’ and ‘good ladies’, reverberate across ballads in Elizabethan England. I will argue that these addresses proved so popular because of their use of the rhetorical figure of apostrophe to turn the female-voiced complaint into a responsive form. Apostrophe is closely related to prosopopoeia in that it too is a mode of bodying forth in which the speaker gives life to addressees, transforming them into potential interlocutors. The vocative form of these complaints moves the audience to action, dramatizing performative communities, and opening out the authorship and acoustics of these complaints to other participants. Hence, the invitation to take up the song was answered in other ballads in the period, including ‘The Complaint of a Woman Lover’. The rich acoustics of ‘O happy dames’ and ‘Good ladies’ in Songes and Sonettes created a space in which auditors were invited to become co-performers in the song, brought together by affective bonds and moved by the same passions.
On Monday 30 October, 1536, men between the ages of 16 and 60 were called to muster on Clitheroe Moor by 9am. The commons who responded to the call joined the most serious rebellion of the Tudor period, The Pilgrimage of Grace. Their complaints were centred on the person of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister. He was seen as the architect of a religious and social policy which had had a direct impact on local affairs, not least in the dissolution of the abbeys at Whalley and Sawley. This paper will explore what the soundscape of ballads (and indeed, noise more broadly) can tell us about the rebels’ grievances and why Thomas Cromwell believed them to be important in inciting the commons to rebellion.
Instead of online coffee breaks after each session, a Wonder Room will be available throughout the conference and registrants are welcome to dip into it to talk informally with each other. There will also be a few timetabled slots where you are welcome to mingle informally. It's a bring your own beverage affair and a link will be sent with joining details.
This paper addresses the musical clocks installed in three towns in the fifteenth and early sixteenth-century Low Countries: the small urban centre of Deinze, the ambitious town of Oudenaarde, and the port city of Middelburg in Zeeland. Working first from account books, I will set out how and when these objects came to prominence, and what we can know about their construction, maintenance, and transformation across the period between c.1480 and c.1530. I then turn to search out some of the possible ways these sounds were imagined and received across these urban spaces by placing the sounds of these clocks in dialogue with sonic readings of devotional practices, images, texts and objects. What emerges is a regionally specific culture of clock making and bell production that formed in parallel with liturgical and devotional developments associated with the devotio moderna, Burgundian/Habsburg hegemony, rich and competitive urban elites, and reforming monastic piety.
Playing earwitness to the power of a bell’s potential reach, Protestant Bishop Hugh Latimer in 1552 concluded that ‘if all the bells in England should be rung together at a certain hour, I think there would be almost no place, but some bells might be heard there …’ So what then did these bells have to say? Impossible to contain, a peal of bells or a tolling bell was readily understood by those within earshot, for it was the auditory hallmark of a civil society. Bells offered sounds of hope and warning, life and death, religious conformity, diversity and dissent as well as national mourning, commemoration and celebration. Using archives and archaeological evidence this paper demonstrates the ways bells provided a performative representation of the politics of everyday life making audible the mechanisms of gender and status divisions, as well as religious diversity and political continuity, change and for some a form of sonic static.
Bells were a frequent sound of celebration in early modern England; they rung out, for instance, after the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1586, and in the aftermath of the failed invasion of the Spanish Armada in 1588. These events in particular were tied up with the myth of Elizabeth I, and as David Cressy has shown, they were celebrated with fervour on 17 November—Elizabeth’s accession day—in the years after the last Tudor monarch’s death. The ring of a bell, however, is only a fleeting auditory moment, although it can take on an eternal quality when its ringing is recorded on paper. These records, however, carried an array of meanings that went beyond the literal sound of the bell’s ring, and early modern readers understood this shorthand. This paper analyses some of the many examples where the ringing of bells was associated with Elizabeth and her return of England to Protestantism, especially in the years after her death. Celebrating Elizabeth’s accession day by the ringing of bells is one thing, but recounting the way bells were rung before and during Elizabeth’s reign in the years after her death arguably served a different, albeit related, purpose.
For medieval and early modern Indian Sufis, written collections of spiritual discourses offered disciples both instruction from and connection to powerful religious figures within mystical Islam. Although they functioned as ‘memorative’ texts, and thus must be approached with a sense of caution, these sources can offer a wealth of information on early modern social history and religious practices. Such collections, primarily written in Persian, also contain some of the earliest instances of Sufi music practices in Indian vernacular languages, such as Hindi, as well as clues to the performative aspects of Persian and vernacular song and poetry. This paper, based on my current doctoral research on the shift from Persianate to vernacular performance practices in 13th- to 16th-century South Asia, will consider these discourse texts, known as malfuzāt, for the ways in which Sufis used vernacular song as a method of spiritual practice. Some texts, which included poetry set to rāgas, or melodic modes, utilised vernacular aesthetics to impart Islamic mystical ideology, translating the emotional aspects of classical Indian symbolism into Islamicate frameworks. Such ‘translation’ held important meaning for Indian Sufis and the ways in which they considered and understood their place in the wider Islamicate world. By examining these texts, I will show how the performance practices of early modern Indian Sufis had significant influence not only on religious practice and methods of identity formation, but also on the development of ‘classical’ court music in South Asia.
Meditations were supposed to keep early modern Protestants focused and cheerful, helping them divide up the monotonous march of time with extemporal and occasional moments of devotion. Crucially, these meditations were supposed to be spontaneous in nature, prompted by sights, sounds and experiences that their authors encountered in their day to day lives. In this paper, I discuss manuscript meditations by Anne, Lady Halkett and printed ones by Bishop Joseph Hall, examining how they transform auditory experiences into texts. These authors drew on sounds such as the barking of dogs, the singing of a swallow in the chimney, and the toll of a cracked bell as fuel for meditative practice. Their meditations, in turn, provide under studied sources for information about both the sensory and emotional world of the seventeenth century. Anne Halkett’s meditations reveal the sounds of the birthing chamber, her husband’s tears and prayers and how she would be startled out of prayer by the cry of her ‘dearest Child Betty’.
This paper will explore how early modern writers conceptualised the move from auditory cue to written meditation, and what dangers were inherent within this transformation. Thomas Fuller, who published several books of meditations, commented ‘how easie is Pen and Paper-Piety for one to write Religiously’. Writing these meditations down may have preserved the moment of devotion, but at what cost? I will explore how meditations relate to ejaculatory prayer, thinking through roles of writing and speaking in devotional practice.
