P. 1
Introduction to The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories

Introduction to The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories

|Views: 37|Likes:
Introduction to The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories, published by Pickering & Chatto
Introduction to The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories, published by Pickering & Chatto

More info:

Published by: Pickering and Chatto on Jul 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

08/07/2013

pdf

text

original

INTRODUCTION

This book is entitled The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and her Territories; with the term ‘musical iconography’ I refer to representations of instruments and musical practice in the arts and literature of the period that symbolize different aspects of monarchical authority. In the Spanish seventeenth century (that is, the period of Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II) the nature of royal power and the role of the king were subject to ample debate. The model of royalty already promoted by Philip II, based on the figure of an all-powerful monarch who rules alone and controls the destiny of his subjects, was re-elaborated and enhanced by royal panegyrists, but also refuted by representatives of traditional government bodies, like counsels or high courts (which were plural by nature), and by a number of political scholars who advocated a Christian morality based on common, non-personal, interest. The consciousness of acute crisis that dominated most this period, due to permanent bankruptcy, depopulation, hostilities with France, England and the United Provinces and rebellions in different territories of the Spanish monarchy, favoured the publication of many political treatises, several of which were conceived and illustrated as emblem books (for this genre, inaugurated by Alciato with Emblemata in 1531, regarded the visual as a good implement for presenting moral and political advice). In the emblem books it was common to find expressions like ‘the republic is similar to a harp’ or ‘the prudent prince tunes the strings of the state’, together with images of musical instruments as a metaphor of the well-ordered, harmonic kingdom. These showed the way in which the strings – the subjects – ought to keep the appropriate consonance, either by remaining in the assigned post, or by singing in unison, and the musical images also presented the king as the mighty or expert musician, able to tighten the strings without breaking them and produce a pleasing harmony. Political writers both for and against the imposition of a personal, more absolute rule used such musical metaphors to promote their views. Alciati dedicated his emblem X, Foedera, to the alliances among Italian princes and to the harmony that must preside over their political agreements, as if only one of the parts breaks the pact, consonance fails and dissonance takes

Copyright

–1–

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 1

04/07/2013 12:59:57

2

The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories

Copyright

over. The pictura chosen by the Milanese jurist was a lute with a broken string accompanied by a score. As will be discussed below, this musical – or anti-musical – metaphor heavily influenced, directly or indirectly, the iconography of power in the territories of the Spanish monarchy. Thanks to Alciati’s Emblemata and subsequent repertoires of emblems, imprese and hieroglyphics, musical scenes with a political content migrated from the engraved book to other media, like painting and sculpture. And so they appeared on the ephemeral decorations that transformed the city in festivals dedicated to the king, his family or his ruling surrogates, even in court-sponsored theatre. This musical iconography was a key factor in conveying an ideal image of the ruler as a guarantor of political harmony both in and beyond the palace, with different meanings that proclaimed either the subjects’s expectations (on the iconography of the festive displays sponsored by the guilds and urban corporations) or a divinized idea of power disseminated from court. Musical metaphors of the harmonic society and the good government had a long tradition in Western culture: Greek antiquity codified them in the teachings of Pythagoras and Plato (especially in the later’s dialogues Republic and On the Laws). The Bible also abounds in musical symbolism and, as is well known, identifies King David with the string instruments and prayer through singing. These metaphors are mainly based on chordophones (lyre, harp, lute, guitar), appropriate symbols for a plurality of voices and the master’s capacity to make them sound in tune. Their political interpretation goes back to the ethical character ascribed by the ancients to the zither and lyre, instruments of the old gods of wisdom and civility (Mercury, Apollo, Orpheus), which were essential in education, especially that of the rulers of the city-state. Medieval and early modern mythology repertoires, together with emblem books, interpreted the Greek and Roman stories in allegorical key, often as traces of a long-forgotten primeval divine Revelation; both genres helped transmit musical symbolism to contemporary audiences at a time when the nature of political power was being redefined in the Peninsula. The image of the ideal prince and his ‘musical’ role at the head of the state drew on the most prestigious characters of classical mythology, those who had a role as makers or keepers of cosmic harmony: Apollo (the Sun god), Amphion and Orpheus. On the other hand, Mercury, the winged ambassador of the Olympians, who was often linked to the angels in political treatises, became a suitable alter-ego for viceroys and governors (lieutenants and emissaries of a god-like king). This musical iconography of power was relevant because the vision of the world at the time still relied heavily on notions of cosmic harmony, of which music was a natural expression (starting from the diapason or interval of the octave, which contained the ideal Pythagorean proportions of the fourth and the fifth, imagined by Robert Fludd as the cosmic monochord tuned by God’s

