Mannerism in Italian Music and Culture, 1530-1630

Mannerism in Italian Music and Culture, 1530-1630

Mannerism in Italian Music and Culture, 1530-1630

Mannerism in Italian Music and Culture, 1530-1630

Synopsis

Maniates maintains that Mannerism was not just a transitional phase between the Renaissance and Baroque eras but a distinct cultural period in which music as well as other arts participated. In a detailed analysis of the music, the author traces mannerist elements in theory, composition, and performance. She focuses on the polyphonic madrigal as the medium through which the major style changes were effected and traces the development of secular music from its most subtle to its most blatant manneristic forms.

Originally published in 1979.

Excerpt

The basic thesis of this study posits the viability of Mannerism as a historic-stylistic concept that arises out of musical patterns evident in the practice of and thought about music between the years 1530 and 1630. An understanding of this concept, in both its broadest and its most narrow relations to musical activity during these years, can help to clarify for us the fundamental changes in musical style that took place between the Renaissance and the Baroque. Indeed, the very notion of "style," or maniera, with all its assumptions and problems, lies at the core of mannerist attitudes in the sixteenth century, regardless of whether we assess any of these attitudes to be instinctive or conscious, and regardless of whether we judge the musical results to be successful or misguided in terms of absolute artistic merit. The reader will find that, upon occasion, I inject value judgments of the latter kind. But for the most part, the narrative is restricted to interpreting the value judgments of artists and critics of the time, and for this reason, I try to keep the discussion within the terms of reference used by sixteenth-century thinkers.

Style and style criticism are the primary concerns of musicology. Musical style entails something more than the evolution of musical techniques, even though style criticism cannot be conducted without detailed investigation of such matters. Musical style is the testament of a living art that molds and in its turn bears the imprint of individual personalities and cultural groups. Therefore, style criticism takes its place in the history of the human spirit, the history of ideas and of culture. In my view, Mannerism in the sixteenth century forms an important, but inadequately . . .

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