Many songbooks produced in the sixteenth-century Low Countries contain songs in which various social groups are being criticized or ridiculed in a playful way. These songs offered a safe, fictional space to discuss desired or undesired behaviour without entering into conflict. Among those whose behaviour is mocked most frequently, are many gendered social groups, such as husbands and wives, adulterous spouses, old men marrying young brides or young lovers being deceived. At first glance and to common scholarly belief, most songs seem to feature a misogynistic undertone, criticizing women and celebrating male roles. At closer inspection, however, it turns out that many songs mocking women actually criticize men, and that male and female groups are equally ridiculed for stereotyped gendered shortcomings.
In particular, this paper discusses possible ways in which performance and point of view work together in the creation of gendered meanings. In many song texts, events and experiences are mediated through a male or female lyrical subject or narrator; this paper asks how these gendered mediating agents resonated in performances by male or female voices, either as a part of theatre plays or festive rituals, or in domestic or leisurely settings. It will become clear that a gendered performance added yet another layer of meaning to these songs, thus advancing their social functions of consolidating social cohesion and reinforcing gendered groups. Last, this paper also discusses the benefits of modern performance for the study of early modern song.
“People are not instruments. They do not speak out of tune.” (Crystal 78)
Emma Dillon writes that song is “geared for performance and crafted of sonic as well as verbal matter – melody, voice, notation” (596-97). This paper investigates whether ‘dramatic prosody’ – the way things are voiced and sounded in the theatre between page and stage – functions in similar fashion. As in music, utterance and sound are controlled, rehearsed, repeatable and function and form combine in multimodal meaning-making: the page serves as a sound script similar to musical notation, the (modern) stage gives physical form to these voice and sound potentialities. Drama, I claim, exist somewhere between text(s) and performance(s). Its characters are ‘dressed’ in words “geared for performance”: “In a play far more than in life, the words spoken express and evoke who and what you are” (Meisel 165; my emphasis). Characters, it seems, are “instruments” – do they “speak out of tune”? John Lyly’s verse play The Woman in the Moon (written in ca. 1590) is a point in case. Its protagonist, Pandora, the first woman, sets out on a journey to find her own voice and thus, eventually, self. While she is given “life and soul” (1.1.67) by Nature with the help of Concord, it is Discord who “unloose[s] her tongue” (1.1.83). Throughout the play, Pandora is under the influence of diverse planets who shift her mood and hence speech. As she becomes an instrument, her voice does, too. An instrument, the play seems to suggest, inherently “out of tune.”
Crystal, David. How Language Works. Penguin Books, 2005.
Dillon, Emma. “Unwriting Medieval Song.” New Literary History, vol. 45, no. 4, 2015, pp. 595-622.
Lyly, John. The Woman in the Moon. 1597. Edited by Leah Scragg, Manchester University Press, 2006.
Meisel, Martin. How Plays Work: Reading and Performance. Oxford University Press, 2007.
This paper will explore the multiple meanings of the sixteenth-century French term bruit: literally noise but also rumour and the product of rumour, reputation. In this term, there is a strong link between noise, hearing, and the construction of subjectivity. I will focus on instances of speech and other noises (snorting, coughing, etc) and their impact on women’s self-presentation and self-belief. In Althusser’s concept of interpellation, to hear is to respond to and to assume a certain name; in the case of malicious gossip, slander, or insult, the assumption of the name goes against the wishes of the interpellated subject. The term bruit encapsulates interpellation in that it represents both sound and impact. I’d like to explore in this paper the sensory and affective experiences of hearing bruit when it pertains to one’s own character and sense of self.
Modern research has confirmed the efficacy of music therapy in many diseases, yet the curative power of music has always been considered an important adjunct in medical practice such as seen in the work of the early modern physician, Thomas Campion.
The interpretation of music as the art of feeling, or the language of the soul, permeates the musical humanism of the Renaissance and indeed, early modern medicine. The early modern body was imagined as a musical instrument where the harmonious balancing of the four humours represented health, a central tenet in the Galenic model imitating the correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm, the musica humana whose roots lie in classical philosophical discourses. Music has the power to console since our senses feed into our emotions and music is a vehicle through which we can express emotions, even without words. Campion draws on this model in his Third and Fourth Booke of Ayres where he demonstrates a profound depth of understanding about the physical effects that emotions can have on the body. Dedicated to the imprisoned Sir Thomas Monson, who was suffering ill heath, Campion intends this book to help Monson recover. Since music was considered able to restore the balance between the soul and its faculties, thanks to its greatly emotive power, Campion’s ‘light straynes of Musicke’ will remove Monson’s ‘pensiuenesse’. Although Campion’s ayres are moulded in the conventions of late Elizabethan and Jacovean lyric poetry, they reveal an extraordinary commentary on emotions and the senses, which this paper will explore.
Katherine Butler-Schofield (KCL)
Nandini Das (Oxford)
Sarah Dustagheer (Kent)
Jennifer Stoever (State University of New York at Binghamton)
Wayne Weaver (Cambridge)
The Virtual St Paul’s Cathedral Project and its predecessor the Virtual Paul’s Cross Project recreate the look and sound of worship and preaching in and around St Paul’s Cathedral in the early 1620’s. In the process, we have learned a good deal about the acoustic properties of these spaces and the kinds and sources of the ambient sounds that filled them. These sounds created the acoustic background for the daily activities of the Cathedral staff and of the ebbing and flowing of visitors to the Cathedral. To demonstrate what we have learned, we have recreated within our acoustic model of Paul’s Churchyard some of the sounds that were likely to have been heard in Paul’s Churchyard at one specific moment, in this case, eleven o’clock in the morning on a day in the early 1620’s. The chief sources of sound for this demonstration are the horses, birds, and dogs included in John Gipkin’s 1616 painting of a Paul’s Cross sermon in progress (see image below) and the bells of clocks ringing out the hour from the towers of churches within audible distance from Paul’s Churchyard. This demonstration also incorporates research into which churches in early seventeenth century London had clocks with bells attached as well as the fact that synchronicity in timing the hours was not a feature of London acoustic life.
This paper focuses on using historical maps as an interactive Graphical User Interface (GUI) to present historical soundscapes. It utilizes 3D spatial audio and dwells on the ways of reconstructing historical soundscapes by building it on the concept of Historically Informed Soundscape (HIS). Being motivated by high level of immersion provided with spatial audio and the sense of bodily movement obtained through 2D interactive maps, it discusses both concepts together. It evaluates HIS as a general method by trying to bring a more theoretic understanding of it. The concept is applied to the soundscape of eighteenth-century Naples, the city which might have one of the vibrant soundscapes in the early modern times. While being a scene for a series of social transformations similar to the contemporary capitals, its noisy popolo, the long ceremonial traditions, vivid theatre performances and musical activities makes Naples’ soundscape worthy to imagine. This paper grounds this sound image on the map of Naples (1790) by Giovanni Antonio Rizzi Zannoni.
