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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.
- Department of History, English, Linguistics and Music - Professor of Music
- School of Music, Humanities and Media
- Centre for Music, Culture and Identity - Member