International Colloquium Maneras de vivir lo femenino en la España moderna, 5-7 October 2016

Programme

An international colloquium on women’s lives in modern Spain was held in Barcelona between 5 and 7 October, both at the Facultat de Geografia i Història of the Universitat de Barcelona and the Museu del Disseny. It was organised by the University of Barcelona and the Associació per a l’Estudi del Moble (Association for the Study of Furniture) as part of the R+D Project ‘Maneras de vivir en la España moderna: Condiciones materiales y formas culturales de lo cotidiano’ (‘Ways of living in modern Spain: Material conditions and cultural forms in the daily life’). This event brought together historians from several Spanish and Italian universities who approached the subject from different perspectives and disciplines.

Gender, similarly to social status and economy, was an essential factor in the ways of life in the modern period and in the definition of spaces. It was particularly interesting that the works presented at this Colloquium addressed women in general and not only noblewomen, aristocrats and high-class women. Female confraternities, women in rural environments, convents, and women in domestic settings such as the kitchen and the bedroom were under consideration. The attention paid to several vestiges of the material culture of the period, as to jewellery, ceramics, books and pieces of furniture, was remarkable. The Colloquium included a visit to the Museu del Disseny (Design Museum) in Barcelona.

This Colloquium made clear that it is necessary to nuance the traditional gendering of space through the traditional dichotomy between public and private. In the modern period, women’s activities were not totally confined to domestic settings, as women also acted in the public sphere, even though their activities are less obvious in historical records than those of men, and special methodologies and research perspectives are required to make women’s lives more visible. [Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita]

 

Session on female confraternities

Inaugural lecture

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Med-Ren Conference, University of Sheffield, 5-8 July 2016

Med-Ren

This year’s Med-Ren conference took place at the Department of Music at the University of Sheffield and included over 120 papers, with two sessions specifically devoted to the Iberian world—’Sources’ and ‘Performance and Reception’. This was my seventh time at this conference and the session to which I contributed, chaired by Jennifer Thomas, was entitled ‘Women patrons in the sixteenth century’. It included the paper of Aimee E. Gonzalez (University of Florida) about ‘Saints, sons, and sovereignty: Mouton’s Gloriosa Virgo Margareta in the court of Anne of Brittany (1477-1514)’, the work of Vincenzo Borghetti (Universita degli Studi di Verona) about ‘Reading music, performing identity: Margaret of Austria and her Chansonnier BrusBR 228’, and my own paper on ‘Women and networks of musical patronage in the sixteenth-century Iberian world: Ana de Mendoza, princess of Eboli (1540-1592)’. It was very inspiring to put together different contributions to the study of early modern music from a gender perspective. The chair of the session had encouraged the three of us to share our papers before the conference, so that we were able to read the contributions in advance and to have a deeper and more critical understanding during the session itself.

Med-Ren

Santiago Ruiz contribution to the session ‘Iberia-Performance and Reception’

A gender approach was also present in Linda Austern’s keynote lecture on ‘Anne Boleyn, musician: A romance across centuries and media’. Austern’s work on gender and music in Renaissance England is well known. On this occasion, she analysed biographical accounts, scholarly studies, and visual representations of Anne Boleyn’s musicality, from less than a year after her execution to the present. Her approach seemed quite original and innovative to me, and her presentation was extremely attractive and up-to-date from the visual point of view.

In addition to sessions devoted to particular geographical areas, genres, sources, historiography, theory and analysis, visual arts and musical iconography were indeed quite present in this year’s Med-Ren, with two sessions on ‘Music and art in Renaissance Italy’, including some papers resulting from the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Music in the Art of Renaissance Italy, c.1420-1540′, which involves most of the members of this year’s organising committee. Thanks to Tim Shephard and his team for such a motivating conference.

Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita
8 July 2016

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Visit to the Carmelite convent in Vic (Barcelona), 7 June 2016

From lef to right: Aurelia Pessarrodona, Veròniza Zaragoza, Mercè Gras, Marc Sogues, and Tess Knighton at the parlour, examining several manuscript books preserved at the convent archive

From lef to right: Aurelia Pessarrodona, Veròniza Zaragoza, Mercè Gras, Marc Sogues, and Tess Knighton at the parlour, examining several manuscript books preserved at the convent archive

Yesterday we visited the Carmelite convent in Vic together with a group of colleagues doing research into conventual culture from a variety of perspectives: Verònica Zaragoza, Marc Sogues, Aurelia Pessarrodona, and Mercè Gras, who organised the visit.

