"Equal to All Alike": A Cultural History of the Viol Consort in England, c.1550-1675

Ludwig, Loren Monte, Department of Music, University of Virginia
Holsinger, Bruce, Department of Music, University of Virginia

"Equal to All Alike": A Cultural History ofthe Viol Consort in England, c.1550- 1675 explores the socially interactive nature of amateur chamber music for viol consort, a repertory of ensemble music that flourished in 16thand 17th-century English aristocratic circles. A critical reevaluation of surviving archival and musical materials from the period reveals that musical relationships between polyphonic parts were easily and readily transposed onto the social relationships between the living breathing musicians who performed them. This dissertation is about those relationships - how composers of consort music used polyphonic means to choreograph social interactions, how early modern enthusiasts might have understood such experiences of musical community, and what cultural historians can learn about Renaissance English culture from the consort tradition. Close readings of consort music by William Byrd, ]ohn Dowland, Richard Farrant, Thomas Greaves, Benjamin Rogers, ]ohn Ward, William Lawes, and William White ground discussions of the ways that consort music, as a communal activity and musical tradition, participated in early modern understandings of the relationship between language and music, the nature and propriety of the passions, and the negotiation of social intimacy. Each of four chapters locates the consort tradition within a particular affective domain, seeking to understand how consort playing engaged and shaped communal emotional experience. "Melancholy, Mourning, and Mimesis: The Viol Consort and English Sadness" positions the ensemble as a site of communal, ritual iii behavior that registers the two related terms of Elizabethan "sadness": melancholy m and mourning. These things were never made for words': ‘Instrumental' Wit and Performative Self-Fashioning in the Consort Music of William Lawes," theorizes the operation of "wit" and musical rhetoric in the fantasias of William Lawes (1602- 1645). "'In Voice, in Heart, in Hand Agree': Consort Music, Devotion, and ‘Liturgical Habitus'" documents consort music's stylistic and cultural bases in Catholic liturgical music and charts its adaptation to new Protestant devotional practices and religious m values. Musique fitting for the place': The (Homo)Eroticism of the Viol Consort" addresses consort music's capacity to stage interactions of pleasure, intimacy, and power among its performers in the context of early modern conceptions of male homosociality and homoeroticism.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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