'Of Virgins, Hosts, and Heavenly Sirens: Hearing the Sonic Imaginary of German Catholicism, 1580-1650'
Chair: Richard Wistreich (RCM)
This paper analyses the rhetoric and images white Jamaicans used to communicate what they “heard” during the annual holiday festivities of free and enslaved African Jamaicans in the West Indies to audiences in England who would never hear the live performances. White Jamaican audiences – often unwilling listeners – found themselves stunned by noise and struggled to find ways to describe their experiences and ascribe meaning to the sonic encounters they depicted. One anguished listener lambasted the holiday noises as “demonstrative arguments” that arose from the performers’ “Goombas, Banjas, Fiddles, Drums, Flutes, Jaw-bones, and other instruments of thunder and of terror.” When conveying information about events they found exotic or even “heathenish,” authors vividly described the singing, drumbeats, and clamorous instruments that accompanied African Jamaican holiday processions and their own physical and emotional reactions to the sounds. They frequently emphasised the enervating nature of repetition in song, tune, and cadence in attempting to convey the physical experience of hearing holiday noise.
The holiday celebrations provided a space of interactive noise-making and hearing. Some white newcomers admired the sounds they heard and encouraged elaboration while others complained vociferously about being subject to the noise and sought to control it. Whites with competing agendas drew on their sonic depictions of holiday events to argue about the evils of slavery or alternatively, to suggest that the celebrations showed the benign nature of West Indian slavery. In this manner, evocative depictions of African-Jamaican sound contributed to political claims about the social and economic foundations of West Indian policies and the sound of celebration crossed the Atlantic, if only in paper form.
In the history of North American street culture, perceptions of “noise” have shaped political discourse, and the prerogative to define undesirable public sound as “noise” has been a metric of power for four centuries. Urban soundscapes have been sites of contestation since the First Great Awakening of the 1740s, when the noise of revivalist crowds was a focus of horrified fascination: “The noise was like the roar of Niagara…At one time I saw at least five hundred swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them, and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens.”1 The devaluation of African-based cultural expressions as “black noise” rationalized white dehumanization and control of black bodies and labor, while the infection of white soundscapes with black or brown inflections was regarded as dangerous and undesirable. Accelerating industrialization directly implicated class-based social tensions; by 1900, political authorities and their cultural arbiters explicitly conflated unregulated public noise with the uncontrolled public presence of subaltern bodies, most notoriously in various cities’ public campaigns against the cries of street vendors.
In this presentation, drawing on a larger project investigating cases from across four centuries, and employing methodologies from cultural geography, musicology, semiotics, and kinesthetics, I will situate “noise”—both sonic and visual—as an essential component of subaltern resistance throughout the political history of the Americas.
Orlando Gibbons’s The Cries of London (c. 1610) are among a number of musical works meant to emulate the cries of hawkers and peddlers in London’s street markets. While such works bend toward the idioms of madrigals, it is likely that Gibbons used the melodic fragments of real peddlers and thus record the sounds of the markets and made permanent the voices of lower-class people. Additionally, the aural effect of Gibbons’s works give listeners an experience of walking through the market as various voices pass by and do not return. Using the Agas Map, I will show the distribution of markets and areas of industry and chart the different sonic territories within the city. I will then explore similars record of street peddlers in visual art through the works of such works as Marcellus Laroon’s Cryes of the City of London (1687) and William Hogarth’s works such as the Skimmington print in the Hudibras series (1725) and The Enraged Musician (1741). I then place these works in the context of first-hand accounts of the street markets in the works of John Stow, Samuel Pepys, and Joseph Addison and the later work of Henry Mayhew entitled, London Labour and the London Poor (1851). While this study covers a broad range of time, this paper reveals commonalities and continuities between the early modern city and street culture of the early nineteenth century. By exploring such representation of street peddlers in music, visual art, and literature, one can see the lingering presence of the urban poor and their voices long after their contemporaries pass into obscurity. With this paper I seeks to map the territories marked by the sound and labor of such peoples and hope to illustrate and fuller picture of the life on the streets of pre-industrial London.
In 1747, construction of Frederick the Great’s summer residence in Potsdam neared completion and the new palace opened for its initial season of court activities. Named Sans-Souci, the rococo building was structured as a single-story garden pavilion and luxuriously styled as a maison de plaisance. The palace design was sketched by Frederick II himself, and its architectural layout holds evidence of his personal vision for the residence, including significant place for musical activity. Notably, the palace contains an intricately decorated music room, which served as the concert space for Frederick II’s evening flute performances. Many original features of the music room remain well preserved, including stucco and mirrored surfaces, wall paintings by Antoine Pesne, and a fortepiano by Gottfried Silbermann. These elements—along with general room acoustics—can be newly considered through modeling the space’s sonic environment in combination with detailed study of socio-musical context. This paper examines this process and suggests ways in which elements of acoustic modeling can be applied to the creative reconstruction of Sans-Souci’s mid-eighteenth-century soundscape. Building on work on historical sound and acoustics (Lee et al, 2015; Bassuet, 2008) and concert hall measurements (Lanzinha et al, 2015; Beranek, 2003), I discuss the socio-historic context of the Sans-Souci music room, with contemporary accounts, imagery, and musical examples considered as additional evidence of spatial design and acoustic character. Results of this research reconstruct a sound environment that is imagined from multiple perspectives, including that of the performer, of the listener, and of the passive participant.
What did Parliament sound like in early modern England? The old Palace of Westminster was a noisy place: debate and heckling within the House of Commons chamber, petitioners and witnesses crowding in the lobby, and the hubbub of law and commerce conducted in Westminster Hall. Archival sources are revealing about aspects of the parliamentary soundscape, but can convey only a limited sense of the acoustic and spatial experience of early modern Westminster.
This paper presents research conducted by the ‘Listening to the Commons’ AHRC project at the University of York, focusing on two parliamentary spaces: the pre-1834 House of Commons chamber, located in the former St Stephen’s Chapel in the Palace of Westminster; and the Divinity School in Oxford, where the royalist parliament assembled during the Civil War. Granted unprecedented access to the modern House of Commons, we worked with MPs and parliamentary staff to recreate historic debates and assess the acoustics of the current Commons chamber in order to model its early modern predecessor. This paper also discusses acoustic fieldwork conducted at Oxford’s Holywell Music Room, an extant building that closely resembles the eighteenth-century House of Commons.
By bringing early modern political and parliamentary history into dialogue with expertise in acoustics and the reconstruction of lost soundscapes, we aim to offer a unique perspective on the sounds of debate in the old Palace of Westminster.
Instead of online coffee breaks after each session, a Wonder Room will be available throughout the conference and registrants are welcome to dip into it to talk informally with each other. There will also be a few timetabled slots where you are welcome to mingle informally. It's a bring your own beverage affair and a link will be sent with joining details.
