Bruce Smith, University of Southern California

Conference convergences are exciting when they happen, and the 2018 RCSC was one such an occasion for me. My paper entitled on “Beyond Hue: Renaissance Color across Media” was the next-to-last event at the conference. By the time my turn came, my paper had already gained resonance from many other papers at the conference, especially Blake Wilson’s on the iconography of Apollo’s lyre in an excerpt from his book Singing to the Lyre: Memory, Performance, and Oral Poetry, which is being published this fall by Cambridge University Press. Where Blake (a musicologist and choral director) and I (a Shakespeare scholar) converged was an unlikely spot: color. In my paper, I was arguing that color in Renaissance media is not just a visual phenomenon: it can be felt in the so-called “colors of rhetoric” that glisten in Ariosto’s style and in chromatic harmonies and coloratura singing in Renaissance music. Paintings and music inspired by Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso are a prime example. Blake opened my eyes – and ears – in his paper on the iconography of Apollo’s lyre. In the famous example in Raphael’s painting of Mount Parnassus in the Vatican, Apollo is not playing an ancient lyre but a contemporary viola da braccio, which was used in musical declamations of poetry – including stanzas from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. (The expected lyre does appear in Marcantonio Raimoni’s engraving after Raphael’s mural.) Advice from Blake on how I could obtain more information about Renaissance musical declamation of poetry sent me to some very useful articles and books. The research I started as a result of this conference convergence at RCSC figures in my chapter on “Literature and the Performing Arts” in the Renaissance volume of The Bloomsbury Cultural History of Color (forthcoming later this year) and in the graduate seminar on “Renaissance Color across Media” that I’m teaching this semester at USC. Among the students in that course is Adam Bregman, who is completing a PhD in Early Modern music and performance at the USC Thornton School of Music.

Promoting study of the period c. 1300–1800