The performance of polyphony in early 16th-century Italian convents

Laurie Stras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores evidence for polyphonic music in Italian convents during the first half of the 16th century. It presents a summary of documentary evidence relating to conventual music in the pre-Tridentine era, alongside practical evidence from contemporary treatises regarding methods by which convent choirs could develop a polyphonic repertory from existing music. It revisits claims for mandatory downwards transposition of music written in high clefs, and considers two manuscripts - Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, Ms.761 and Brussels Bibliothèque du Conservatoire Royal de Musique, Ms.27766 - in the light of this investigation. The article aims to open up a conversation regarding the status of convent polyphony in the early 16th century, shedding new light on its importance and advocating a fresh approach to the possibility of female performance for the Franco-Flemish repertory of the great papal and ducal chapels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-215
Number of pages21
JournalEarly Music
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


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  • Musica Secreta in Triora 2019

    Laurie Stras (Organiser)

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