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 2

04/07/2013 12:59:57

Introduction

3

hand in Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica atque technica historia – Oppenheim, 1617–). As Boethius had already argued in the sixth century, world harmony (musica mundana) had its counterpart in the microcosm of man (musica humana), and instrumental music (musica instrumentalis) was but a pale, imperfect reflection of it. However, musical symbolism was also current because this vision of the universe was being challenged by events such as the Reformation and subsequent religious wars, a new understanding of the Earth and its position in the universe drawn from astronomy and exploration and changing economic conditions which often unsettled social categories. As J. Campbell states, the Spanish society at the time cannot be reduced to a ‘society of orders, a clear hierarchy in which every person knew his or her position and corresponding obligations’.1 Musical metaphors of the state and the ruler lay at this breaking point, defending the existent harmonic order (the mixed monarchy) or proposing the creation of an alternative order in the midst of chaos (the absolute monarchy). Aided by the rediscovery of ancient literature, early modern humanism spread the idea that since man, the likeness of God, is a creator able to reproduce cosmic harmony in material constructions and imaginary utopias, human intervention can attenuate, or even revert, the effect of adverse circumstances such as war or the fall of states; in other words, man can install harmony where chaos exists. Ruling became an art, a techne, which Machiavelli famously deprived of moral connotations. It is not by chance that to name the state, contemporary political treatises abound in metaphors referring to entities with parts whose existence is subordinate to the harmonic running of the whole: artefact, clock, machine and, more importantly, the musical instrument. The latter were seen as a composite of many different strings – citizens, families, smaller government bodies – that relate to and complement each other for the whole to subsist. This metaphor was a very attractive way to represent the Spanish monarchy, with its complex institutional structure based around fourteen councils which handled ‘all matters concerning the “office” of the king’2 and very diverse and far-flung territories. But a machine or an instrument needs an engineer. The great majority of Spanish authors at the time believed that the monarchy was the best possible political system, in analogy with the Christian model of the Creation (there is only one God; one Sun; one head that rules each body). It was necessary to ensure that all elements of the republic were ordered towards the superior unity, God, as that would make the association of people closer to divine perfection. The government of one was also regarded as more perfect than aristocracy or democracy because (at least in theory) it avoids dissent and factional conflicts. The defenders of a contractual, more traditional view of government perceived the counsellors as the ones who could ensure harmony by balancing the body politic and limiting royal authority and by acting as intermediaries between the people and their king.3 On the other hand, for the theorists of the reason of

Copyright

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 3

04/07/2013 12:59:57

4

The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories

Copyright

state, a hierarchical political order was desirable because it would clearly state the duties of those who obey and the powers of those who rule: monarchical government appeared as the best system to impose such order.4 In this view, the councils not only limited royal authority, but were seen as obstructionist institutions, even anachronistic in the complex reality of late sixteenth-century Spain, an ‘empire’ that in 1580 had acquired Portugal with its vast overseas possessions and was involved in different conflicts with other European powers. Apart from that, the idea of a ‘mixed’ monarchy clashed with the newly introduced concept of sovereignty, developed by Jean Bodin in The Six Books of the Commonwealth (1576): this implied a sacralized royal majesty where the monarch had no superior and was responsible for his actions only to God; where the power of the sovereign was ‘perpetual and absolute’. As Philip II had already stated in the instructions for the education of his heir, the future Philip III, a good ruler had to ‘beat himself ’ by cultivating moral virtues such as prudence, fortitude or temperance, which balance those passions and personal appetites that can turn a king into a tyrant. A tyrannical ruler was the opposite of King Solomon, the biblical model for the Christian king, historically acclaimed for his skills in imparting justice to his subjects.5 All political authors without exception stated that the community could not remain united without justice. Musical metaphors permeated the discourse on the meaning of these cardinal ‘virtues’, offering different paradigms for the God-like king who keeps the community in harmony to suit the different political positions. The authors who defended a contractual vision of the monarchy maintained the Scholastic principle that prudence is the ability to distinguish good from evil and to pursue what is good and honest. That entailed an absolute obligation for the monarch to defend the ‘true’ religion, even at the cost of losing his kingdom or crown, as God would eventually reward him with victory over his enemies. Machiavelli’s opponents wished to prove, not only that Catholicism and ruling skills were compatible, but that Christian behaviour enhanced the possibilities for political success: God grants victory to those who follow him; an immoral conduct is counterproductive to the rulers’ interests. This kind of ideology implied a theological vision of politics where the ruler was portrayed as a miles christianus, in a constant state of alertness and vigilance, ready to defend the good and honest in any circumstances. Musical symbolism came in aid of this position, for example, in the figure of God Mercury, the inventor of the zither and a maker of cosmic harmony who, according to early modern mythographers, watches over the world while others sleep: as will be discussed later, Viceroy Marquis of Villena was allegorically portrayed in this guise by the cabildo of Mexico City in the triumphal arch erected at his arrival (September 1640), prudently looking after the New World (in this case symbolized by Argos’s many eyes as in

