Singing the Republic: Polychoral Culture at San Marco in Venice (1550-1615)

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During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Venetian society and politics could be considered as a "polychoral culture." The imagination of the republic rested upon a shared set of social attitudes and beliefs. The political structure included several social groups that functioned as identifiable entities; republican ideologies construed them together as parts of a single harmonious whole. Venice furthermore employed notions of the republic to bolster political and religious independence, in particular from Rome. As is well known, music often contributes to the production and transmission of ideology, and polychoral music in Venice was no exception. Multi-choir music often ... continued below

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viii, 262 p.

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Yoshioka, Masataka December 2010.

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  • Yoshioka, Masataka

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During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Venetian society and politics could be considered as a "polychoral culture." The imagination of the republic rested upon a shared set of social attitudes and beliefs. The political structure included several social groups that functioned as identifiable entities; republican ideologies construed them together as parts of a single harmonious whole. Venice furthermore employed notions of the republic to bolster political and religious independence, in particular from Rome. As is well known, music often contributes to the production and transmission of ideology, and polychoral music in Venice was no exception. Multi-choir music often accompanied religious and civic celebrations in the basilica of San Marco and elsewhere that emphasized the so-called "myth of Venice," the city's complex of religious beliefs and historical heritage. These myths were shared among Venetians and transformed through annual rituals into communal knowledge of the republic. Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli and other Venetian composers wrote polychoral pieces that were structurally homologous with the imagination of the republic. Through its internal structures, polychoral music projected the local ideology of group harmony. Pieces used interaction among hierarchical choirs - their alternation in dialogue and repetition - as rhetorical means, first to create the impression of collaboration or competition, and then to bring them together at the end, as if resolving discord into concord. Furthermore, Giovanni Gabrieli experimented with the integration of instrumental choirs and recitative within predominantly vocal multi-choir textures, elevating music to the category of a theatrical religious spectacle. He also adopted and developed richer tonal procedures belonging to the so-called "hexachordal tonality" to underscore rhetorical text delivery. If multi-choir music remained the central religious repertory of the city, contemporary single-choir pieces favored typical polychoral procedures that involve dialogue and repetition among vocal subgroups. Both repertories adopted clear rhetorical means of emphasizing religious notions of particular political significance at the surface level. Venetian music performed in religious and civic rituals worked in conjunction with the myth of the city to project and reinforce the imagination of the republic, promoting a glorious image of greatness for La Serenissima.

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viii, 262 p.

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  • December 2010

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Yoshioka, Masataka. Singing the Republic: Polychoral Culture at San Marco in Venice (1550-1615), dissertation, December 2010; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc33220/: accessed August 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .