Towards an interdisciplinary sound:

The Italian imitative and interdisciplinary musical ethos of the 16th century

Tímea Nagy (speaker), recorder, Geneva University of Music (Switzerland)
Nuno Atalaia (speaker), recorder, Leiden Universiteit (Netherlands)
Julie Stalder, Gamba and Lirone, Seconda Prat!ca (Netherlands)
Sofia Pedro, Soprano, Seconda Prat!ca (Netherlands)
Jonatan Alvarado, Tenor and Lute, Seconda Prat!ca (Netherlands)
João Luís Veloso Paixão, Baritone and Declamation, Seconda Prat!ca (Netherlands)

Session introduction
The creation and experience of art in Late Renaissance Italy was a multi-faceted and interdisciplinary experience. Artistic discourse followed the Ut Pictura Poesis doctrine, leading to an exchange between disciplines as the fields of architecture, painting, poetry mathematics, rhetoric and philosophy began to blend with each other. Musicians were lively participants in this semiotic play of artistic identities leading to the rise of a new performance ethos inspired in the ideals of liberal education. Each discipline and artist would, like a luthier, add his own coat of varnish to the identity of the arts of his time.

In no case is this more apparent than in Silvestro Ganassi’s La Fontegara (1535), the very first treatise fully dedicated to the performance and functioning of a musical instrument—the recorder. A musician, writer, engraver, and painter, Ganassi created the prototype for the instrumental tutor genre and represented a turning point in the history of instrumental music. In this treatise we see how an instrumentalist becomes a researcher of his own craft, reflecting on his own practice and that of his colleagues, creating a wholly new vocabulary with which to transmit his taste and knowledge. In creating this work, Ganassi allows us a brief glimpse into an interdisciplinary experience of musical performance and enjoyment, which we see reflected in many of the period’s documents. This unique musical experience has mostly become lost to a modern community of musicians and listeners lacking the subtle cultural context which informed the performance practice of the time.

But what are musicians to do when confronted with this fragmented semiotic reality of music? How can we restore and revitalize this interdisciplinarity of sound? What process allows us to fill the lacunas that separate us from the language and thought of that time? What parts do performance and research play in an attempt at a restoration? And finally, how do they imitate each other?

This double presentation aims to shed light on different aspects of interdisciplinarity in musical discourse and raises questions about the role played by imitation as a core concept in the context of Italian music of the late Renaissance. Two presentations on different facets of musical interdisciplinarity will be combined in a workshop-recital, which will create a multi-faceted listening and viewing experience of music and its sister arts. In this way, performance becomes a new brush in the research process, as performers and researchers add new layers of varnish to a common cultural heritage. An interdisciplinary approach may become a new paradigm for historical performance, allowing for renewed identities and frames for the imagination and the arts.