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 4

04/07/2013 12:59:57

Introduction

5

Valeriano’s hieroglyphic Mundi machina), which he had made sleep (that is, rest in tranquility) with the harmony of his lyre.6 For the defenders of the reason of state, prudence was the capacity to distinguish the useful from the noxious, and it was only the monarch who could define what was useful for the community. That entailed a desire for the king’s capacity for independent action, which made him closer to God. Music as a metaphor of power was also adapted to promote this political point of view, for instance through the classical fable of Apollo and Marsyas: as will be discussed later, the myth has it that Apollo’s zither or lyre – a symbol of harmony, of reconciliation of opposites, of the rational part of the universe – musically defeated Marsyas’s flute, associated, like all wind instruments, with Dionysus and identified with ecstasy, frenzy and the realm of the senses. The theme was a favourite of King Philip IV, and contemporary authors associated the Satyr’s foolish challenge to Apollo with the ‘sin’ of hubris, to the imprudence of the vassal who wants to equal himself with his lord. This point takes us back to the importance of cardinal virtues: these were prominent in seventeenth-century Spanish political theory because most authors believed that the king ought to gain the love, obedience and respect of his subjects in order to consolidate his power. This point of view opposed Machiavelli’s opinion that royal authority could be only imposed by fear: it was love, not terror, that bonded subjects together and to their monarch. In order to promote such affection, the ruler needed first of all to exert justice, not applied with rigour, but tempered by mercy. Especially for anti-Machiavellian authors such as Pedro de Ribadeneyra, Juan de Mariana, Juan de Santa María and later Juan Baños de Velasco y Azevedo, the king, like God, should regard as the ultimate goal of justice the criminal’s repentance and his/her reintegration into the community. In L. Anneo Séneca ilustrado en blasones políticos y morales (1670), Baños went so far as to state that the king must even forgive the crime of lese-majesty, the same as Christ forgave from the Cross those who condemned him (see Figure I.1). In the exercise of governance, gentleness is a companion of prudence: Baños presents the ruler as a learned musician, able to tighten the dissonant string without breaking it in order to achieve a marvellous consonance from his instrument (that is, his realm). This topic also related to that of royal liberality, which A. Feros defines as ‘the quintessence of kingship, because it enabled the king to address his subjects’. As the same author notes,
according to early modern writers, royal mercedes conferred vitality, strength, and virtue on members of the body politic; acted as magnets by drawing many to the service of the monarchy; and transformed royal servants into perfect citizens of the republic.7

Copyright

The king’s liberality, therefore, theoretically played a harmonizing role in the society.

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 5

04/07/2013 12:59:57

6

The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories

Copyright
Figure I.1: Juan Baños de Velasco y Acevedo, L. Anneo Séneca ilustrado en blasones políticos y morales, y su impugnador de sí mismo (Madrid, Mateo de Espinosa y Arteaga, 1670), Questión VIII, Ruptae non sonant. Reproduced courtesy of Biblioteca de Castilla-La Mancha (Toledo, Spain).

