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Tornando Indietro: Dante's Tornata and Metapoetic Returns in the Trecento Madrigal

Tornando Indietro: Dante's Tornata and Metapoetic Returns in the Trecento Madrigal Dante's explanation of the final part of the canzone, which he calls ‘tornata’ (Convivio, II, xi, paras. 2–3), as a formal return that includes metrical and musical components casts fresh light on the poetic motive of return used in some of those tornatas and reveals a potential for metapoetic links between metrics and poetry. This article extrapolates this metapoetic reading of the word tornata to the ‘ritornello’ of the trecento madrigal and shows how poets and musicians emphasized the return in the madrigal (meta)poetically and musically. Poetically, the topos of return normally occupies centre stage in the ritornello's narrative, for it responds to the earlier impetus for wandering in the preceding strophic section and ends the amorous exile created by this wandering. The centrality of poetic return helps compensate, at least partly, for the lack of return in terms of verse structure and rhyme pattern. In three case studies, I show how text and music act symbiotically – either concordantly or in an ironically discordant manner – to close the song with an expressive structural and semantic gesture. This formal articulation that occurs on at least three different levels – metrical, poetic and musical – sheds new light on a complicated issue of musico‐textual (or, rather, musico‐metatextual) relationships in the trecento. Viewed through a metapoetic lens, the resulting relationships show that trecento musical settings do not passively sonify and ornament the body of the poem, as is sometimes implied, but generate further layers of meaning that both the practitioners of this musico‐poetic culture and their audience could well have appreciated throughout the trecento. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Analysis Wiley

Tornando Indietro: Dante's Tornata and Metapoetic Returns in the Trecento Madrigal

Music Analysis , Volume 38 (1-2) – Mar 1, 2019

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
"Music Analysis © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd"
ISSN
0262-5245
eISSN
1468-2249
DOI
10.1111/musa.12134
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Dante's explanation of the final part of the canzone, which he calls ‘tornata’ (Convivio, II, xi, paras. 2–3), as a formal return that includes metrical and musical components casts fresh light on the poetic motive of return used in some of those tornatas and reveals a potential for metapoetic links between metrics and poetry. This article extrapolates this metapoetic reading of the word tornata to the ‘ritornello’ of the trecento madrigal and shows how poets and musicians emphasized the return in the madrigal (meta)poetically and musically. Poetically, the topos of return normally occupies centre stage in the ritornello's narrative, for it responds to the earlier impetus for wandering in the preceding strophic section and ends the amorous exile created by this wandering. The centrality of poetic return helps compensate, at least partly, for the lack of return in terms of verse structure and rhyme pattern. In three case studies, I show how text and music act symbiotically – either concordantly or in an ironically discordant manner – to close the song with an expressive structural and semantic gesture. This formal articulation that occurs on at least three different levels – metrical, poetic and musical – sheds new light on a complicated issue of musico‐textual (or, rather, musico‐metatextual) relationships in the trecento. Viewed through a metapoetic lens, the resulting relationships show that trecento musical settings do not passively sonify and ornament the body of the poem, as is sometimes implied, but generate further layers of meaning that both the practitioners of this musico‐poetic culture and their audience could well have appreciated throughout the trecento.

Journal

Music AnalysisWiley

Published: Mar 1, 2019

References