UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Musical borrowing in renaissance Florence : carnival songs and contrafacture Haug, Emily


Carnival songs form a genre of music that flowered during the Renaissance era in Florence. Stimulated by elite patronage, these popular tunes served to enhance festivities and street celebrations during the Carnival season. Due to the popular contexts within which these songs were performed, they were accessible by all class levels, and thereby served to communicate changing social and political values through the vernacular Italian poetic texts. Perhaps the most prominent feature of this secular genre is that the melodies of the carnival songs were borrowed by poets in the employ of the religious institutions in Florence, both churches and confraternities, as a method of memorizing hymns. Throughout the sixteenth century, the application of this method, defined as contrafacture, grew to become a tool to communicate spiritual and political beliefs, where connections can be drawn between the moral teachings of both the carnival and lauda poems. It is the purpose of this thesis to detail the process by which contrafacture is applied to Carnival songs from the late fifteenth century to the end of the sixteenth century. Different approaches to musical borrowing are discussed to demonstrate how Carnival songs were recycled through the process of contrafacture to reflect a variety of popular mindsets and values held by the citizens of Renaissance Florence.

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