The musical iconography of cardinal virtues shows that the divinization of the ruler was a common topic in seventeenth-century Spain, but not necessarily to do with a cult of theocentric absolutism. A paternalist vision of royalty, based on the qualities ascribed to Jesus Christ and the New Law, brought kings close to God in the political imaginary of those who defined power on a contractual basis. In this view, insistence on the practice of moral virtues referred to the traditional ‘two persons’ of the king, to the fact that his human nature (weak and mortal) should be worked out to perfectly complement his public, immortal person (that is, the royal office, created by the community to ensure earthly well-being and to better achieve the divine plan of salvation). On the other hand, for the supporters of an absolutist model of monarchy, royal power had to be embodied in the person of the king, who was the centre of the system, the personification of God’s will on earth, and who as such needed to appear to his subjects as a divinity, as a superior being endowed with unchallengeable

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 6

04/07/2013 12:59:57

Introduction

7

authority. The theorists of the new conception of kingship, although they never challenged that the king’s sacred duty was to serve the common good, focused on the idea that the king’s human person was perfect, infallible by nature; that is, that the ‘two bodies’ actually fused in the person of the king, who was intrinsically prudent, just and merciful. The harmonic connotations of these virtues and their role in the discourses that identified the king with God gave them a special relation to the idea of royal temperament, as they were ascribed a balancing role in human passions. As Feros remarks, Charles V and Philip II understood that the king’s ability to project himself as the stationary axis of the world rested on his ability to discipline his emotions and his behaviour with meticulous rigour. Philip III and Philip IV continued this tendency and they (especially the latter) were described by their contemporaries as measured, controlled, scarce in words, always with an imperturbable face, possessors of a great regal dignity; for example, Antonio Pérez de la Rúa in Funeral hecho en Roma en la Yglesia de Santiago de los Españoles (1666), when reminding the reader of the qualities of the deceased Philip IV, stated that his virile beauty enjoyed a majestic and agreeable presence proper to a sovereign,
making apparent, as if seen through glass, in the virility of his body the courage of his soul, and showing in the proportion of his parts the composition of his affections, and in the agreement of his colours, the harmony of his virtues.8

Hence a discourse was elaborated around the ideas of ‘unity’, ‘uniformity’ and ‘immobility’ as concepts ascribable to the ruler. For the king’s supporters, such ‘unity’ and ‘immobility’ characterized the monarch as an invisible ‘unmoved mover’, as the ‘stationary axis of the world’, never changing and almost eternal – since in royal funeral iconography each new king was regarded as a resurrection of the former. For the defenders of the ‘mixed’ monarchy, on the other hand, ‘unity’, ‘uniformity’ and ‘immobility’ referred to the king being simple (in the sense of not being deceitful or fickle), and possessing a particular ‘composure’ (compostura): qualities that resemble the divine but are not necessarily intrinsic to royalty, and whose achievement entails a conscious effort from the ruler to be a good Christian. The roots of this opinion were in Plato’s Republic,9 where Socrates linked the three elements of the human soul – rational, irascible and concupiscent – with the three terms of a harmony – that of the deep, medium and sharp chords. It appeared in a large number of emblems and hieroglyphics, such as Bona disciplina by G. P. Valeriano Bolzani in Hieroglyphica (1550). For Franciscan Juan de Santa María, one of the most ardent critics of the theories of the reason of state during the Philip III’s reign, the word ‘king’ (rex) denoted the man who rules himself before ruling others; he who, like God, keeps his subjects in justice and truth and ‘sustains all things in order, policy and agreement’ (the word concierto used by Santa María means in Spanish both

