Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Biagio Marini and the meanings of violin music in the early seicento
by Cypess, Rebecca Schaefer, Ph.D., Yale University, 2008, 347; 3317261
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores ways in which instrumental music of early seventeenth-century Italy gained coherence and meaning through reference to vocal genres. The violin, which had existed in some form since the early sixteenth century, was just gaining acceptance as a “high-class” instrument, in part because of its capacity to imitate the human voice and the new vocal idiom in vogue during the first decades of the seicento . In an environment that esteemed texted music above all, violin music made its way by alluding to vocal genres.

Biagio Marini was a violinist and composer whose surviving oeuvre , published between 1617 and 1655, encompasses a wide variety of genres and styles. His instrumental music offers a picture of compositional practice and the construction of meaning in untexted music. In this dissertation, I analyze five of his books containing instrumental music from different perspectives; by placing these books and compositions in the context of contemporaneous vocal music, I suggest connections between vocal and instrumental genres, and I offer interpretations of meaning in music.

Part I describes two cases in which Marini seems to challenge the conventions of vocal music. In his Affetti musicali (1617) he suggests that instrumental music may convey emotional content as well as vocal music, and that the violin may now stand alongside the human voice as suitable for use by gentlemen-amateurs. The Madrigali et symfonie (1618) appears to present a means of organizing cyclic instrumental books in a manner uniquely suited to untexted music.

Part II presents cases in which Marini seems to adopt conventions of vocal music, and transform them to suit the violin. His Romanesca for solo violin (1620) draws upon vocal settings of the romanesca progression in its adoption of a narrative framework. In his Sonate (1626) Marini translates the vocal stile rappresentativo into an instrumental idiom, both in musical syntax and in staging and role-play. His final extant publication, the Sonate da chiesa e da camera (1655) makes use of vocal topoi to define sacred and secular styles.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rosand, Ellen
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 69/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Italy, Marini, Biagio, Meaning in instrumental music, Meanings, Music and meaning, Seventeenth century, Seventeenth-century music, Stile moderno, Violin, Violin music
Publication Number: 3317261
ISBN: 9780549653028
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