Musical exchanges, 1100-1650: The circulation of ancient music in Europe and overseas in Iberian or related sources

PTDC / EAT-MMU / 105624/2008, 2010-2012 (conclusion extended until May 2013)

Total financing (FCT): € 150,000.
2010: $ 50,760
2011: € 70,340
2012: € 28 900

Research team: Manuel Pedro Ferreira (coordinator), Bernadette Nelson, João Pedro d’Alvarenga, Elena Sorban, Ivan Moody, Pedro Sousa Silva, Elsa De Luca, Diogo Alte da Veiga, Rui Araújo, Mara Fortu, Adriana Latino, Tess Knighton , Katherine Helsen, Owen Rees, Leandra Scappaticci.
Grantees: Ana Delfina Carvalho, Carla Crespo, Zuelma Chaves.


The overall objective of the project is to obtain a better understanding of the different forms of integration and participation of Portugal and its cultural and spiritual partners in the dynamics of European culture through music, ceremonial and liturgy, from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Modern Era . One of the most important issues concerning music in Portugal is the extent of its dependence or, on the contrary, its independence from other European traditions.

The project is based on the results of previous work that, although incomplete, concerns the identification and digital reproduction of music manuscripts, from the Middle Ages to c. 1600. The recovery and the beginning of the systematic study of thousands of fragments and complete volumes of cantochão dated since c. 1100, allows to glimpse the modalities of reception in Portugal of singing traditions from important monastic houses and regions of France – Cluny, Claraval and Aquitaine.

One aspect of the investigation is to track patterns of dissemination of melodic traditions and locate them in a broader context, which requires the continuation of fieldwork and the construction of an indexed and searchable database, accessible through an international network. One of the most significant collections of medieval music dating from the 19th century. XIII, the Cantigas de Santa Maria de Afonso X, also reveals links to melodic and rhythmic traditions from France and the western Mediterranean.

The recently created CSM database will serve to ascertain these data. Certain collections of international repertoire imported late to Portugal, such as Ms Porto 714, testify to the musical exchange in northern Italy. Isolated polyphony fragments, dating from the 19th century. XV, indicate the import of music associated with the courts and the prestigious musical centers of northern Europe and Spain.

The extensive set of polyphony sources copied in the Monastery of Sta. Cruz de Coimbra (also included in the database) reveals the paradigms of composition in the period c. 1520-c. 1620, which in the oldest examples seem to adopt, now the characteristics associated with schools in northern Europe of c. 1500, now the characteristics of the so-called “Repertoire of the Spanish court”, which circulated in Portugal in the first half of the century. XVI. An important composer of Portuguese origin, active in Spain and Portugal in this period, was Pedro de Escobar, whose music is an example of the dialogue of musical styles. The publication of the key anthology by G. de Baena (1540) will constitute another important contribution to document this international dialogue.

The normative and ceremonial texts provide an important perspective on the performance and the compositional structure, both of polyphonic works and of cantochão. The historical documentation provides an understanding of the functioning of institutions such as the great cathedrals (Évora, Braga, Coimbra, Lisbon), the monasteries (Sta. Cruz, Alcobaça) and the ducal and royal chapels. The close relationship between the cathedral of Elvas and that of Badajoz will provide a significant case study of Portugal-Spain musical relations. An important part of the project will focus on aspects of the repertoire and ceremonial uses in the royal chapel, from D. Duarte to D. João IV (c. 1433-c. 1656), using the documentation only partially explored in the previous historiography . We can consider this institution as a paradigm for the reception of international repertoires, which later integrated Portuguese musical traditions.

European music traveled to Latin America and India through Portugal and the testimonies of this intercontinental circulation will also be the subject of systematic study. In summary, the results of the project will provide a quantitative and, above all, qualitative leap in our contextualized understanding of musical culture in Portugal.

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