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Home > Blog > Articles > “The Strolling Musicologist and the Musical Heritage” by Camilla Cavicchi (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance and Università degli Studi di Padova)

“The Strolling Musicologist and the Musical Heritage” by Camilla Cavicchi (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance and Università degli Studi di Padova)

When, as musicologists, we take a stroll through sites of historical and cultural interest, we are often disappointed by the museography which most likely overlooks the musical elements which are present in their own showcases or in the frescoes on the walls, there and clearly visible for hundreds of years. Our society seems to demonstrate a real disregard for the musical events of the past. And yet music has always been a structural element in churches, palaces, and castles, as well as fundamental in the human practices of our ancestors, witnessed before our eyes by collections of instruments, musical manuscripts and prints, recordings, paintings, and much more. Everything seems resolutely mute, silent, and for the general public even non-existent. Nevertheless, our musical heritage is not only extremely rich, but also offers unique sensory and intellectual experiences for visitors of heritage sites.

Inspired by this awareness, the STSM mission we conducted in Berlin, a city that is world-renowned for the importance of museums and memorials, made it possible to work with Rebecca Wolf and Hans-Joachim Maempel of the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, a key center for the musicological research in history and acoustic in the middle of the Berlin Kulturforum. Over the course of a week, we shared many experiences. We presented and reflected on our own related productions in the field of musicological research in heritage sites and museums: Virtual Musical Heritage produced by RicercarLab (Tours) and Sound & Vision Experience Lab invented and presented by Hans-Joachim Maempel.

We explored Berlin’s memorials and museums with collections related to music, and we ascertained the usual observation: musicology has no voice. This groundwork enabled us to elaborate a proposal for an international project to increase the presence of musicology in the daily life of our society. After the STSM meeting, Philippe Vendrix coordinated a group of musicologists of EarlyMuse Cost to apply to the call “Innovation Labs Culture and Creativity”. We submitted the project MusHerMes – Musical Heritage Messanger which proposes to develop the creation of a new model of video production and installation to be experienced in the heritage sites. We brought together different universities (Tours, Utrecht, Côte d’Azur), research centers (Orpheus Institute in Gent and Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung Preussischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin), and some relevant heritage sites represented by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (France) and by the Musei Civici di Arte Antica in Ferrara (Italy). Whilst we await the results of this application, we believe that musicology must continue to forge strong links with wider society to explain and advocate for the variety and richness of our shared musical heritage, as well as highlight the importance of diversity, bringing the beauty of music to a non-specialist audience.

Musicologists visiting the Saint Chapel in Châteaudun during the workshop Reconstructing the Renaissance Banquet (Tours, CESR, 25 March 2022).