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Marshall, Melanie : Transgressing Boundaries: Rore and the Erotics of Counterpoint

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- Melanie Marshall’s Research ( :
'This paper analyses certain of Rore’s madrigals and motets in light of the findings of Laurie Stras and Bonnie Blackburn that Cinquecento music theory associated certain contrapuntal practices with certain erotic practices; frequently, composers use these contrapuntal practices to highlight double entendres in a text.
The musical encoding of textual eroticism in sixteenth-century Italian secular song by means of B flats and contrapuntal and modal irregularities, which has been amply demonstrated in recent research by Laurie Stras and Bonnie Blackburn, can also be documented in the work of Cipriano de Rore, who in 'Non è lasso martire' and 'Se ben il duol' from the Quarto libro de madrigali a cinque voci (1557) transgresses conventions of counterpoint in sections that are open to erotic readings, and also employs suggestive B flats on appropriate words. However, similar passages occur in his settings of Petrarch's 'Vergine' texts in the Terzo libro de madrigali a cinque voci (1548) and in his settings from the Song of Songs. In each case the transgression accompanies a word that in secular contexts might have an erotic meaning: for example, the consecutive fifths at 'pena' (a word with sexual connotations in many secular erotic texts) in 'Vergine, quante lagrim'ho già sparte'. I demonstrate that the conventions of musical eroticism established for the secular repertoire are also applicable to spiritual music, and I consider the possibility of intertextual relations between the two.
Status: Being incorporated into book project'

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