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Listening as Spiritual Practice in Early Modern Italy

Listening as Spiritual Practice in Early Modern Italy

Andrew Dell’Antonio
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 235
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  • Book Info
    Listening as Spiritual Practice in Early Modern Italy
    Book Description:

    The early seventeenth century, when the first operas were written and technical advances with far-reaching consequences—such as tonal music—began to develop, is also notable for another shift: the displacement of aristocratic music-makers by a new professional class of performers. In this book, Andrew Dell’Antonio looks at a related phenomenon: the rise of a cultivated audience whose skill involved listening rather than playing or singing. Drawing from contemporaneous discourses and other commentaries on music, the visual arts, and Church doctrine, Dell’Antonio links the new ideas about cultivated listening with other intellectual trends of the period: humanistic learning, contemplative listening (or watching) as an active spiritual practice, and musical mysticism as an ideal promoted by the Church as part of the Catholic Reformation.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95010-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Listening as Spiritual Practice
    (pp. 1-14)

    Pierre Bourdieu’s scare quotes around the termspiritualindicate that he is arguing meta phorically and perhaps with a good dose of irony, drawing analogies between social understandings of religious transcendence and musical fruition rather than postulating their direct equivalence. While there would be much to say about Bourdieu’s meta phorical characterization as it applies to the place of music in the post-Enlightenment European tradition, for a group of influential thinkers in early modern Italy (and Rome in particular) the link between sonic and spiritual transcendence was very direct. Leaders of the post-Tridentine Catholic Reformation understood the role of visual...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Rapt Attention
    (pp. 15-34)

    The goal of expressing or evokingaffetto—a term loosely but imprecisely translatable as “affect” that suggests the ineffable nature of human emotional/spiritual response—was introduced by advocates of early modern Catholic reform to justify the increasing focus on the recipient of a spiritual message rather than its creator. In this chapter, I will briefl y discuss connections between the various uses of the concept ofaffettoin post-Tridentine discourse on preaching, the visual arts, and musical practice, particularly in the evocation and contemplation of mystical delight and transcendent union with the divine. I will then focus on musical manifestations...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Aural Collecting
    (pp. 35-65)

    By collecting artistic and natural artifacts and wonders, the early modern cultivated individual sought to achieve connoisseurship through the careful balance of receptivity to the marvelous and repeated, careful parsing and categorizations of items. Through the display of the collection, such connoisseurship could then be deployed as evidence of the individual’s sophistication, and thus as a marker of elevated class status. Collections are described in contemporary literature as contributions made by connoisseurs to the shaping of artistic taste by providing models from which artists could draw, underlining the increasing role of the educated connoisseur in the determination of artistic meaning...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Proper Listening
    (pp. 66-94)

    Spiritual leaders of the Catholic Reformation developed a devotional model often characterized asrecte sentire,a “true way of feeling/thinking” that could guide the righteous Christian toward correct understanding and embodiment of the One True Faith. Then as now,sentirealso translates as “to hear”: while the Roman church establishment was not primarily concerned with codifying that aspect of spiritual experience, much evidence points to a significant awareness of the rhetorical potential of music to work both for and against the purposes of religious edification. Certainly, an increasing interest in guiding the “proper” evaluation of visual or verbal artifacts—particularly...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Noble and Manly Understanding
    (pp. 95-120)

    In his role as poet and literary critic, and as artistic and cultural advisor to the highest-ranking members of the Borghese and Barberini circles, Lelio Guidiccioni was one of the most prominent and influentialvirtuosiin the early modern Roman curia. He is best known to musicologists as the dedicatee of Pietro Della Valle’s “Della musica dell’età nostra” (“On the Music of Our Time”; ca. 1640), arguably the most detailed contemporary account of seventeenth-century Roman musical culture.

    Della Valle’s essay has been widely excerpted, cited, and mined for information on early baroque practices. Scholars have not, however, addressed Guidiccioni’s own...

  9. Envoy: From Gusto to Goût
    (pp. 121-134)

    Lelio Guidiccioni died on July 7, 1643. As we saw in the previous chapters, it was his wish—explicitly expressed in his will—that some of his most prized possessions (not only items that he had collected in embodying his role asvirtuosoof taste but also those writings through which he had modeled thevirtuosoreceptivity to transcendence that he had so carefully cultivated) be made more widely available, both for the benefit and glory of the Barberinifamigliaand for the edification of the spiritually mindedvirtuosiwho would follow him.

    Unfortunately for Guidiccioni’s potential legacy, Urban VIII...

  10. APPENDIX: Lelio Guidiccioni, “Della Musica”: Transcription and Translation
    (pp. 135-156)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 157-196)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-212)
  13. Index
    (pp. 213-218)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-219)