PIT - Fourteenth-century Italian Polyphony

PIT - Polifonia Italiana Trecentesca

PIT - Fourteenth-century Italian Polyphony

The great blossoming of polyphony was in the past called, by convention, Ars nova, though the term has been contested by some musicologists. From Pirrotta onward, however, others have consciously claimed the term for the deep cultural harmony it has with the long-lasting and widespread concept of Stil novo, the awareness stemming from a radical break with the past, and the fresh, new path on which it embarked.

The musical heritage of fourteenth-century Italy is vast, and still has not been as intensively and systematically studied as that of France (which is dominated by the central and complex figure of Machaut, with a strong tradition of interdisciplinary studies dedicated to him). Over the last fifty years, however, remarkable results have been achieved through research focusing on the study of the specificities of its notation, counterpoint, styles, and forms; certain important themes have been given particular attention - codicology, mensuralism, history of the musical forms, survey of the repertory, interconnections between the Italian and French traditions, renewed analyses of the historical and cultural context, identification of production centres and the routes linking them, and exegesis of poetic texts set to music by the fourteenth-century polyphonists.

Some areas have had less attention, such as the interrelations between the manuscript tradition of texts and that of music, the phenomena of musical and verbal intertextuality, the history of poetic genres and their function, the problem of authorship of the texts, and musical analysis of the repertory.

What still appears to be fairly discontinuous and marginal is the interest in the individual musicians and the particularities of the tradition of each one's corpus. This would logically lead to a push for new textual interpretations, in line with the levels of today's philology which would involve enrichment of perspectives and methodologies in an interdisciplinary context. A large part of the great repertory of fourteenth-century Italian secular vocal polyphony (which roughly spans from the Rossi Codex to the age of Zacara da Teramo and Matteo da Perugia) is only accessible through editions which have become obsolete. In these editions the poetic texts, sometimes of a remarkable level, have been treated in a rather approximative way, appear metrically and linguistically incorrect and often do not make sense; the interpretation of these musical texts reflects the state of research and ecdotic methods of half a century ago, and this has produced disjointed results.

The project Polifonia italiana trecentesca (PIT), which benefits from close collaboration with the Dipartimento di Musicologia e Beni Culturali di Cremona (Università di Pavia), aims to tackle this lacuna, with its primary objective being the publication of a new edition - a critical edition in the modern and scientific sense - on the repertory of Italian Ars nova. Alongside this, complementary research will be carried out, which will include study of the genres and the musical and poetic language. The team is composed of musicologists and literary scholars using innovative interdisciplinary methods. The project has been underway since 2009.

contatto Sofia Lannutti mariasofia.lannutti@unifi.it

Research group

Antonio Calvia, Maria Caraci Vela, Davide Checchi, Michele Epifani, Maria Sofia Lannutti, Daniele Sabaino, Rodobaldo Tibaldi