In the 1540s the great Venetian publishing houses of Scotto and Gardano issued a cluster of publications whose title pages advertised a particular vocal disposition—“voci pari,” or equal voices. Analysis of the motets, their texts, and their musical treatment reveals an intimate connection with convents and conventual worship. In this article I describe the relationships between the books, speculate as to how convents might have used the motets, and consider what the works can tell us about performance practice in female-voice ensembles. Drawing on aspects of the books’ publication history, the liturgical function of certain texts, and musical relationships with works composed at the Ferrarese court, I propose a candidate for the composer of at least some of the anonymous pieces in Musica quinque vocum: motteta materna lingua vocata (RISM 15432): Suor Leonora d'Este (1515–75), daughter of Duke Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia and the abbess of the convent of Corpus Domini in Ferrara.
- Department of History, English, Linguistics and Music - Professor of Music
- School of Music, Humanities and Media
- Centre for Music, Culture and Identity - Member