Keynote 2: The soundscape of parish churches in early modern Spain

Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 17.00-18.00, Room 209 Tess Knighton (ICREA / Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Parish churches in early modern Spain (in contrast to those of, say, England or Flanders) 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 Spanish parish churches through analysis of Santa Maria del Pi in Barcelona, 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 day-to-day functioning, 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.