Session 45 (Free Papers): Music across the seas

Thursday, 8 July 2021, 17.00-19.00, Room 209 | Chair: Manuel Pedro Ferreira (CESEM, NOVA FCSH)

Polyphony as a common language: Martoretta’s Greek madrigal in the context of the 16th-century Mediterranean region | Amedeo Fera (Independent Researcher)

Giandomenico Martoretta was a Calabrian composer of the 16th century. His third book of madrigals, published in 1554, is dedicated to a Cypriot nobleman, Pietro Singlitico. The majority of the madrigals contained in the book are also dedicated to people from Cyprus. Apparently Martoretta stayed in the island for a long period on his way back to Italy after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This paper aims at investigating the significance of music in constructing and maintaining a cultural network throughout the Mediterranean sea: it seems in fact that polyphony can be thought of as one of the connecting elements of an international, polyglot and multiculturalsociety, a common practice through which people with different cultural backgrounds couldhave come together.

In particular, the paper will take into consideration a specific madrigal (O pathos isdjio/Inmezzo a due vermiglie fresche rose) that has a double clef (a device that allows to sing the madrigal in two different modes) and a double text (Greek and Italian). This composition can exemplify the dynamics of cultural exchange that were possible in the Mediterranean under Venetian rule, where Greek and Latin culture coexisted and cross-fertilized themselves. Although this phenomenon is particularly evident in painting (e.g. the so called Veneto-Cretan school of icon painting) it has not yet been investigated in music. The influence of local traditions on Martoretta’s madrigals is quite evident in the text choices, namely in the use of different languages (Sicilian dialect, Cypriot Greek, Latin, Italian): from a musical point of view it is perhaps possible to discover traces of local musical idioms within his compositions.

Musicology and the New Thalassology: Questions of scale and method | Kate van Orden (Harvard University)

In the last decade, the vastness of the Mediterranean Sea has made it a model for global history. Called the New Thalassology by historians of the Mediterranean such as David Abulafia (author of The Great Sea, 2011) and Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, (authors of The Corrupting Sea, 2000), Mediterraneanists have been celebrating its historiographic potential: “The systematic comparison of real and metaphorical seas can suggest a new configuration of history, and one that might attain a global scale” (Horden and Peregrine, AHR 111[2006]). Meanwhile, Atlantic studies are multiplying, particularly of the colonial world, journals like the Rivista di Studi Indo-Mediterranei, launched in 2010, see the worlds of Mediterranean and Indian Ocean as conjoined, and recent trans-oceanic studies are being framed as Mediterratlantic.

Early musicology’s embrace of Mediterranean Studies is proving extremely useful as a place from which to contest Eurocentric histories of music and develop new working methods equipped to address the confluence of musics in places where cultures, religions, languages, and people were in constant contact. In this paper,

1) I outline approaches drawn from sociolinguistics, ethnomusicology, book history, and cultural history that seem to be proving advantageous to research in this area.

2) I ask some larger questions designed to incite discussion concerning matters of scale. What is the relationship between micro and macro history in musicological research? How can musicology best operate at the scale of seas and oceans?

2) I wrap up by setting musicological research in perspective. Historians regularly pursue hard forms of world history designed to discover global unities created by economic, colonial, and—eventually—industrial processes. But quite different results emerge in soft forms of global history that take cultural variabilities and the crossing of peoples, religions, languages, and musics into account. It is here, I argue, that musicology stands to make significant contributions to Mediterranean Studies and the New Thalassology.

Musical evidence of connections between al-Andalus and the troubadours | Verónica da Rosa Guimarães (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

Since the early 20th century, scholars have debated the role of the poetic-musical culture of medieval Islamic Iberia (al-Andalus) in the development of troubadour lyric and music. More recently, there has also been an increased academic interest in the Andalusian music of North Africa, particularly with respect to claims of heritage from al-Andalus. Previous research on both topics has relied on comparative literature methodologies due to the lack of notated music from al-Andalus. Thus, no musical connections have been found between al-Andalus and the troubadours or the Andalusian music of North Africa. As a consequence, these networks of influence have remained speculative and thus often dismissed. Using a computer-aided approach, I compared the entire corpus of troubadour melodies with a sample of 158 melodies from the Andalusian music of Morocco (al-Āla). The results revealed three melodic concordances between melodies by troubadours Bernart de Ventadorn and Monge de Montaudon, copied in a manuscript from late 13th century, and al-Āla songs recorded in the 1960s. In this paper, I argue that, because the most plausible link between the troubadours and al-Āla is al-Andalus, these concordances are the first musical evidence of sharing of ideas between al-Andalus and Occitania from very early in the troubadour timeline. Those results also demonstrate a direct link between the musical culture of al-Andalus and al-Āla, thus supporting the claims of Andalusian heritage of the latter. Finally, this study indicates that contemporary oral musical traditions can be good resources for answering research questions about the music of the past.