Faith, Hearing, and the Power of Music in Hispanic Villancicos, 1600-1700


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




In seventeenth-century Mexico and Spain, many villancicos (the predominant genre of vocal sacred music with vernacular words) used music to represent itself, with topics of singing, dancing, and music of the spheres. This study draws on such pieces as sources for understanding early modern Catholic beliefs about music. The central question concerns music’s role in the relationship between hearing and faith, particularly as used by the Spanish church and state. The project traces lineages of “metamusical” villancicos through networks of interrelated musicians, balancing a global perspective with a case study of the Cathedral of Puebla de los Ángeles in modern Mexico.