Yea they tooke such pleasure in our singing of Psalmes, that whensoeuer they resorted to vs, their first request was commonly this, Gnaáh, by which they intreated that we would sing.
The World Encompassed by Francis Drake (1628)
Sound was vital to transnational encounter, and as the preservation of this interaction from 1579 between Francis Drake and the native Americans on the northern shores of California makes plain, travel narratives are bursting with noise. Yet little work has been done by historians to consider what this can tell us about past cross-cultural interactions. This paper draws attention to the significance of transnational acoustic encounters in the Americas, Europe, and the Levant, within a wide generic range of anglophone accounts from both print and manuscript, c.1550-1650.
When travellers wanted to convey something in ways that would prompt a response in their readers they did so with a distinctive call to the oral/aural, and went to great lengths to relay this acoustic information in ways that their readers might appreciate and understand. Travellers did this, I argue, to emphasise their credibility as ‘earwitnesses’ and in order to demonstrate the veracity of their faith. They did this in three (sometimes overlapping) ways, first in their description of foreign, natural sounds, second in their description of foreign, man-made sounds and third in their description of the sounds they themselves made in the context of their transnational encounters. Finally, this paper explores the audibility of the texts themselves, as William Lithgow asserts when he talks to his travel narrative in its prefatory pages, urging it ‘to go plead thy owne Defence’ and ‘stop the breath of carping tongues’, and illuminate the blind by offering ‘sound knowledge in their ears’.
It has acquired the status of a myth: how Italy, land of song, in a process beginning sometime in the sixteenth century, harnessed its native people’s apparently inborn and irresistibly alluring singing style and so successfully exported it that by the mid-seventeenth century, it had achieved a European hegemony of art singing that would, before long, become world-wide. Behind the myth lies, naturally, plenty of fact: a rich historiography traces the colonisation by Italian musicians of vast swathes of European music culture, primarily through the dissemination of compositional genres, and migrations both out of and into Italy of singers, composers, teachers and consumers of music. Italian singing ultimately became the key driver of an intricate network of dynamic structures of music consumption across Northern Europe, feeding many dependent economies either directly, or indirect spill-overs from it. But attempts to account for this complex cultural history have, until recently, largely ignored what lies at its heart– the embodied acoustics of singing itself, and the commercialisation and international transmission of ‘Italian vocality’ through a complex interaction of emulation, local adaptation, professional instruction and self-teaching, supported more by specialised printed method books. This paper explores the process by which a highly elite style of vocalising first fostered in the secretive world of Italian courtly comportment, made its way into the cultural mainstream of European society, thanks both to the economic and social drivers of an emerging capitalist Europe, and the universality of the human voice with its capacity for being tamed and trained.
“Non sufficit ad singula sensus.”—Johannes Sambucus, Emblamata, 1564
Representation of music in painting acknowledges the interactivity of the senses. Rather than relying on the sense of sight as the basis of the interaction with images, depictions of musical instruments and sheet music unify the senses of hearing and touch. Drawing on Baxandall’s concept of the “period eye,” this paper will explore the intersensoriality and correspondences between music and the visual arts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through a “period ear” and a “period skin.” Descartes’s belief that “all our nerves and muscles” serve the memory was demonstrated in his discussion of lutenists who combine the senses of touch and hearing (Roodenburg 2014). Does the increase in musical depiction in early modern paintings correspond to the recognition of the interactivity of the senses and signal a shift in the hierarchy of the senses? The great attention to acoustic openness in the sixteenth century can be credited to the development in religious discourse and early modern science. The rise of Protestant theologies and the discovery of the Eustachian tube in the mid-sixteenth century contributed to the rising interest in the ear and the sense of hearing (McDermott 2013). Although it is often assumed that music is an art of the ear and painting an art of the eye (Howes 2017), a reexamination on the interrelationships between music and painting will offer insight on the purpose and the reception of music in the visual arts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
This contribution aims to investigate the political and theological aspects of the representation of sound in the images of the Conversion of Saint Paul in siixteenth century Rome. After the Sack of Rome in 1527, the number of images of the Conversion increased significantly. In addition, artists such as Michelangelo, Taddeo Zuccari or Antonio Tempesta, among others, began to give particular emphasis to the “sonorous” quality of God’s call to Paul through the depiction of screaming men, neighing horses and resonant turmoil.
As the art historian Daniel Arasse has suggested, this new way of representing the Conversion has to be considered in connection with the Roman social and religious context, and notably the Counter-Reformation initiated by Pope Paul III. By choosing his name, Paul III identified himself with the most important preacher and defender of the Church, as the documents related to his investiture testify. Furthermore, Paul III made the Conversion his personal symbol and commissioned several representations on this theme.
The reason why the papacy made such use of Paul’s conversion is made clear by contemporary exegesis. Agostino Bonucci, author of the theological treatise Conversio Pauli (1545) dedicated to Paul III, exhorts the Pope to follow the example of the converted Paul and convert the schismatics. Thus, it appears that the papacy exploited the theme of St Paul’s listening and obeying to the Lord in order to allude to the Protestants’ conversion. Therefore, through their works depicting the Conversion as an event taking place in the midst of a noisy crowd, frightened by the vocal irruption of God calling Paul, Italian artists echo the troubled religious context of the Italian Counter-Reformation.
Caging songbirds for musical entertainment has been common practice since antiquity. It was known that, if correctly trained, birds could learn to imitate the songs of other species, learn to ‘speak’ and even reproduce musical phrases. The ownership of pets in the early modern period has been widely studied, but these works mostly concern the social role of pets and their owner’s relationship with them. This paper looks at a neglected aspect, examining the musical training of birds in the seventeenth century, and placing the hobby within the wider context of global interactions and the development of the natural sciences.
Birdsong accompanied everyday life: it was heard in trees, bushes and hedgerows; hunters imitated birds to lure their prey; and, crossing the boundary between the natural world and music, songbirds were caged and trained for entertainment.
As global connections increased, natural scientists encountered new species, like the American Mockingbird, with astounding polyglot abilities. This led to investigations, shaped by growing empiricism, into the various vocal abilities of different birds which were then published in instructional manuals. These manuals systematically recorded which birds were most apt to learn the songs of other birds or copy musical passages played to them on a Flageolet, and how these birds should be kept and trained. These texts, therefore, formed part of the growing corpus of literature concerning animals’ intellectual and linguistic abilities. This paper highlights the wider processes underpinning the practice of training songbirds and peoples’ relationship with birdsong in the early modern period.
