Andrew Dell’Antonio on “BROmantic singing”

We’re back! Just in time to stir up controversy before the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society, this year in Louisville. (You can follow the events on twitter at #AMS2015.) This week we at The Avid Listener bring you Andrew Dell’Antonio’s last essay of the season, a re-consideration of who sang madrigals and when. I’ll admit that when I taught 16th century madrigals, I did the shtick of shocking my students by unveiling all of the sexual innuendos. But what’s news to me is that madrigal singing was largely homosocial. Or, as Andrew puts it, madrigals are BROmantic songs.

Here’s a teaser: “It’s been a common schtick among music history teachers to tell our students that sixteenth-century Italian and English madrigals are not the wholesome, jolly songs about shepherds, nymphs, and fa la la they learned to sing in high school. Ultimately, they’re about sex. Amused at having mildly shocked our charges, we are often satisfied to leave the matter at that and forge ahead to the “progress” of Baroque music. But if we’re willing to take the issue a bit deeper, there’s more for us to consider about gender dynamics and social singing—not just in the Renaissance, but up to the present day. Because madrigal singing was not just about sex: it was largely about bromance.”

Andrew uses some wonderful (and weird) examples to illustrate his points. Teachers, these are great examples to assign to your students. And as always, we’ve offered some discussion questions to get students thinking about what this all means. Enjoy!

Join us next week for  “Re-thinking Convention and Innovation” by Nicholas Lockey! And once again, if you need help navigating the site, take a look at our November digest.

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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