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Title: Giovanni d'Avella's Regole di Musica: A Defense of Gesualdo's Chromaticism
Authors: Levenberg, Jeff
Advisors: Heller, Wendy
Contributors: Music Department
Subjects: Music
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation provides the first critical reading and reassessment of Giovanni d'Avella's Regole di musica. Written by a Neapolitan church music director from ca. 1610-1640, this treatise singularly bears witness to the censorship of Carlo Gesualdo's Responsoria and a public demonstration in its defense. In contradistinction to all hypotheses about Gesualdo's infamous chromaticism, d'Avella's treatise reveals that Gesualdo employed out-of-tune sonorities as text-setting devices. Following d'Avella's cue, new parallels are drawn between Gesualdo's Tenebrae and the physico-theological reenactments of the crucifixion that Giambattista Marino performed with out-of-tune musical instruments in his contentious Holy Week orations, Le dicerie sacre. Harmonic, rhythmic, and text-underlay analyses of d'Avella's musical citations indicate that Gesualdo endeavored to compose his Responsoria in accordance with post-Tridentine strictures and, moreover, Gesualdo assuredly did not stage his own tormented life in his musical telling of the Passion of Christ by means of extreme chromaticism. When placed within the context of the long sixteenth-century, Gesualdo's out-of-tune sonorities in fact follow a long line of precedents in spiritual madrigals--even Palestrina's 1581 book, long regarded as archetypal of Tridentine ideals. Further historical-theoretical concordances to this out-of-tune practice are found in El melopeo y maestro of Pietro Cerone, L'Imperfettioni della moderna musica of Artusi, and the Musurgia universalis of Athanasius Kircher. D'Avella's polemical defense of Gesualdo was pedantic and invoked the sophisticated mathematical musical theories of the classical authority Boethius to supply incontrovertible reasons for Gesualdo's chromaticism. His precisely indicated musical tunings and notations vastly differ from the theoretical music of Nicola Vicentino, whose imposing Ferrarese treatise, L'Antica musica ridotta alla moderna prattica, instigated many humanist yet, as I argue, extraneous ancient Greek explanations for Gesualdo's harmonies. However, unexpected plagiarisms of the treatise on the Guidonian gamut in Francesco de Brugis' Graduale ultimately undermine d'Avella's theoretical credentials and pedagogical prescriptions for Gesualdo's chromaticism. The insurmountable problems that d'Avella's neo-Boethian and Guidonian theories posed his exceedingly few readers are gleaned from Giovanni Francesco Beccatelli's scathing Annotazioni upon the Regole and, above all, Charles Burney's "Gesualdo Controversy." Beyond reconsidering d'Avella's Regole, the dissertation calls for new performance practices of Gesualdo's chromatic music.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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