Copyright

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 7

04/07/2013 12:59:58

8

The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories

Copyright

‘agreement’ and ‘musical concert’).10 From this point of view, the royal ‘temperament’ was not divinely provided, but needed to be constructed with effort, similar to that required to achieve musical consonance out of dissimilar strings. Royal composure related to the practice of mercy and benevolence, qualities that generated social harmony because they granted the subjects’ love for their monarch; passions like wrath and rage had no place in this royal archetype. In the words of theorist Francisco de Zárraga in Séneca juez de sí mismo (1684), ‘everything that makes a dissonance is indecent in a king’: affections and emotions constitute the strings of the moral instrument, which, when out of tune, causes royal composure to break, something Zárraga symbolized through the harp with a broken string. The king’s ‘out-of-tune’ voice, a metaphor for the very human and pedestrian feeling of anger, upsets the sovereign’s temperament and alters his countenance: in seventeenth-century political iconography it was compared with the music of Athena’s aulós, a wind instrument of her own invention that she disposed of when she realized that blowing into it distended her mouth and caused her cheeks to swell. This episode of Greek mythology was quoted by Aristotle in Politics;11 there the philosopher scorned wind instruments because they do not allow the use of the voice while they are being played, so they lack any value in education. This is the reason why it is the goddess of wisdom who rejects them. Anger, portrayed here as anti-melody/anti-discourse/anti-wisdom, causes discord not only in the monarch’s public person, but also in the republic, as it prevents the ruler from imparting moderate justice and achieving the criminal’s reintegration in social harmony. But just as the monarch is the source of vivifying and harmonizing influences in the microcosm of his kingdom while alive and ruling, his demise entails the alteration and discord of the elements, as the whole cosmos mourns the tragic event. The death of a monarch is described almost in terms of a universal conflagration, as if the axis of the world went out of kilter. A sophisticated iconography of chaos was elaborated to convey these sad feelings based on broken, mourning, mute or abandoned instruments which cannot produce a musical sound because the universe has lost its harmony (so they cannot vibrate in tune with it) or because the mighty musician is dead. Detailed descriptions of the atmosphere at royal funerals also immerse the reader in the unsettling soundscape of the mourning city: endlessly tolling bells, out-of-tune drums and muted bugles, cries, sighs, lugubrious voices and all sorts of noises resembling creeks, whispers, moans, groans. This was a theatre of calamity that only ceased with the proclamation of the new king, seen as the return of the Sun to the world. This book, therefore, will be mainly based on the study of early modern political treatises and royal festivals, with allusions to some relevant theatre plays commissioned by those in positions of power. Contemporary repertoires of emblems, hieroglyphics and handbooks of mythology will be also considered in this analysis

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 8

04/07/2013 12:59:58

Introduction

9

of the musical iconography of power in seventeenth-century Spain and its territories. I am not attempting a global study of the political theory of that period, nor can I include all extant mirrors for princes or festival accounts produced within the territories of the Spanish monarchy. Instead I have made a selection of those sources that are as representative as possible of the different political positions at the time and of the diversity of the Spanish realms. I believe this study will add valuable information to our understanding of the image of power in the early modern world, and on how political themes were visually conveyed by different institutions of power (popular or court-based) to influence the public, the ruling elites or even the monarch himself. In the same way, the wide range of classical and later sources examined in chapters 1–4 to explain the cultural sources of seventeenth-century musical symbolism are not exhaustive, but they are the texts I believe exerted the most influence over Spanish political writers. Chapter 1, ‘Strings versus Wind Instruments: The Ancient Tradition of the Musical Cosmos’, looks at the classical paragone between chordophones and aerophones, where the former were ascribed to Apollo and the world of rationality, light and order and the latter to Dionysus and the realm of the senses, strident noise and frenzy. It explains the role of the mythical string instrument, the sevenstring zither or lyre, as a metaphor of the cosmos (with its seven planets) and of the orderly state, as it was used for the education of the ruling classes. This chapter also clarifies the negative meanings ascribed to wind instruments, which in Greek philosophy were considered languid, relaxed and similar to the feminine part of the cosmos (warm and humid, just as the wind needed to make them sound). The study of relevant passages of classical works like Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Politics and Cicero’s Republic will reveal to what extent the conception of music and that of politics were interwoven, since in the mentality of the classical period, changes in music and changes in government were synonymous, as exemplified by the fable of musician Timotheus Milesius, who was punished by the Spartan ephori for adding more strings to its zither than the usual seven. Chapter 2, ‘The Harmony of the Divine Christian Order’, analyses how the Christian world view assimilated the classical musical metaphors of the orderly polity and the ideal ruler. It focuses on thinkers who had an impact on the musical iconography of power in seventeenth-century Spain and its territories, such as Saint Augustine, John of Salisbury and Thomas Aquinas. It explains how the musical model of the harmonious society underlies both the political archetype of the Kingdom of God, formulated by Augustine in The City of God, and that of the order of nature, defended by Aquinas in On Monarchy. This assimilationist approach was extremely influential in the Peninsula through the political literature produced at King Alfonso X The Wise’s court (such as the Siete Partidas), and lasted well into the seventeenth century.

