In the second half of the Cinquecento, various elements prefigure the gradual emergence in the intangible and incorporeal world of the Renaissance madrigal of a visual culture, founded in such manifestations as the glance and the concrete image. The bodies and faces of the women and men who sing became objects of attention. Ekphrastic texts, letters, poetry, and commentaries, in describing that “modo di cantare molto diverso [very different manner of singing]” noted in 1575 by Vincenzo Giustiniani (Discorso sopra la musica de’ suoi tempi), underscore with increasing frequency and specificity the synergy between vocal expression, gesture, and physiognomy. An unnamed music lover exclaims in a madrigal “per cantatrice [to a singer]” set by Giaches Wert in 1595, “Ch’all’udir, ch’al mirar duo sensi appago [For in hearing and seeing I satisfy two senses].” Somewhat later, after the appearance of early opera, the Florentine Antonio Brandi’s manner of singing is described as “Co’ gesti e co’ movimenti par che v’imprima nell’animo un non so che davantaggio [With gesture and movement he impresses on the soul a powerful ‘je ne sais quoi’]” (1608). The ‘je ne sais quoi’ as an aesthetic quality expressed in music, denotes and gives legitimacy to the act of performance as a non-neutral element that, insinuating itself between the written text and its audience, changes both its conception and its reception. The vexata quaestio of the relationship between closed and open text in music, and of the coexistence of the compositional act with expressive performance and active audience reception, then, can be observed from documents that highlight the corporeal and the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of performance, as well as the points of view of different agents — composers (reluctant or complicit), interpreters, and spectators. [...]

'Ch'all'udir, ch'al mirar duo sensi appago': the 'je ne sais quoi' in the production and reception of music in the 16th and 17th centuries

BESUTTI, Paola
2013

Abstract

In the second half of the Cinquecento, various elements prefigure the gradual emergence in the intangible and incorporeal world of the Renaissance madrigal of a visual culture, founded in such manifestations as the glance and the concrete image. The bodies and faces of the women and men who sing became objects of attention. Ekphrastic texts, letters, poetry, and commentaries, in describing that “modo di cantare molto diverso [very different manner of singing]” noted in 1575 by Vincenzo Giustiniani (Discorso sopra la musica de’ suoi tempi), underscore with increasing frequency and specificity the synergy between vocal expression, gesture, and physiognomy. An unnamed music lover exclaims in a madrigal “per cantatrice [to a singer]” set by Giaches Wert in 1595, “Ch’all’udir, ch’al mirar duo sensi appago [For in hearing and seeing I satisfy two senses].” Somewhat later, after the appearance of early opera, the Florentine Antonio Brandi’s manner of singing is described as “Co’ gesti e co’ movimenti par che v’imprima nell’animo un non so che davantaggio [With gesture and movement he impresses on the soul a powerful ‘je ne sais quoi’]” (1608). The ‘je ne sais quoi’ as an aesthetic quality expressed in music, denotes and gives legitimacy to the act of performance as a non-neutral element that, insinuating itself between the written text and its audience, changes both its conception and its reception. The vexata quaestio of the relationship between closed and open text in music, and of the coexistence of the compositional act with expressive performance and active audience reception, then, can be observed from documents that highlight the corporeal and the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of performance, as well as the points of view of different agents — composers (reluctant or complicit), interpreters, and spectators. [...]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11575/5357
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