By Tess Knighton
Towards the end of 2014 a new collection of essays appeared that makes for essential reading for anyone interested in cathedral and urban music history in Spain in the medieval and early modern periods. The book is edited by art historian Eduardo Carrero Santamaría (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona) with the title Arquitectura y liturgia. El contexto artístico de las consuetas catedralicias en la Corona de Aragón (Mallorca: Objeto Perdido, 2014), 482pp. The result of a major research project (Arquitectura y liturgia. El contexto artístico de las consuetas catedralicias de la Corona de Aragón, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, HAR-2009-09366) led by Carrero, this collection of essays covers all the cathedrals of the Crown of Aragón where a consueta or ordinario survives (and some where it doesn’t) from the medieval and early modern periods: Barcelona, Girona, Huesca, Jaca, Lleida, Mallorca, Roda, Segorbe/ Albarracín, Seu d’Urgell, Tarazona, Tarragona, Tortosa, Valencia, Vic and Zaragoza (La Seo and el Pilar). Last Friday (16 January 2015) Carrero gave a very informative lecture on the subject of consuetas from Aragonese cathedrals at the Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC): ‘Catedrales y consuetas catedralicias en la Edad Media en la Corona de Aragón. Un balance’. He pointed out that the preservation of these documents –essentially guides to the realization of the liturgy– is very variable: Valencia Cathedral boasts several highly detailed consuetas, while none has been found at Tarazona Cathedral. He also raised a number of general issues: the importance of reading these invaluable documents in conjunction with other documentary evidence; the individuality, even idiosyncrasy, of each cathedral’s ceremonial, often influenced by its peculiar or specific architectonic space and its longstanding musico-liturgical traditions, generally reflected in the missals and other liturgical books printed for each diocese from the last decades of the fifteenth century until the implementation of the decree of the Council of Trent; at the same time, the variation with which the Tridentine reforms were gradually phased into the Aragonese cathedrals, several of which, like Zaragoza, resisted their implementation by invoking the clause relating to the possibility of retaining age-old liturgies; and the reforming impetus that led to the moving of the choir from the capilla mayor to the nave which necessitated the moving or rebuilding of organs and the modification or drawing up of a new consueta. This was a brilliant resumé of some of the important aspects of his project and the collection of essays that resulted, a volume that is a must-read for music historians. One has the sense that the whole endeavour has been informed and guided by Eduardo Carrera’s conviction that we cannot understand the cultural –in the widest sense of the word– importance of the cathedral environment without endeavouring to analyse the functional and practical aspects of the liturgy, the spatial and architectonic geography, the artworks, the trajectory of processions and liturgical choreography, as well as the musical elements: forms, styles, structures, dynamics—all relate to the ceremonial function outlined in greater or lesser detail in each consueta.