Sight and Sound: Music in 4th Century BCE Apulian Vase-Painting

Ikeshoji-Orlati, Veronica-Gaia, History of Art and Architecture - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Smith, Tyler Jo, Department of Art, University of Virginia

The present study investigates how music is represented in Apulian red-figure vase-painting of the late 5th and 4th centuries BCE. The project has two primary goals: first, to establish a corpus of scenes in which musical instruments and musicians are represented, and second, to consider how musical iconography may reflect contemporary performance culture. To answer the proposed research questions, an iconographic analysis of the vases is carried out by examining the gender, gesture, dress, and attributes of figures depicted with musical instruments, as well as the compositional patterns of musical scenes. In addition, literary, archaeological, and epigraphic evidence for the aural landscapes of 4th century BCE South Italy and Sicily are introduced in order to identify when and where visual and performance culture may have intersected.
Musical imagery is widespread in Apulian red-figure vase-painting, and 1,652 vases bearing representations of musical instruments are documented in the accompanying catalogue. The study begins with a brief introduction to Apulian vase-painting, followed by a survey of musical performance culture in ancient Greece and Magna Graecia. Subsequently, the analysis of the vases is divided thematically, beginning with a chapter on nuptial scenes and followed by a chapter each on music in Dionysian, mythological, and funerary imagery. In the conclusion, iconographic trends extending across the four themes are identified and selected visualizations of the dataset as a whole are discussed.
Evidence for Italiote aural or performance culture may be found in Apulian vase-painting representations of music, particularly in the depiction of chordophones such as the Apulian kithara. It is demonstrated, however, that musical instruments are predominantly depicted as non-performative attributes across all types of Apulian scenes and compositions. Since the majority of the patterns and trends identified in the present study of musical imagery correlate closely to shifts in Apulian red-figure vase-painting iconography as a whole, it is suggested that Apulian musical iconography primarily reflects a visual, not performative, tradition.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Apulian, Vase-Painting, Music, Iconography, Red-Figure Vases, South Italian, Greek Art
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