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Images Are Worth as Much as Words: Memory Aids in Pre-Reformation Music

Thu, March 26, 10:15 to 11:45am, Hauptgebäude, Unter den Linden 6, Floor: Second Floor, 3059


As part of an ongoing study of iconography associated with memory and learning in Renaissance sources, this paper focuses on music books written by Europeans who very likely came under the influence of non-Westerners. The images, particularly hands and circles inscribed with symbols, were pedagogical aids to understanding and memorizing complex concepts. Particular attention is paid to treatises by Spaniards, such as Fernand Estevan and Bartolomeo Ramos, two who strayed from accepted Guidonian musical theories. The treatises, written in Spain and in Italy reveal reliance on materials and ideas borrowed from various sources including the Englishmen Robert Kilwardby and Robert Caperon, who with other English writers borrowed from Arabic and Persian musical texts, particularly those by Al Farabi, Avicenna, and Zaryab. The controversies created by the theories were part of ongoing discourse in and around the university of Bologna in the second half of the 15th century.