Browse By Day
Browse By Time
Browse By Person
Browse By Room
Browse By Session Type
Musicologists have long contributed to the interdisciplinary field of history by gathering and interpreting verbal evidence: archival documents, letters, manifestos, and the like. But the music itself continues to count as an epiphenomenon — pleasant to listen to, but largely irrelevant to the central tasks of the social historian.
Notated scores record historical evidence of a sort. Raymond Williams called the kinds of phenomena I investigate “structures of feeling”: patterns that shaped and that were also shaped by human societies. Along with Michel Foucault, Clifford Geertz, and Williams, I regard these as crucial aspects of lived experience, and I maintain that the specificity of music notation offers a superb avenue for recovering such elusive traces.
This lecture will demonstrate some ways in which music might give us a window on structures of feeling in the early seventeenth century. Taking the music seriously might raise new kinds of questions for fellow historians.