Session 11 (Themed Papers): Confraternities and the urban soundscape II

Tuesday, 6 July 2021, 9.00-10.30, Room 217 | Chair: Tess Knighton (ICREA / Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Session Abstract

A group session is proposed based on the research project “The Contribution of Confraternities and Guilds to the Urban Soundscape in the Iberian Peninsula, 1400-1700” (CONFRASOUND) (MINECO PID2019-109422GB-100), directed by Tess Knighton. The devotional and musical practices of confraternities and guilds in the later Middle Ages and Early Modern period have attracted the attention of historical musicologists working in, above all, the Italian cultural context. Relatively little has been done in this respect for the Iberian Peninsula, with a handful of notable exceptions (Robledo, Pacheco, Bejarano Pellicer), although it is clear that these organisations also contributed in a transformative way to the urban soundscape there on a daily basis. Different aspects in terms of research materials, approach, methodology and digital tools are presented and discussed by the six members of the working team, with a brief introductory presentation by the project director. The project aims to cover a number of different urban centres and environments to facilitate analysis across larger issues relating to the urban soundscape, such as performative topography, acoustic spaces and communities, social and political life, devotional practice and religious belief, as well as the density of musical experience and its sensory and emotional impact on the inhabitants of the city. The urban centres under consideration include Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia, Granada, Braga and Prague, to give an insight into Iberian practice beyond the Peninsula itself. The six papers offer new archival research with regard to a broad typology of confraternities and draw on a range of analytical methodologies including digital cartography.

Round table: Open discussion of issues and questions arising, not necessarily restricted to the Iberian Peninsula

Confraternities as an interface between citizens and convent musical ceremonial in sixteenth-century Barcelona | Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita (Universidad de Granada)

Confraternities offer an example of the porosity of the early modern urban cloister for musical reasons. Sixteenth-century Barcelonan nunneries were the seat of numerous confraternities, which used conventual spaces and nuns singing for the celebration of specified feasts for devotional purposes. Drawing on the case-study of the Benedictine nunnery of Sant Pere de les Puel·les, this paper presents an analysis of a variety of archival documents in order to assess the close connection between citizens and conventual musical ceremonies through the membership of a confraternity, their wish to be buried in the convents, and the funerary ceremonies this implied.

Methodological Approaches to the Use of GIS Tools for Soundscapes Analysis | Sergi González González (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

The digital humanities provide multiple resources for the study and analysis of the soundscape. In this sense, the GIS software offers a series of possibilities and tools that allow to systematize and interweave a large series of parameters, significantly helping to extract data and its subsequent analysis, both qualitative and quantitative. With the help of GIS tools for geolocation, and developing the “soundcloud” methodology borrowed from the study of soundscapes, the preliminary results of the study of four confraternities in the city of Tarragona are presented. On the patronal feast days of the brotherhoods, the soundscape of the city was significantly altered; new festive sounds appeared and everyday sounds disappeared. The sound density offered by certain spaces, the primary spheres of activity, the processional routes and the mixture of the natural sounds of the city with confraternal ceremonial can be analysed using the resources offered by GIS tools. Tarragona, a relatively small, self-contained city, has the necessary information to study the relevant parameters, including the preservation of the original acoustic spaces of the medieval city as well as the essential documentary sources. It is thus an ideal candidate to implement the use of GIS tools within the field of historical soundscape studies. The aim is to create a model that will be tested and contrasted in order to formulate the necessary instructions for its implementation in other cities of the COFRASOUND project.

Cartography of confraternal activity in the context of the medieval and early modern urban soundworld: A preliminary report | Juan Ruiz Jiménez (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de Granada)

Based on the CONFRASOUND project data incorporated into the Historical Soundscape digital platform, the possibilities presented by this tool for the cartographic analysis of different aspects of the multifaceted activity that the confraternities deployed in the framework of the medieval and modern city are explored. The geolocation of the different brotherhoods will allow us to know the density of their distribution in the different sacred and hospital institutions in which they developed their cultic activity and the diversity of their advocations and typologies. The possibility of graphically representing the itineraries of their movements in the city highlights the privileged routes and the role that these institutions had in the colonisation of urban space. The associated database and the tags added to the different incorporated events enable us to identify and filter different aspects of the gestures, materiality and sound linked to the cultic and festive activity promoted by the confraternal universe.