Things that Sing: Music and the Material Cultures of Medieval Romance, 1150-1350 - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Things that Sing: Music and the Material Cultures of Medieval Romance, 1150-1350

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Medieval Work In Progress
Medieval Work-in-Progress seminar

Things that Sing: Music and the Material Cultures of Medieval Romance, 1150-1350

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

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Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 12615, folio 1r. Credit: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France

  • Wednesday 25 May 2016
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

    Research Forum seminar room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

Speaker:

  • Prof. Emma Dillon - King's College London

Organised by

  • Dr Tom Nickson - The Courtauld Institute of Art

While notated manuscript sources are the more usual focus of enquiry into medieval song culture, my research proposes an alternative source of sonic record: the objects with which song cohabited in courtly environments of performance. My presentation explores the vernacular song repertories that circulated in Northern France c. 1150-1350 (and especially those associated with the troubadours and trouvères), and drawing on approaches from musicology, sound studies and art history, explores musical and material interactions. How can song history inform the understanding of objects and vice versa? Can a precious fabric or luxurious belt be understood as song-like, and can a song’s value or prestige be informed by the broader economies of courtly ‘joyaulx’ or inventoried treasures? My presentation will open up these questions in the context of an ivory casket, a chansonnier, a lyric-interpolated romance, and a ring, and will consider how these items interact and speak across generic and disciplinary categories.


Emma Dillon is Professor of Music at King’s College London. Her research focuses on European musical culture from the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. Her work ranges widely in terms of repertories, sources, and methodological approach, and broadly speaking falls at the intersection of musicology, sound studies, medieval studies, and the history of material texts. She is the author of Medieval Music-Making and the Roman de Fauvel (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and The Sense of Sound: Musical Meaning in France, 1260-1330 (Oxford University Press in 2012). She is currently working on a series of essays and papers exploring the evidence for musical feeling and the emotional effects of sound in the later Middle Ages, and issues of musical value.

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