Following the example of ethnomusicologists Steven Feld and Marina Roseman, as well as musicologist Theodore Adorno (who hypothesised that music is a building material of consciousness), I am interested in the role that musical sounds and instruments (‘musicking’) played in developing and expressing inner feelings, emotions and also ideas in the early modern period. In particular I want to explore a phenomenon that Feld and Roseman have observed in indigenous and premodern societies, namely the process of thinking with, rather than about music, its embodied sounds offering a way of accessing both the physical and spiritual worlds, as well as a means of communication with the divine. In this paper I will present a powerful example of the constitutive role that music could play in the expression of theological, philosophical and scientific concepts that were hard to verbalise. A key figure proves to be the Cambridge singer and instrumentalist Thomas Mace (1613-1706), who for much of the time devoted himself to maintaining the standard of psalm singing in Trinity College Chapel as well as teaching music privately. In his Musick’s Monument (1676) he identified music as an expressive language of the passions that was also capable of communicating its notions to the “incomprehensible” faculties of the soul and drawing listeners into divine raptures and contemplations by means of the spirit. In this presentation I will argue that Mace’s essentially Neoplatonic ideas resonated with those of contemporary Cambridge philosophers and natural scientists, and I will also provide aural examples of the music that he had in mind.
‘The sounds of the city: listening to an early modern migropolis’
Chair: Niall Atkinson (Chicago)
Disguise is ubiquitous in early modern English drama. Across play genres and performance contexts, dramatic persons are seen to conceal their identities and assume temporary personae within the play worlds. While often considered as a visual device, disguise also brings something significant to the ears of listeners both onstage and off. In this paper, I explore the sound of disguise in plays first performed on London’s public stages in the first decades of the seventeenth century. Defining personal appearance and disguise in terms of the presence of the moving, sounding body as a whole, I specifically investigate disguises where singing is a central characteristic of the assumed persona and found at the centre of the diegetic performance. Song figures here both as a means of supporting the disguise itself, through recognisable musical conventions and practices, and as a way of shaping the interaction between disguiser and onstage audiences in ways significant for the dramatic action. Suggesting an approach to stage song as a space of action, I consider how singing features as a strategy of disguise on the early modern English stage.
As commercial drama developed in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the response of audiences became an important commodity for theatre companies and their playwrights: Plays that were booed would be cancelled, whereas those that achieved applause would be reperformed. The issue with trying to understand how the responses of audiences functioned is that the sounds of the Renaissance audience have been lost.
By applying the methodologies of sensory studies, it is possible to re-identify the soundscape of the early modern playhouse, through the calls made to the audience in the epilogues. By considering the oral/aural literacy of the early modern playgoers in relation to the drama’s plaudites, it is possible to identify the key role applause and booing played in early modern theatre: audience response was not simply a polite recognition of the performance, but a value judgement that shaped the success of a playing company. As such, this paper will attempt to identify the soundscape of the early modern audience, and how the implications of their responses influenced both the theatre space and the streets of London more broadly.
The relationship between Shakespeare and sound can be traced, first of all though not exclusively, in a strongly metaphorical language used both as a vehicle of meanings and as an instrument to question epistemological concepts such as the connection between macrocosm and microcosm, man and power, man and love etc. Shakespeare's awareness of the aural dimension of reality unveils a process of appropriation and re-elaboration of the theory connected to sound and music. Indeed, his specific use of rhetorical elements directly linked to sound, establishes a connection between his characters and the space that surrounds them – a space that is to be meant both in a largely phenomenological sense, and in a more specifically social/political sense. My paper aims to show how in Othello, the precise orchestration of voices, sounds, and noises, which reverberates through the theatre, may be seen as playing an effective role in their dramatic impact. Indeed, I will make an interdisciplinary use of critical tools developed in the field of Shakespeare Studies and Sound Studies (not least Soundscape and Acoustemology). The focus will be on Othello’s dramaturgic rhetoric of sound with a view to character building. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare's characters are always identified and characterized by a specific compendium of sounds which reveals more about their identity, their Bildung, their rises and falls in the dramatic plot. In investigating the relationship between Shakespeare's theatrical text and sound, my paper aims to reveal the possible mechanism employed by the playwright in its creation.
The papers in this panel recover a dimension of the early modern soundscape that has been neglected in recent scholarship: music belonging to “illegitimate” theatrical spaces, that of non- or semi-professional performance, and what has been described as simply “bad” singing. Though many scholars discuss musical and theatrical performances in a manner that imagines an idealized or “perfect” performance—something akin to the Boethian concept of speculative music—this assumption of what early modern music sounded like results in a skewed understanding of this soundscape. In our presentations, we explore this missing dimension through examining several instances of musical error recorded in a plethora of documentary sources.
Archival documents of early modern musical performances record examples of both exceptionally beautifully—and also remarkably egregious—performances. It is the latter to which this essay will turn in order to reflect upon early modern consumption of music, as well as present-day relationships to music. Characters in early modern theatrical productions sometimes apologized in advance for their forthcoming singing (as did Shakespeare’s Balthasar), and boy choristers were sometimes derided for not being musically prepared (for example, by Munday in his published version of Camp-Bell, or the Ironmongers’ Fair Field, where he cites the “weak voices” of the children as one reason his Lord Mayor’s Show was not well-received (B2v)). Changing bodies of boy actors sometimes resulted in uncontrollable and undesirable sounds. Writes Gina Bloom, “in their displacement of squeaking voices, … modern performances diverge from early modern theatrical practice” (22). How might we, as scholars and practitioners of music, bridge the gap between the requisites for musical performance in the period and how that can relate to digital technologies (including aspects of recording technology, like autotuning) now? How might having “on-demand” music as part of our lived experience impact our relationship to music in a way different from that in Renaissance culture? Bad singing and poor musical performance in general is something of a “dirty secret,” a topic generally deemed unworthy of serious scholarly attention. But to ignore it at the expense of an imagined and idealized platonic performance—as many scholars do—distorts the soundscape of early modern England. Attending seriously to what might be called “bad” singing, I argue, reveals an important aspect of the fungible and multidimensional early modern English songscape, and particularly that of the theater’s soundscape, which apparently resonated with all kinds of wrong notes.
Travelling showmen from southern France and northern Italy were well known to seventeenth-century English listeners both in urban and rural areas for their portable “theatres” or boxes containing a miniature scene or moving figurines. Providing a kind of aural enticement for a view in the crowded streets and markets, the show man would offer a song, a “gallant show,” or a simple bell. These entertainments were called rare shows, often spelled “raree” in an attempt to approximate the Savoyard accent. Mocked and dismissed by learned observers, rare show men’s musical performances were co-opted for political satire and replicated on the London stage. In just one example, Peter Motteux and John Eccles’s 1697 courtly entertainment Europe’s revels for the Peace of Ryswick features a Savoyard character singing a simple and repetitive ballad-style tune called “Raree Show,” a number approximating the street performance of an untrained musician.
