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Music in Renaissance Magic

Toward a Historiography of Others

Magic enjoyed a vigorous revival in sixteenth-century Europe, attaining a prestige lost for over a millennium and becoming, for some, a kind of universal philosophy. Renaissance music also suggested a form of universal knowledge through renewed interest in two ancient themes: the Pythagorean and Platonic "harmony of the celestial spheres" and the legendary effects of the music of bards like Orpheus, Arion, and David. In this climate, Renaissance philosophers drew many new and provocative connections between music and the occult sciences.

In Music in Renaissance Magic, Gary Tomlinson describes some of these connections and offers a fresh view of the development of early modern thought in Italy. Raising issues essential to postmodern historiography—issues of cultural distance and our relationship to the others who inhabit our constructions of the past —Tomlinson provides a rich store of ideas for students of early modern culture, for musicologists, and for historians of philosophy, science, and religion.

"A scholarly step toward a goal that many composers have aimed for: to rescue the idea of New Age Music—that music can promote spiritual well-being—from the New Ageists who have reduced it to a level of sonic wallpaper."—Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"An exemplary piece of musical and intellectual history, of interest to all students of the Renaissance as well as musicologists. . . . The author deserves congratulations for introducing this new approach to the study of Renaissance music."—Peter Burke, NOTES

"Gary Tomlinson’s Music in Renaissance Magic: Toward a Historiography of Others examines the ’otherness’ of magical cosmology. . . . [A] passionate, eloquently melancholy, and important book."—Anne Lake Prescott, Studies in English Literature

308 pages | 2 line drawings, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 1993

Culture Studies

History: Ancient and Classical History

Music: General Music

Philosophy: History and Classic Works

Table of Contents

1: Approaching Others (Thoughts before Writing)
Anthropology and Its Discontents. Occult Thought and Hegemonic Histories. The Hermeneutic Recognition of Others. The Rehabilitation of Hermeneutic Dialogue. Archaeology, Genealogy, and Hermeneutic History.
2: The Scope of Renaissance Magic
The New Magic. The World of the Renaissance Magus. Agrippa versus Foucault. Locating Occult Musics.
3: Modes and Planetary Song: The Musical Alliance of Ethics and Cosmology
Structures and Their Reproduction. Structural Transformations circa 1500. Structure and Event.
4: Ficino’s Magical Songs
Spirit, Soul, Music. Word, Image, Music. Phantasmic and Demonic Song. Substance, Figure, Sound. Seeing and Hearing in the Renaissance.
5: Musical Possession and Musical Soul Loss
Possession, Shamanism, and Soul Loss. Musical Soul Loss and Possession: Examples from Nonelite Culture. Possession and Soul Loss in Ficino’s Furors. Thoughts on the Politics of Early-Modern Mysticism.
6: An Archaeology of Poetic Furor, 1500-1650
Foucault’s Epistemes. Magical Furor. Analytic Furor. Poetic Furor and Archaeological Ambivalence circa 1600.
7: Archaeology and Music: Apropos of Monteverdi’s Musical Magic
8: Believing Others (Thoughts upon Writing)
Appendix: Passages Translated in the Text
Works Cited

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