False Relations: Music and the Rhetoric of Dissonance in Early Modern Europe

Project Details


Dr Ellie Chan has been awarded a three-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to undertake an interdisciplinary project investigating false relations in early modern Europe.

An art-historian by training, her research focuses on musical–visual culture, exploring the intersections between word, image and musical notation by examining what can be broadly described as ‘functional’ or ‘epistemic’ images: diagrams, notations and visual material that uses its visual appeal as a tool for instruction.

For the false relations project she will consider the implications of applying such visual analysis to the early modern musical page. False relations disrupt everything that we know about early modern musical culture. They were a distinctive element of the early modern vocal partsong. They enjoyed widespread currency from the late-fifteenth century until the mid-seventeenth, even while they were forbidden by the rules of concordance prescribed in contemporary musical theoretical treatises. In this holistic investigation of the phenomenon, she aims to locate theoretical understandings of false relations with wider visual, symbolic and cultural milieu.

The project explores printed and manuscript sources of early modern music, alongside accounts of falseness, incongruity and error in the musical treatises, rhetorical treatises and art theory of the period in order to move towards an understanding of what false relations meant to performers, listeners, readers and composers in the early modern era.
Short titleR:HAZ EleanorChanLeverhumeECF
Effective start/end date1/09/2031/08/23


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