Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Singing Lyric among Local Aristocratic Networks in the Aragonese-Ruled Kingdom of Naples: Aesthetic and Political Meaning in the Written Records of an Oral Practice
by Elmi, Elizabeth Grace, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019, 559; 13857081
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, I examine the predominantly oral practice of singing lyric poetry among members of the Neapolitan aristocracy in southern Italy during the late-fifteenth century. The tradition of singing Neapolitan lyric developed and gradually gained ascendancy in the Kingdom of Naples over the nearly sixty years of the Aragonese dynasty (1442–1501)—both in the capital city of Naples and at feudal courts throughout the Kingdom’s rural provinces. The surviving song repertory and its preservation in late-fifteenth-century musical and literary sources bear witness not only to these varied performance contexts, but also to the inherently communal aspect of the tradition as a whole.

Combining approaches in musicology, ethnomusicology, and literary theory, I question the fixity and purpose of this written repertory in preserving a fluid and dynamic oral practice that flourished as the artistic expression of a subjugated class—Neapolitan nobles and intellectuals living under Aragonese rule. The manuscript collections, historical descriptions, theoretical and literary works that preserve and transmit the records of this oral practice demonstrate how writing was used to record, recollect, recreate, and ultimately memorialize a communal practice of song-making—lending value and legitimacy to the Kingdom’s local aristocracy—during a tumultuous time in the history of southern Italy. Some copies, perhaps preserved on less durable media, have likely been lost while others preserve traces of orality with varying levels of fixity and transformation. How and why these records were created and preserved is the central question that this study seeks to answer.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ossi, Massimo
Commitee: Di Bacco, Giuliano, Storey, H. Wayne, Zanovello, Giovanni
School: Indiana University
Department: Musicology
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music history, Italian literature
Keywords: Fifteenth century, Italian song, Kingdom of Naples, Manuscript studies, Orality and literacy
Publication Number: 13857081
ISBN: 978-1-392-06537-2
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