Aural Collecting

Andrew Dell'Antonio

in Listening as Spiritual Practice in Early Modern Italy

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780520269293
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950108 | DOI:
Aural Collecting

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  • Musicology and Music History


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By collecting artistic and natural artifacts and wonders, the early modern cultivated individual sought to achieve connoisseurship through the careful balance of receptivity to the marvelous and repeated, careful parsing and categorizations of items. This chapter studies one aspect of the early modern collection, which is the musical scores and instruments, collected along side other artifacts. The collecting of musical scores appears to have been more common in the later seventeenth century, while the sponsorship of musical performances was crucial in the spread of new music through the Italian courts a half century earlier. The primary means of “collecting” and thus “recollecting” sonic experiences was to place them in memory and find appropriate strategies to revisit the memorized events and the feelings they might have evoked, and in the process to establish categories whereby those musical experiences might be parsed and then “displayed” through discussion with fellow virtuosi. Seventeenth-century manuscripts tend to reflect a variety of repertories and composers and may have functioned as visual aids to the recollection of musical experiences, allowing the connoisseur to retrace in his memory the events and/or emotions that formed part of his “aural collection.”

Keywords: aural collection; sonic experiences; virtuosi; seventeenth-century manuscripts; connoisseur; musical scores

Chapter.  13215 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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