We were able to listen to the singing of the Hour of Sext in the impressive convent church, and to examine several seventeenth-century manuscripts preserved at the convent archive, such as books containing the Masses and Offices founded at the convent, books of professions, and books including lyrics of villancicos, ensaladas and romances to be sung. After having lunch in the parlour, we met the community of nuns through the grille. It was interesting to have a talk with them and to know more about their daily routine and their musical activities. They even sang and played guitars, tambourines and castanets for us.

Ascensión Mazuela

Romance

“Romance al Santissimo Sacramento al tono y glosa de en saber la Reyna Dido”, in a manuscript book of verse to be sung by the Carmelite nuns, preserved at the convent archive

Low choir from which the Carmelite nuns sang the Hour of Sext

Low choir from which the Carmelite nuns sang the Hour of Sext

It was a rare experience to be able to spend a day in a Carmelite convent; the nuns made us very welcome even though, as a cloistered order, it was was only possible to speak and listen to them through grilles. Listening to Sext was interesting: the nuns began with spoken prayers, which were, in effect, semi-sung, with a natural rhythm and cadencing that sprang from the words. At times, the voices spoke-sang a fifth or third apart, the division arising quite spontaneously from the natural speaking pitch of the seventeen nuns. The actual singing seemed very much in accordance with St Teresa of Avila’s instructions: on a single tone (with the occasional dip down to the note below at the ends of phrases), and in a manner that was modest and essentially inward-sounding rather than with any sense of vocal projection. The harmonium was played at the end in a couple pieces that sounded like Anglican hymns!

Angels playing musical instruments, depicted in the altar retable of the convent church

Angels playing musical instruments, depicted in the altar retable of the convent church

The extraordinary exuberance in colour, space and visual movement of the Baroque church interior provided a dramatic contrast with the absolute simplicity of the whitewashed walls and small, enclosed spaces of the parlour and locutory – or, indeed, of the unadorned exterior walls. Looking at the manuscripts was a treat: why copy the ensalada texts? To read, whether aloud or silently, at Christmas and ponder their allegorical meanings? What did the nuns make of their evocation of events such as fires, jousts, battles etc. and the inclusion of popular songs that they had presumably not experienced or heard from the moment they entered cloistered life? Did they have the 1581 edition of Flecha’s works to hand in the convent music library? And could they possibly have memorised all that music and sung them from the texts alone?

Many thanks indeed to Mercè Gras for organizing a memorable day. As a group of early modernists we hope to make our next outing to Sant Jerònim de la Murtra and to organize other events in the future.

Tess Knighton

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Seminar on historical musicology by Tess Knighton at the ESMUC, 26 May 2016

Sílvia Martínez and Tess Knighton during the debate

Sílvia Martínez and Tess Knighton during the debate

Tess Knighton participated in a seminar on possible connexions between historical urban musicology and ethnomusicology organised by Sílvia Martínez at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya and addressed to undergraduate students. After a theoretical introduction, Tess presented examples of source materials and methodologies and case-studies related to the research she is developing as part of the URBANMUSICS project.

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Talleres de Historia de la Cultura 2016, IV: Las artes y la representación de poder

Ascensión Mazuela Anguita 26/05/2016

Jordi Ballester (on the right) and Lluís Calvo (on the left)

Jordi Ballester (on the right) and Lluís Calvo (on the left)

The forth and last of this year’s workshops on cultural history consisted of a cross-disciplinary approach to the arts and the representation of power. After an introduction of Tess Knighton as the chair of the session, in which the influential Art and Power: Renaissance Festivals 1450-1650 (Woodbridge, 1984) by Roy Strong served to contextualise the subject, the keynote talk was given by musicologist Jordi Ballester (UAB). Through written and iconographic source material from Catalonia and Valencia in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, he analysed the imaginarium related to medieval instrumentalists, in particular trumpet players and other heraldic musicians, from the perspective of the medieval receptor. He showed how heraldic musicians were considered to symbolise the voice of the powerful and how, as a consequence, they might have evoked repression.

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Esther Tello’s talk

The second part of the workshop included three shorter talks by medieval historian Esther Tello and musicologists Mauricio Molina and Ferran Escrivà. Esther Tello presented an insightful description of the representation of power in the processional itineraries of fifteenth-century Saragossa. She focused on liturgical events such as Corpus Christi, festivities of saints such as the Guardian Angel and Saint Engracia, and the visit of Pope Benedict XIII to Saragossa in 1410. Through the representation of power in these processions, power and devotion were clearly inextricably linked, and the boundaries between political and religious institutions were far from clear.