Using historical musicology and performance studies as theoretical frames, I examine the surviving written descriptions of rare show street performances and the extant music written for theatrical depictions of itinerant musicians. How would LaRoche and others who portrayed street musicians on stage have performed musical failure? How did the studied performance of failure differ from that of untrained voices? Are there historically-informed ways of reanimating bad singing? While musicology often privileges an ideal text or a perfectly rehearsed performance, it is vital to remember that failure was a hallmark of the seventeenth century soundscape and theatrical experience. By attending to evidence of “bad singing” in early modern England, we can not only theorize how to historically document the performance of failure, but also reconceive the networks of musical circulation, performance practices, and “illegitimate” theatrical spaces of seventeenth century London.
Interleaved roughly halfway through the commonplace book of the seventeenth-century royalist prisoner John Gibson is a small engraved emblem of a nightingale perched on a thorn branch. The caption reads: “The nitingale, compast with thorns, doth sing, and christian notes, sound sweetest suffering.” This emblem appears before a manuscript poem, possibly by Gibson, titled “A Farewell to my Groue,” in which the speaker urges “Sad Philomel” and a host of other birds to help him lament the speaker’s “Tragedie.” The little bird of the emblem thus prompts Gibson to compose his own twittering song of suffering and is urged to voice it as Gibson’s mouthpiece. Such identifications of suffering Christians with sorrowing songbirds draw on biblical imagery and recur throughout both Catholic and Protestant poetry and prose including, for example, the Jesuit Robert Bellarmine’s popular 1617 De Gemitu Columbae, which takes the moaning/lamenting of the dove as the ideal model for Christian weeping, sighing, and groaning.
This paper will examine the qualities of birdsong that made it such a potent exemplar for early modern writers invested in spiritually valuable expressions of devout sorrow and will investigate how and why the tuneful, shaped songs of birds could be compared to seemingly inarticulate human utterances like sighs, tears, and groans. Considering works of natural philosophy alongside theological writings and poems, I will suggest that comparisons of Christian lament to birdsong offer us new insights into the relationships early moderns set up between speech and song and between sound and psycho-spiritual change.
The paper addresses the Welsh congregationalist minister Edmund Jones’s (1702–93) collection of spirit narratives, published as A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the Principality of Wales (1780), and an earlier now lost volume on the same subject. His books represent the first- and second-hand testimonies of many witnesses to supernatural encounters in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Wales. The accounts evoke a spiritually dark landscape in which the malevolent dead, damned, and demonic wandered. They present a fascinating insight into how the eighteenth-century not only visualized but also auditioned the spirit world. It is with this latter aspect of Jones’ narrative that I will be chiefly concerned.
The paper outlines the peculiarities of the spirits’ sonorous manifestations, the auditors’ response to such, and the relationship of the sounds to the landscape in which they were heard. Many of the auditory attributes of spirit noises were adapted from the natural world and everyday experience. The supernatural signification of such was summoned by the fearful context of the phenomena, the often strange and frightening visual accompaniment, and the unnerving modulations, exaggerations, and deformations of the auditory source.
The paper also introduces my sound-artwork, based upon Jones’s books, entitled Noisome Spirits (CD release: Screen and Sound Archive, National Library of Wales, 2021). The suite of seventeen compositions seeks to make the witnesses’ experience sensible, by presencing the sounds and – following Jones’ own determination – provide a ‘vivid account’ of apparitions. The objective is neither reconstruct nor create a simulacrum of the original sounds but, rather, to imaginatively summon the sense of the dread and otherness experienced by the witnesses, abstractly.
This paper examines the methods employed by government officials in mid-16th century Switzerland to control the dissemination of controversial ballad prints. In the context of the politically and religiously charged relations between the eight cantons of the Swiss Confederation, the discovery of such prints was repeatedly discussed among cantonal representatives at the post-Reformation Swiss diets (Tagsatzungen). The protocols of these discussions thus provide exceptionally detailed insights into the mechanisms of censorship of the time. They illustrate not only the vigour and urgency with which the government officials of the various cantons pursued – and urged each other to pursue – this matter, but that they did so with a keen awareness of the ubiquitous risk of renewed vocal realisation of the ballad’s content. On a more general level, the protocols show that these concerns not only applied to printed ballads, but that authorities considered them pertinent for small print in general. The paper argues that the government officials’ desires for most thorough investigation and comprehensive punishment of printers, sellers and performers of controversial material were clearly limited by the fear of involuntary further dissemination through vocal, i.e. ephemeral, forms of communication.
The Reformation has long been acknowledged as a movement which sought to drastically reshape the soundscape of early modern Europe. In its wake, many cherished acoustic traditions such as the ringing of bells, religious processions, church music and psalm singing were amended or abolished altogether. While these changes have received growing attention from historians in recent years, another arena of conflict has remained largely overlooked. This paper argues that through the creation of local morals courts in reformed territories, sound practices became deeply implicated in reformed attempts at rural Christianisation. Tasked with enforcing a steadily growing number of provisions, morals courts took aim at many traditional forms of work, leisure and sociability as well as the sound practices tied to them. Popular music, the sounds of merry-making, and common idioms of vernacular speech increasingly came to be branded as disruptive noises attracting the wrath of an all-seeing and all-hearing god. A fully reformed society became synonymous with a soundscape of godly sobriety and tranquility. The paper analyses this process on the basis of morals courts records created throughout the seventeenth century in villages subject to the authority of one of the epicenters of the European Reformation – the Zurich city state. It traces the combined efforts of religious and secular authorities to bring order to the unruly soundscape of their rural subjects, as well as the way such efforts were embraced and contested by local actors.
The proposed paper presents a case study in the mechanisms of vocality in the early modern public sphere. It analyses ballads and songs on the 1712 Toggenburg war, a minor religious conflict between the protestant and catholic cantons of the Swiss Confederacy. Ballads and ballad broadsheets not only served as contemporary reflections upon news, events and current affairs but, moreover, played a vital role in the establishment of a voice-based culture of public information, debate and conflict in early modern Switzerland. The Toggenburg war is a case in point. Ballads and songs were essential elements of the political conflict itself. Authorities not only responded to vocal challenges by published ballad broadsheets but tried to control ballad production and distribution by seizing ballad prints and interrogating witnesses of ballad performances. In the paper, I address ballads and songs as performative practices and political action and set them in relation to other forms of contemporary vocal media (sermons, dialogues, drama) in order to outline a multi-perspective account of an early modern public sphere literally resonating with a multiplicity of voices.
Shakespeare’s plays were primarily meant to be performed on stage; which means that their oral aspect is fundamental in the construction of meaning. The soundscapes of early modern England differ considerably from the way people speak English today. The evolution of English pronunciation results in various elements of the plays, including puns, jokes, rhymes and other play on words being lost when pronounced in modern English.
