Singing Songs of Execution in Early Modern Italy

McIlvenna, Una (2016) Singing Songs of Execution in Early Modern Italy. In: Dall'Aglio, Stefano and Rospocher, Massimo and Richardson, Brian, eds. Voice and Writing in Early Modern Italian Politics, Religion, and Society. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4724-8531-1. E-ISBN 978-1-315-54789-3. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

This essay demonstrates that Italian execution ballads, while in many ways representative of a pan-European tradition of singing the news of crime and punishment, demonstrate a range of stylistic differences from their European counterparts that had significant consequences for the expression of emotion around public executions, and for the nature of the oral, sung performance of news in early modern Italy. Although Italian songsheets lacked the tune direction so common in other languages, the widespread availability of melodic formulas for set metrical forms means that a person without musical training could easily sing these songs. This has enormous repercussions for the dissemination of news in early modern Italy. If the uneducated masses were able to immediately sing these songs because they possessed a mental repertoire of melodies applicable to specific song-types, they would be able to more easily memorize their contents and re-perform them, thereby disseminating the information more widely. With their combination of news and entertainment (along with the occasional moral lesson) in an aurally accessible and memorable form, ballads were therefore an effective means of broadcasting and circulating the news in a period of low literacy rates.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DG Italy
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Una McIlvenna
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 20:04 UTC
Last Modified: 25 May 2017 10:46 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/54910 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
McIlvenna, Una: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4798-7880
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