Mauricio Molina

Mauricio Molina

Mauricio Molina’s talk focussed on medieval song and the use of language as a way of displaying identity, power and social status, and thus expanded our understanding of medieval song as a vehicle for the discourse of power. The last paper, by Ferran Escrivà, provided an analysis of the representation of power in urban events using as a case study a procession celebrated in Lisbon in 1588. This work-in-progress drew on material from a printed relación containing insights on the uses of music at the event. Through this procession, Lisbon was represented as an economical and political centre, Juan de Borja was enhanced as a potential candidate for viceroy, and the Company of Jesus showed its privileged position in relation to other Portuguese religious communities.

Ferran Escrivà

Ferran Escrivà

The four contributions of the workshop led to debate of particular issues relating to musical iconography and the representation of power in urban events. This year’s four workshops have been packed full of methodological meeting points and interdisciplinary debate between scholars in the humanities.

 

 

 

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VII Jornades d’Història del Monestir de les Avellanes Història de l’Església i la religiositat, Cultura i coneixement als monestirs medievals, 27-28 June 2016, Monestir de les Avellanes (Os de Balaguer)

Tríptic VII JHMA copia

Tess Knighton will be given the paper “La vida musical de un monasterio: el caso de San Jerónimo de la Murtra, (ss. XIV-XVI)” at the VII Jornade d’Història del Monestir de les Avellanes, Història de l’Església i la religiositat, Cultura i coneixement als monestirs medievals.

Download the full programme

 

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Talleres de Historia de la Cultura 2016, 3: Fiestas y recreaciones urbanas, Wednesday, 27 April 2016

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The third of this year’s workshops on cultural history took place in the Sala de Musicología of the Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC) on 27 April. The keynote talk was given by archivist Mercè Gras Casanovas whose research into the cultural life of Barcelona convents (particularly those of the Discalced Carmelites in Catalunya) in the early modern era is revealing all kinds of fascinating and important material. Recent investigation into the cultural activities of female convents in Spain is beginning to bring our knowledge about nuns’ music-making into line with the more prolific research—and publication of that research—into the situation in Italian convents, and similar patterns are beginning to emerge for the city of Barcelona as for Milan or Venice. Such research, however, is not easy, and it is largely thanks to Mercè’s position as archivist, and to her generosity in sharing her findings with colleagues, that these advances are being made and consolidated.

Ascensión Mazuela, whose research forms part of the ‘Urban musics and musical practices’ project, is similarly unearthing important material as her response to Mercè’s wide-ranging keynote on music-making within the walls of the convent showed. All kinds of musical activity took place inside convents for the recreation of the nuns themselves, and in various different spaces—upper and lower choirs, cloisters, individual cells—as well as for others who heard them sing and play in the locutori or parlor, and on the occasion of the professing of nuns in the convent church. However, it is also clear that their presence at urban religious feasts—occasionally in processions, but more often performing from the gates and walls of the convents—was an essential aspect of the sacralization of the city on these occasions, their voices consistently being compared to those of angels as they sang from high up, both so that in performance their voices could be heard and symbolically as being placed in an intercessory position between earth and heaven.

The performative aspect of urban feasts was the subject of Alberto Martín’s intervention, based on his work as an archivist in Zamora, and his recent research for a brilliant doctoral thesis on urban music-making in that city in the early modern period. The historical soundscape of the city, he suggested, has to be built on a consideration of three main aspects: space, performance and memory. His brief discussion of the sources—so often partial in both senses of the word—was particularly useful. Jordi Raventós based his discussion on the festivities of Carnival, and the expression of social differentiation through physical manifestation in the form of bodily acts, that might include wearing a masque, singing verses of different kinds, dancing in public or private, or throwing eggs filled with coloured water. Through such uses of the body to express bodily excess and the overturning or infringement of social norms, Carnival opened up spaces for interaction between different members of urban society.

Finally, Gaston Gilabert offered a fascinating insight into some of the many ways in which music contributed to early modern theatre, basing his discussion in part on Ignacio Camargo’s Discurso theológico sobre los theatros y comedias de este siglo (1689). He is also involved in a major research project at the Universitat de Barcelona for the cataloguing of rubrics for musical intervention in Golden Age plays in order to extrapolate information on audience expectations as regards the visibility and invisibility of musicians (contributing to their ‘magical’ quality) and the dramatic contexts in which musical performance of one kind or another was heard and received. Overall, it was a session packed full of information that led to debate of various issues relating to the use of fragmentary or incomplete source materials and the overriding importance of taking the performance aspect into consideration when analyzing urban festivities and recreations.

TK 12 May 2016

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