Copyright

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 9

04/07/2013 12:59:58

10 The Musical Iconography of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spain and Her Territories

Copyright

Chapter 3, ‘The Harmony of Earthly Rule: Erasmus of Rotterdam and Jean Bodin’, looks at the highly influential political writings of the humanist writers Desiderius Erasmus and Jean Bodin, and how they use musical metaphors to propose different models of harmonious monarchical rule. Erasmus looks back at the original meaning of the term ecclesia (assembly) and presents the ideal republic as a concio or conversation between the king, the bishop and the people, where peace and social harmony are maintained through universal education in Christian virtues. Erasmus draws on the musical connotations of the early Christian logos: the cosmic power of harmony, ascribed to Christ as the New Song. Bodin, on the other hand, opts for a less idealistic and more scientific approach to the study of the body politic, and applies mathematical sequences to the analysis of political justice: he adds to the traditional arithmetic and geometric sequences a new one of his own conception, the harmonic, which combines the best elements of the other two in order to make the society equitable and monarchical rule perfect. For Bodin, the king resembles the interval of the octave or diapason, which includes all other intervals (the different social classes). Chapter 4, ‘Emblematic Literature and the Ideal Ruler‘, studies the role of emblems and hieroglyphic repertoires in the transmission of the musical metaphor of the state and the ruler in early modern Europe. From the 1530s, musical metaphors of the state and the prince acquired a visual representation with the emergence of emblem books. The starting point was Hieroglyphica by Horapollo, which triggered the Renaissance ‘fever’ for literature in the form of hieroglyphics and illustrated emblem books. Horapollo spoke of the lyre as a metaphor of the human being who is able to unite others; that is, to generate concord among his/her equals, an idea that inspired highly influential emblem authors such as Alciati or Valeriano. The chapter shows how emblem literature was integrated into theories of ideal governance in Peninsular political writing. Chapter 5, ‘Musical Emblems of the State in Seventeenth-Century Spain: Amphion, Timotheus Milesius, Marsyas and the Sirens’, analyses the musical symbolism of both Spanish political theory and counter-Reformist ideology that compared the social order to God’s Creation. In this view, the monarch was characterized as a ‘maker of harmony’ or perfect musician who maintains order despite the instability of the times and the mutability of earthly affairs. The study of the musical metaphors of the polity in Spain (best exemplified in Amphion’s lyre) offers a valuable insight into the contemporary debate over the nature of monarchical power in the face of historical challenges like the administration of America or shifts in power relations with territories like Portugal or the Low Countries. Musical symbolism of the dissonant or chaotic society (expressed by myths like Marsyas’s foolish challenge to Apollo, or the Sirens’ seductive voices) will also be discussed.

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 10

04/07/2013 12:59:58

Introduction

11

Chapter 6, ‘The Celestial Lyre: Royal Virtues and Harmonious Rule’, focuses squarely on metaphors of the king as a harmony-maker in the polity, as a just and clement leader who is a ‘Good Shepherd’ to his people. Once again, contemporary debates about the relative merits of a mixed or absolute model of monarchy influenced the ways in which the ruler’s harmony-making activity was conceptualized. For the supporters of the rule of one, the sovereign is presented as an actual maker of harmony, as the main string of the instrument of the state. On the other hand, for the defenders of the mixed monarchy, the king appears as an updater of an already existing order, someone whose Christian virtues relate to Divine music and whose balanced temperament and countenance (similar to a tuned harp or lyre) channels universal harmony into the realm. In this view, if the monarch loses his temper or judgement, he ends up resembling a flute player, whose distorted face and vulgar appearance is comparable to that of hybrids and monsters (symbolized in the aulós-playing satyr Marsyas). Chapter 7, ‘Cosmic Harmony, Royal Wisdom and Eloquence’, studies the concept of royal wisdom, understood not simply as accumulation of knowledge and political experience, but as a superior civilizing capacity that relates, on one hand, to the king’s prudence and equity and, on the other hand, to his proximity and close communication with God (the Peninsular Habsburgs assumed the role of protectors of faith and promoted the rhetoric of the dynasty’s divine election). Royal wisdom was often imagined as royal eloquence and the musical iconography associated with this quality alluded to those gods and heroes of ancient mythology (Apollo, Mercury, Amphion and Orpheus ) who were associated with the founding of cities, nations and civilization itself. Chapter 8, ‘The Death of the Monarch and the Discord of the Elements’, looks at the iconographic response to royal death and shows that when the king died, the kingdom he ruled was transformed into chaos while the firmament mourned and became dissonant through the ‘general discord of the elements’, a prevalent theme at royal funerals. This ‘iconography of chaos’ included images of damaged, mournful or broken instruments that could no longer produce music or contribute to cosmic harmony. Quotations from the Psalms or the Book of Lamentations often accompanied this imagery of discord. In addition, the usually colourful city was draped in black, and its soundscape transformed to low-pitched music, bell tolling and mournful cries.

Copyright

697 PPC7 Musical Iconography of Power.indb 11

04/07/2013 12:59:58

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->