Materialities: Books, Readers, and the Chanson in Sixteenth-Century Europe

ISBN : 9780199360642

Kate Van Orden
344 Pages
162 x 240 mm
Pub date
Aug 2015
New Cultural History of Music
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Ephemeral, fragile, often left unbound, sixteenth-century songbooks led fleeting lives in the pockets of singers and on the music desks of instrumentalists. Constantly in action, they were forever being used up, replaced, or abandoned as ways of reading changed. As such they document the acts of early musicians and the practices of everyday life at the unseen margins of elite society. Materialities is a cultural history of song on the page. It addresses a series of central questions concerning the audiences for written music by concentrating on the first genre to be commercialized by music printers: the French chanson. Scholars have long stressed that chansons represent the most broadly disseminated polyphony of the sixteenth century, but Materialities is the first book to account for the cultural reach of the chanson across a considerable cross-section of European society. Musicologist Kate van Orden brings extensive primary research and new analytical models to bear in this remarkable history of songbooks, music literacy, and social transformation during the first century of music printing. By tracking chansons into private libraries and schoolrooms and putting chansonniers into dialogue with catechisms, civility manuals, and chapbooks, Materialities charts the social distribution of songbooks, the gradual moralization of song, and the ways children learned their letters and notes. Its fresh conclusions revise several common assumptions about the value early moderns attributed to printed music, the levels of literacy required to perform polyphony, and the way musicians did or did not "read" their songbooks. With musical perspectives that can invigorate studies of print culture and the history of reading, Materialities is an essential guide for musicologists working with original sources and historians of the book interested in the vocal performances that operated alongside print.


List of Illustrations
1- Introduction: Livres de chansons
What Is a Book of Music? Some Bibliographic Basics
Forms and Formats
Serial Publication
Unbound Parts and Binder's Volumes
Book History, Music Bibliography, and the Chanson
2- Printers and Booksellers
Partbooks as Scripts for Performance
Distribution en blanc
Music Sales and Some Evidence of Stock Bindings
3- Collectors and Libraries
Music in Private Collections
Music Collections Small and Large
Survival Rates
Books in the Cabinet
Chansonniers and Chapbooks of Poetry
4- Singing and Literacy
5- Latin Primers
Ave Maria and the ABCs
The Catechists and the Canons
Motets and Broad Readership
6- Civilities and Chansons
Learning to Read in French
The Caracteres de Civilite for Music of Robert Granjon
Polite Speech and Its Texts
Trophees de Musique
Duo Arrangements and Dechiffrage
7- A New Generation of Musical Civilities: The Quatrains de Pybrac
Pibrac's Quatrains and Moral Restraint
Pibrac, the Psalms, and the Business of Music Printing
Postscript- Cultures of Music

About the author: 

Kate van Orden specializes in cultural history. Her books include Music, Discipline, and Arms in Early Modern France (2005), which won the Lewis Lockwood Award from the American Musicological Society, the edited volume, Music and the Cultures of Print (2000), and Music, Authorship, and the Book in the First Century of Print (2014). She performs on historical bassoons and has recorded for Sony, Virgin Classics, Glossa, Teldec, and Harmonia Mundi. She is a professor of music at Harvard University.

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