Musical Voices of Early Modern Women Many-Headed Melodies
Recent scholarship has offered a veritable landslide of studies about early modern women, illuminating them as writers, thinkers, midwives, mothers, in convents, at home, and as rulers. Musical Voices of Early Modern Women adds to the mix of early modern studies a volume that correlates women's musical endeavors to their lives, addressing early modern women's musical activities across a broad spectrum of cultural events and settings. The volume takes as its premise the notion that while women may have been squeezed to participate in music through narrower doors than their male peers, they nevertheless did so with enthusiasm, diligence, and success. They were there in many ways, but as women's lives were fundamentally different and more private than men's were, their strategies, tools, and appearances were sometimes also different and thus often unstudied in an historical discipline that primarily evaluated men's productivity. Given that, many of these stories will not necessarily embrace a standard musical repertoire, even as they seek to expand canonical borders. The contributors to this collection explore the possibility of a larger musical culture which included women as well as men, by examining early modern women in "many-headed ways" through the lens of musical production. They look at how women composed, assuming that compositional gender strategies may have been used differently when applied through her vision; how women were composed, or represented and interpreted through music in a larger cultural context, and how her presence in that dialog situated her in social space. Contributors also trace how women found music as a means for communicating, for establishing intellectual power, for generating musical tastes, and for enhancing the quality of their lives. Some women performed publicly, and thus some articles examine how this impacted on their lives and families. Other contributors inquire about the economics of music and women, and how in different situations some women may have been financially empowered or even in control of their own money-making. This collection offers a glimpse at women from home, stage, work, and convent, from many classes and from culturally diverse countries - including France, Spain, Italy, England, Austria, Russia, and Mexico - and imagines a musical history centered in the realities of those lives.
'An invaluable contribution to our understanding of musical women and women's music in the early modern period ... takes us well beyond the studies of 'exceptional' female composers that have managed to infiltrate the canon, combining rigorous scholarship with a keen understanding of the political and social ambiguities faced by women in the early modern period with an admirable breadth of focus. Musicologists, cultural historians, and their students will delight in these nuanced studies of courtesans, nuns, noble patrons, opera singers, and cross-dressed singer-actors.' Wendy Heller, Princeton University, author of Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice 'This fascinating collection looks at the special and often intimate musical culture of renaissance and baroque women...The essays are detailed and enthusiastic--evidence of the contributors' dedication--and the footnotes, which stand in for a bibliography, will lead readers to many compelling sources. This is a major contribution to musicology and women's studies...Highly recommended.' Choice 'In sum, the book provides additional hard, scholarly knowledge about under-sung women musicians in the past, and raises important and provocative ideological questions about the kinds of meanings derived not just from the words of songs or texts, but from the gender-based provenance of their production... This is a solid contribution to the debate... it should certainly be in every library.' Early Music Review '... [an] excellent collection of essays... This addition to Ashgate's Women and Gender in the Early Modern World series fills in important gaps in our knowledge.' Renaissance Quarterly ’This collection makes an important contribution to the recuperation of women's musical activities and texts, and to revisioning music history and theory within 'a larger musical context which included women' as well as men... Readers will find fascinating stories, innovative analyses, and co