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Music Education in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Edited by Russell E. Murray, Jr., Susan Forscher Weiss, and Cynthia J. Cyrus

Publication Year: 2010

What were the methods and educational philosophies of music teachers in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? What did students study? What were the motivations of teacher and student? Contributors to this volume address these topics and other -- including gender, social status, and the role of the Church -- to better understand the identities of music teachers and students from 650 to 1650 in Western Europe. This volume provides an expansive view of the beginnings of music pedagogy, and shows how the act of learning was embedded in the broader context of the early Western art music tradition.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Publications of the Early Music Institute


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book results from a collaborative effort on the part of many individuals, all of whom, if they could, would thank the many people who provided them with help, encouragement, and the occasional helpful citation. While we cannot possibly acknowledge these people individually, we offer a general thanks on our contributors’ behalf. As for ourselves, we wish to acknowledge ...

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Introduction: Reading and Writing the Pedagogy of the Past

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pp. xi-xviii

This collection of essays addresses questions of how music was taught and learned in the past. The answers to these questions not only inform our understanding of musical literacy and musical learning in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but can help guide our investigations of the subject in other eras. in past scholarship, many of the most valuable observations on musical...

Perspective 1

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pp. 1

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1 Some Introductory Remarks on Musical Pedagogy

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pp. 3-22

It is a privilege and a pleasure to be asked to open a volume such as this; so I thought when I was invited to write this piece, and so I still think. But when I sat down to begin writing these remarks I realized, after some stale and unprofitable early attempts, that it might be something of a chore as well. Even before looking at the range of subject matter in the titles of this volume, I ...

Part 1: Medieval Pedagogy

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pp. 23

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2 Guido d’Arezzo, Ut queant laxis, and Musical Understanding

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pp. 25-36

Guido d’Arezzo (b. ca. 991/2; d. after 1033) is associated with the invention of a singing method that uses the syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la, a method we now call solmization.¹ In our modern application of this concept, we sing a new melody using the text syllables themselves. Is that what Guido intended? How did a singer in Guido’s time use this device? Were older methods of learning ...

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3 Some Thoughts on Music Pedagogy in the Carolingian Era

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pp. 37-51

Given that many musicologists hold academic positions, and given the academic culture we have all grown up in, pedagogy is a topic with which we are all familiar. Moreover, many of the primary sources we work with—especially if our research is oriented toward intellectual history—have some didactic purpose. One might therefore assume that an examination of music pedagogy ...

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4 Medieval Musical Education as Seen through Sources Outside the Realm of Music Theory

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pp. 52-62

As Dolores Pesce’s and Charles Atkinson’s contributions to this volume demonstrate, treatises on music theory and the other liberal arts, along with their commentary traditions, can tell us a great deal about the character of musical learning in the Middle Ages. For the most part, however, these texts do not offer much insight into the social context and institutional setting of...

Part 2: Renaissance Places of Learning

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pp. 63

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5 “Sang Schwylls” and “Music Schools”: Music Educationin Scotland, 1560–1650

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pp. 65-83

In August 1560 the Scottish Parliament abolished the Mass and adopted a Calvinist confession of faith. Reformation ideals had been circulating in parts of the kingdom since the fifteenth century, but heretics were dealt with swiftly.¹ It was not until 1559 that the Reformers’ efforts were galvanized with the return to Scotland of the formidable Calvinist, John Knox. In the midst of ...

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6 A Proper Musical Education for Antwerp’s Women

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pp. 84-125

In recent years, scholars have uncovered diverse—and contradictory—evidence about the social mores and attitudes that shaped women’s values and activities at various societal levels and geographic locales throughout Europe. The Low Countries, and especially the commercial center of Antwerp, provide a rich case study with which to trace changing values throughout the ...

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7 Juan Bermudo, Self-instruction, and the Amateur Instrumentalist

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pp. 126-137

The pedagogy of learning to play musical instruments embodies techniques, intellectual systems, and values that reveal a great deal about the cultural context in which instruction takes place. The advent of printing in the sixteenth century provided the opportunity for a new kind of music book and a new system of learning instrumental performance. Early in the history of music ...

