XI Jornades AVAMUS de Musicologia: ‘Musiques i espais urbans a l’Edat Moderna: Nous apropaments metodològics de la Musicologia’, Sueca, 7 March 2015

Tess Knighton

Tess Knighton

On Saturday we gathered in the attractive Biblioteca Pública (a restored mill) of the small town of Sueca some 30 kilometres south of Valencia for the meeting of the Associació Valenciana de Musicologia. Sueca boasts a number of unusual features including the depiction of a dog tied to an orange tree as its crest, and a series of tiled plaques with the emblems of the Crucifixion on its main church. It was a long but very fruitful day, atended by over 30 members of the society. The meeting, with its focus on music and urban spaces, gave Ascension and I a chance to present papers on our most research on female convents and music in domestic spaces in early modern Barcelona and, at the end of the day as part of an open discussion/ mini-workshop, to talk about the Marie Curie ‘Musics and musical practices in sixteenth-century Europe’ project and how it might serve as a model for a similar focus for research in Valencia. In between, there were excellent full papers from Eduardo Carrero Santamaría on different kinds of processions in various cities of the Crown of Aragon (based on the wonderful research he carried out on the surviving consuetas of the región) and Rubén Pacheco Mozas on musical practices in the town of Elche, famous for its mystery play. Many of the ‘mysteries’ of this now World Heritage cultural event appear to have been resolved by his painstaking research. Both papers opened up new perspectives on the dynamic ceremonial traditions that flourished in the urban context in the early modern period. Shorter papers were presented by Ilaria Gripaudo (read in absentia by Abel Puig, president of AVAMUS) on feminine convents and urban spaces in Palermo, and Eva Esteve on the acoustic of the interior of Toledo Cathedral and the positioning of those present—clergy, musicians and the congregation— within the space formed by choir and presbytery: ‘a catedral within a cathedral’ as she put it. The role of tapicero—responsible for bringing out and putting into place the different carpets and tapestries required for different feasts—was intriguing: clearly these decorative elements also served an acoustic purpose. Another very interesting contribution was that of Irene Klein Farisa of the Universitat de València who explained how she is devising a ‘musico-literary itinerary through sixteenth-century Valencia’ which could be used by schools, music conservatories and tourist boards to deepen and make accesible understanding of the cultural past of the city. Valencia, with its viceregal court, powerful nobility and mercantile economy, made a particularly important contribution to Renaissance literary and musical developments, with the presence of Luis Milán, whose pioneering book of intabulated works for vihuela (El maestro) was printed in 1536, Joan Timoneda and many other poets, writers and musicians. There was plenty of lively discussion and a general sense of enthusiasm for the study of urban musicology with its multi-faceted and very rich potential for unlocking musical experience of the past and making it part of our cultural understanding and appreciation today.

Tess Knighton

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