In this paper I will explore the soundscapes of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost (1598), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602) and Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist (1610). True depictions of the multicultural early modern London, these are all comedies that feature a great array of dialectal variations, depicting foreign characters and using their accents as a comic device. Because of this, I will provide an interdisciplinary study, where literature and phonology are combined, in order to bring to light lost meanings and establish how sound—with an emphasis on original pronunciation—constitutes foreign characters in these comedies.
Original pronunciation in early modern England has been studied by linguists and literature scholars alike, particularly by David Crystal, David Barrett, and Helge Kökeritz. Folio and Quarto spellings, as well as contemporary Elizabethan and Jacobean century scholarship on pronunciation, such as Ben Jonson’s and John Hart’s grammars are fundamental pieces of evidence to elucidate how words may have sounded on the English early modern stage.
In this paper I will argue that the issue of phonetic spelling is relevant to understand how the question of the national character of the English language was approached from translinguistic perspectives in early modern England. I shall focus on the digraph -th-, when it serves to transcribe the two phonemes coded by IPA “eth” (/ð/) and “theta” (/θ/). The two symbols chosen in the IPA are like a distant echo of the debate over phonetic spelling in early modern England, with two competing claims to antiquity, that of Old English on one side (eth), and that of Greek on the other (theta). I will study the uses of the digraph -th- to transcribe the sound corresponding to intervocalic -t- or -d- in foreign words from Romance languages (such as Spanish “armada”, or Italian “stoccata”), arguing that it serves both to reproduce as accurately as possible the original pronunciation for English readers and to nativise a foreign word by giving it a typically English spelling. These uses will be read against the projects for a reformed spelling of English put forward in the sixteenth century, in particular by Thomas Smith in De recta & emendata lingvæ Anglicæ scriptione, dialogus (publ. 1568). Through this triangulation between English, Continental vernaculars and classical languages (Latin and Greek), it will appear that English was defined from the outside, through interactions with other languages both synchronically and diachronically, and that it could sound as foreign to its native speakers as it did to foreigners.
‘The Noise Big History Makes: A Global History of Sound for the Anthropocene'
Chair Emilie Murphy (York)
This is a free morning/afternoon to allow you to take stock and catch up with missed sessions or to take a break from the screens.
This q&a is sponsored by the Research Institute of Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University.
When lockdown struck, many people found themselves starved of theatre and the creative industries were presented with an uncertain future and the challenge of how to continue live performances at a time when we could not meet face to face. Within a week of the lockdown being announced and to feed the need for live theatre, Robert Myles created The Show Must Go Online. Bringing together diverse actors, theatre-makers and Shakespeare lovers from across the globe, The Show Must Go Online makes use of Zoom’s interface to produce innovative productions of early modern drama that test the limits of what digital platforms can do. Since being founded as a response to Covid-19, The award-winning The Show Must Go Online has attracted over 200,000 ‘digital groundlings’ from more than 60 countries. The audience's spontaneous and lively interjections enhance the sense of community and fostered initiatives such as the creation of a hardship fund and merchandise to offer some support to those who freely give their time and talent. In this q&a, Myles and others reflect on their experiences of participating in The Show Must Go Online and how live streaming early modern texts creates new kinds of engagement between audience and performers.
Instead of online coffee breaks after each session, a Wonder Room will be available throughout the conference and registrants are welcome to dip into it to talk informally with each other. There will also be a few timetabled slots where you are welcome to mingle informally. It's a bring your own beverage affair and a link will be sent with joining details.
In the late-medieval Crown of Aragon the royal entries had a very important meaning for the cities, since they were seen as a moment of acceptation between the royal and the urban power. The king had to swear the laws and privileges of each territory, signing an agreement with his subjects. For this reason, these visits were celebrated with feasts, music, dances and joy.
The reception of Juan II of Aragon in Valencia in 1459 is an extraordinary case among these ceremonies, due to the rich documentation that is preserved about this event. On the one hand, texts generated around the municipal Council allow us to track the decisions and expenses that were produced, and on the other, chronicles and diaries make us possible to know the development of the festivities through the account of the chronicler.
In both cases, we can realize how sounds were present continuously in the different events that took place in this regal reception, from the different pageants and processions, to the theatrical representations that were held in the “entremeses” and at the main gate of the city.
The aim of this paper is to reconstruct, through the analysis of the remaining documentation, the soundscape of the celebrations that took place in this entry, questioning the intention and message of these sounds, depending on the listeners who were involved in them.
This paper explores the sonic politics and the role of music and musical activities in the everyday life of the Confraternity of the Misericordia Maggiore in Bergamo, located on the westernmost boundaries of the Venetian mainland. The Confraternity was highly prestigious in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and hired a succession of remarkable church composers and musicians for ceremonies, performances and other events that were staged within the Confraternity’s basilica and in other sacred and urban spaces around the town. From liturgical and civic spectacles with ephemeral architecture to processional apparati, music played a leading role in the charitable institution’s civic and religious rituals. An analysis of the entanglements of sound and space that we find in Early Modern Bergamo provides a vital window onto the complexity of the different religious and political imperatives guiding sacred and secular performances in this Venetian-ruled town. Bringing together a range of documentary and literary sources, such as ceremonial ledgers, correspondence, diaries, inventories and financial and legal records, together with digital humanities tools, this paper focuses on the many ways that the soundscape was mobilised as a medium for staging the prestige and extending the presence and political reach of the Confraternity of the Misericordia Maggiore. In doing so, this paper aims to expand and enhance recent theoretical work on soundscapes. A close analysis of the ways that sound and music shaped the Confraternity’s sacred and civic spaces, along with the events and activities that took place in them, demonstrates the multiple sensory registers through which religious and urban performances were encountered by spectators. Through this analysis, this paper will thus introduce the concept of ‘sensoryscapes’ as a means to account for the moments of entangled sensoriality that historians find in the archive.
During the final decades of the sixteenth century, a period of decline in the city’s agricultural production, population growth, and economic prosperity, the re-invigorated civic and devotional rituals of Córdoba, strongly influenced by the ideologies of the Council of Trent, placed a relentless emphasis on the themes of urban identity and monarchical allegiance. Cemented into place through elaborations of processional forms (through musical and other means), which became increasingly numerous as the century wore on, these brought local relics, in some cases made more prominent through new identifications and discoveries, to all areas of the city. This mixture of tradition and invention, which led to the elaboration of new cults, is also reflected in the expansion of the polyphonic repertory performed by the capilla of the Cathedral, brutally inserted into the ancient Mesquita from the 1520s onwards, both inside the building as well as in streets and public spaces. The increased Catholicisation of Córdoba under the authoritarian regime of Philip II, which culminated in the definitive expulsions of both conversos and moriscos in 1609, also transformed its soundscape. The elimination of the concept of convivencia, the alleged peaceful co-exisence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities, was now complete, in part achieved and accompanied by a transformation of the sounds of the city in many of its dimensions.