Perspective 2

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pp. 139

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8 The Humanist and the Commonplace Book: Education in Practice

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pp. 141-157

At the core of learning, in early modern Europe, was a single complex set of practices. Scholars described it, often, in organic terms. Every student learned from Seneca that we “should follow . . . the example of the bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in.” ...

Part 3: Renaissance Materials and Contexts

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pp. 159

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9 Musical Commonplaces in the Renaissance

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pp. 161-192

Renaissance readers, writers, and speakers were well-trained in textual recycling, and one of their most powerful and pervasive tools was the “commonplace book”—a collection of notes from reading and other sources that the compiler might want to recall, and reuse, at a later date. While the structure and purpose of these volumes varied enormously, they were ...

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10 Music Education and the Conduct of Life in Early Modern England: A Review of the Sources

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pp. 193-206

So begins the dialogue that launches one of the most frequently invoked music treatises published in England, Thomas Morley’s A Plaine and Easie Intro-duction to Practicall Musicke.¹ In it, as every cultural historian of the period knows, Morley builds on the social discomfiture of Philomathes to justify the construction of a carefully guided course of instruction in the practice of mu-...

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11 Vandals, Students, or Scholars? Handwritten Clues in Renaissance Music Textbooks

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pp. 207-246

The renaissance saw a flurry of teaching materials in the form of handbooks or manuals on music.¹ a great majority of printed musical textbooks—particularly in areas where catholicism reigned—contained the ubiquitous image of the so-called guidonian hand. Hands, along with ladders, trees, and temples—among what we might label generically as memory theatres—were included ...

Part 4: Music Education in the Convent

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pp. 247

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12 The Educational Practices of Benedictine Nuns: A Salzburg Abbey Case Study

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pp. 249-261

The impact of post-Tridentine educational reforms on women’s convents has not yet been adequately assessed in the literature.¹ For education broadly speaking, and for the more specifically musical (or liturgical) education of the nuns who undertook the regular monastic duties of Office and Mass, there is not yet a comprehensive understanding of what women’s monastic educa-...

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13 Nun Musicians as Teachers and Students in Early Modern Spain

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pp. 262-283

Francisco Pacheco’s Libro de descripción de verdaderos retratos de ilustres y mem-orables varones (Seville, 1599) makes reference to two female musicians who, according to Pacheco, were students of Francisco de Peraza (1564–1598), the esteemed but short-lived organist of the Seville cathedral. Peraza’s disciples, Pacheco informs us, held organists’ posts at the best churches in Spain;...

Part 5: The Teacher

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pp. 285

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14 Isaac the Teacher: Pedagogy and Literacy in Florence, ca. 1488

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pp. 306-302

Twenty-five years ago, the late Howard Mayer Brown wrote about “emula-tion, competition, and homage” in Renaissance music.¹ I was surprised to recently rediscover that his opening pages were essentially about pedagogy; surprised, because I had remembered the article to be about compositional process and theories of imitation. But Brown’s first example of “emulation” ...

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15 Zacconi as Teacher: A Pedagogical Style in Words and Deeds

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pp. 303-323

The act of teaching is an ephemeral one, in many ways held for only a moment by teacher and student. While it can be witnessed, and its contents and methodology can be chronicled, in the end it evaporates with the passage of time. The challenge of recovering such an act from the past is thus a formidable one. And yet, as the studies in this volume ably demonstrate, we do have indirect...

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16 The Good Maestro: Pietro Cerone on the Pedagogical Relationship

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pp. 324-344

To scholars of the historical development of musical pedagogy, it is not necessary to apologize for the arcane fascination exerted by the music theory of a bygone age, nor for the forbidding dryness of its texts, nor for the obscurity of its authors. It is a difficult task to extract concrete information about pedagogy from this thicket of dense texts. Yet even within the erudite circle ...

Perspective 3

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pp. 345

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17 You Can Tell a Book by Its Cover: Reflections on Format in English Music “Theory”

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pp. 347-385

My purpose in this essay is to provide a lens through which to view the huge array of books from the Early Modern period that we call music “theory,” by investigating the small subset of titles that were published in England. I put scare quotes around “theory” because I want to problematize words that we use without giving them much thought...

List of Contributors

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pp. 387-390


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pp. 391-406

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004550
E-ISBN-10: 0253004551
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253354860

Page Count: 424
Illustrations: 41 b&w illus., 14 music exx.
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Publications of the Early Music Institute