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Gesualdo in the Twentieth Century

My new book chapter, ‘Gesualdo in the Twentieth Century’, has now been published in Critical Music Historiography: Probing Canons, Ideologies and Institutions and is available from Ashgate. It is based on a 2011 conference paper I gave at the Radical Music History symposium at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

View on Ashgate’s website here.

Critical Music Historiography

Gesualdo 400th Anniversary Conference

Call for Papers

Gesualdo 400th Anniversary Conference

Saturday 23rd – Sunday 24th November

University of York in affliation with the RMA

Celebrating the music of Gesualdo, the 400th Anniversary Conference will combine academic paper sessions with a series of singing workshops and performances throughout the weekend. James Wood will give a keynote speech on his reconstructions of Gesualdo’s second book of Sacrae Cantiones and forensic psychiatrist Dr Ruth McAllister will present an analysis of the murder of Gesualdo’s first wife based on contemporaneous accounts. On the Saturday, I Fagiolini will give a concert of secular music by Gesualdo and his contemporaries. On the Sunday, The 24 (a university of York Chamber Choir directed by Robert Hollingworth) will give a concert of sacred music, including some of James Wood’s reconstructions and a set from the Tenebrae Responsories. The academic conference will focus on the music of Gesualdo, his peers and their times.

Topics for consideration:

• The Music of Gesualdo

• Gesualdo’s peers and the artistic environment in Naples and Ferrara

• Contemporary parallels in other art forms to Gesualdo’s advanced and mannerist music

Proposals are welcomed from, but not restricted to, the topics listed above. We would like to invite proposals for 20 minute individual research or recital papers (followed by 10 minutes discussion). Proposals should not exceed 250 words and should be emailed to: Please submit proposals as an MS Word or PDF document but please also include a plain-text version in the main email. The following details need to be included in your proposal: name, institution, postal address, email address, telephone number, and audio/visual requirements. A publication project based on the conference proceedings will be undertaken.

The deadline for receipt of proposals is 6th September 2013.

Committee Members: Robert Hollingworth, Prof. Jonathan Wainwright and Joseph Knowles

Accompanying this Call for Papers is the world premiere recording (we believe) of Gesualdo’s neglected 1585 motet ‘Ne reminiscaris Domine delicta nostra’. Performed by The 24 and recorded in January at the National Centre for Early Music in York.

This call for papers is also available at

SMA TAGS: The Implications of Set-Theory Analysis on the Music of Gesualdo

On the 19th April I will be presenting my paper The Implications of Set-Theory Analysis on the Music of Gesualdo at the Society for Music Analysis Graduate Student Conference in Keele. The abstract for the paper is below.

Although the music of Don Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa (1566 – 1613) was conceived modally, many passages of his music depart from modal rules and others are conceived chromatically. Yet, one aspect that remains constant throughout his compositions is his use of interval structure. Composing using patterns of intervals originating in modal theory and the sixteenth-century understanding of ancient Greek music, Gesualdo carefully controlled his compositional technique through interval structures. One way of elucidating these structures is through a set theoretical analysis.

As set theory considers all pitches equal and modal theory dictates a hierarchical pitch structure, a set-theoretical analysis must be used sensitively in conjunction with more traditional methods. However, it can be used to enhance a modal analysis and to name the interval structures used in composition. The text is the starting point for the composer of a seconda prattica madrigal and specific interval patterns relate to particular semantic fields. Set theory also allows easy distinction between those passages conceived modally, but in harmonic regions exotic to the mode, from those conceived chromatically. This paper examines the implications of a set theoretical analysis and how it can help delineate a hypothetical compositional procedure for Gesualdo’s madrigals.