The Rhetoric of Musical Reform: Plainchant, Solo Song, Affect, and Ethics in Early Modern Rome


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Plainchant and monody (or solo song), two repertoires that have typically been viewed as distinct in histories of music, were in fact closely related to one another in the late sixteenth century. Examination of post-Tridentine plainchant reforms, early solo songs and operatic recitative, as well as humanistic writings reveals that reform-minded clerics and secular humanists came into personal contact with one another, read many of the same texts, and grappled with similar musical issues. A comparison of chant reforms by Vatican cleric Giovanni Guidetti with late sixteenth-century monodies by Emilio de’ Cavalieri demonstrates the many stylistic and cultural connections including the importance of speech-like rhythms as a means of affective and ethical transformation.