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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Silent Music and Devotional Practice in a Book of Hours

13th January 2015, 14:00, Concert Hall, Music Department, Dr Tim Shephard, Sheffield University

This seminar will present the first fruits of the Leverhulme-funded three-year project 'Music in the Art of Renaissance Italy, ca.1420-1540', in the form of a case study of the representation of music in a 15th-century manuscript book designed to support private devotional practices. The lavishly decorated Gualenghi d'Este Hours features swirling scrolls of music notation as a decorative element on several openings, and the act of singing on one. Meanwhile, the texts presented in the book, to be recited by its pious devotee, are not presented in musical settings, even though many of them would have been familiar to the owner as plainchants. A new investigation of the role of 'silent' music in 15th century devotional practice will help us to understand why this book prompts its user to think of devotional texts as music, but not actually to sing them.

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