The Chapel Royal, as a result of its marginal position in Tudor historiography, is often critically under-explored and misunderstood. Historians have frequently made passing reference to the Chapel Royal, often making some reference to the problematic (as pointed to by John Milsom, and Katherine Butler, among others) statement that Elizabeth’s reign saw the ‘Golden Age’ of church music. While Chapel musical provisions were extensive, few have pointed to the political and religious intensity and influence of Elizabeth’s Chapel.
My research builds on the invaluable studies already conducted into the musical, administrative, sermonising, liturgical, and architectural aspects of the Chapel Royal, and claims that Elizabeth’s Chapel Royal hosted fierce religious identities, of both its staff and the members of court, which had a marked and distinctive influence on the shape of religion at Elizabeth’s court. The staff of Elizabeth’s Chapel Royal exercised a level of political autonomy and influence that has not been fully recognised by many scholarly works. This will be illustrated by utilising the work of twentieth century musicologists and cultural historians, along with extensive analysis of Chapel documents, domestic and foreign court records, copies of royal sermons, architectural plans, and records of expenditure and inventories of Elizabeth’s Chapels Royal and Peculiar. By drawing from such a range of evidence, I hope to not only illustrate the interdisciplinarity of Chapel study but promote an alternative approach for future study into what I believe to be the most important understudied aspect of the Tudor court.
Early Modern Politics required and created sounds. It also required music. Heralding the ruler came along with the signaling sounds of trumpets and drums, lauding him required a Te Deum to be sung, diplomatic etiquette required distinctive sounds and music at set occasions like banquets, festivities used both, festive music and festive sounds. Yet how important was the use of music as in distinction to sound? Did the soundscapes of public events allow for the reception of fine music at all, or to put it even more simply: did music matter?
In this paper I will argue the case for a politics of music evolving alongside a politics of sound. With an eye to Italy western European rulers discovered music as a mighty tool for the communication of courtly hierarchies. In France, England, and the Holy Roman Empire the exclusiveness of fine music reaching the ear of the ruler and his most distinguished guests only became a means to establish a fine, yet clearly demarcated hierarchy within the immersive sound experience created on festive occasions.
Anxieties about mind-wandering and attention failure were pervasive in early modern intellectual culture. Humanist pedagogues fretted over scatter-brained students, and religious thinkers obsessed over the elimination of disturbances from their devotional regimens. Noise was often to blame for moments of distraction. In a 1626 sermon, John Donne lamented that ‘a noise in mine eare’ while praying could throw him off completely. It’s no surprise, then, that the allegorical cast of Spenser’s Faerie Queene frequently become distracted by ‘perilous tumult’ and ‘troublesome noyes’. In Spenser’s fictional universe, it can be fatal to fail to attend to one’s symbolic surroundings and interpret them astutely. So, for the poem’s characters—and, by implication, its readers—the stakes of avoiding distraction are high. The literal noises which distract the characters are also an instance of noise in the more abstract sense: a random red herring which obscures meaning. Interpreting The Faerie Queene requires us to parse the distinction between signal and noise; between meaningful resonance and “perilous tumult”. The poem’s readers must contend with two kinds of noise as they attempt this task. First, the stylistic and structural qualities of the poem (and of romance in general): self-interruption, diversion, and sonic sensory overload. Second, the clamorous and contingent nature of romance’s early printed incarnations, which meant that books themselves were noisy objects. Consequently, I suggest that both literal and metaphorical noise are of central importance to The Faerie Queene.
This paper considers early modern wariness about what entered the head through the ears. The paper will read the literary alongside the medical texts of Elizabethan and Jacobean England and keep within hearing distance of an awareness of how plays worked on and by the ear in the period’s playhouses.
While playwrights staged literal and figurative cases of auricular poisonings – done, Claudius-style, by pouring actual poison into actual ears, or Faustus-style by overdosing on that alluring mind-altering drug, language – Puritan opponents of the theatre sought to bend the ears of legislators to their concern about the physical and moral corruption that would enter the body of the ‘audience’ attending the playhouse, and the medical writers conceived of the inner ear as the point where mind and world met. The ear was an open passage whereby that which was outward could become inward. Rhetoric sought to persuade by using ‘figures’ that would work upon the pliable matter of the imagination, but the contemporary non-literary writing posed the disturbing thought that the metaphor of the altered, re-moulded mind should be understood all too literally.
The paper will build on work I did in collaboration with Professor Laurie Maguire (forthcoming from Durham University Press), where we approach Marlowe’s Dr Faustus through the Medical Humanities and listen to the different aural worlds of the A and B Texts.
Parish churches in early modern Spain (in contrast to those of, say, England) have received little scholarly attention as regards their contribution to the urban soundscape, even though for many citizens the parish church would have acted as a sound beacon and been central to their experience of music in daily life. Existing studies in Spanish music historiography generally present raw archival data that record the identities of chapel masters, organists and, above all, the construction of organs, with little or no interpretation or synthesis of larger contextual issues. This paper considers the soundscape of Santa Maria del Pi from the completion of the Gothic church in 1453 until the first half of the seventeenth century. The church boasts the highest bell-tower (late fifteenth century) in Barcelona, and has been one of the city’s largest parishes since at least the eleventh century. Recent research enables the mapping of parishioners’ involvement in the church’s soundscape through analysis of its confraternities, endowments and donations, ritual spaces and urban ceremonial in the form of funeral services, processions and other events, in order to understand better the impact and meaning of the parish soundscape on them, whether as participants or witnesses.
Please note: this paper will be delivered in Spanish with an English transcript.
In this paper, my intention is to develop some conceptual elements that articulated the social construction of the soundscape of urban spaces in the Kingdom of Castile during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I propose a review of the acoustic spheres (normative, conflictive and festive) that structured the acoustic universe of the Castilian people during the Late Middle Ages and Early Modernity.
This proposal is part of the so-called “sensory turn” of the social sciences that has occurred in recent decades. It was defined by David Howes as a cultural approach to the study of the senses, and a sensory approach to the study of culture. Research will be presented through the analysis of a documentary corpus made up of normative documents (such as municipal ordinances, accords books, chapter records, diocesan synods and royal dispositions), judicial documents (taken from Archivo de la Real Chancillería de Valladolid y Archivo General de Simancas, mainly from Registro General del Sello) and chronicles.
‘The Songscapes of Early Modern Women’
Chair Jennifer Richards (Newcastle)