Modest or Unmannerly, Which Instrument Shall She Play? Guest Post

Thank you to Alison Stuart and all at Hoydens and Firebrands – “Roaring Ladies Who Write About The Seventeenth Century” – for hosting me on their fascinating blog!

Hoyden is a boisterous girl.

Firebrand is a person who is passionate about a particular cause, typically inciting change and taking radical action.

Modest or Unmannerly, Which Instrument Shall She Play? by DM Denton

Music was such an integral part of 17th century life and Hoydens and Firebrands are delighted to welcome DM Denton with a fascinating post on women and music in the seventeenth century. Diane is the author of two books set in the 17th century in which the central protagonists are musicians.  

Woman playing viol par traverso_pe_pe

In the 17th century a refined young woman might want and even be encouraged to cultivate her musical ability and prove some accomplishment through singing and accompanying herself instrumentally—as recreation not occupation, of course. Considering her need to impress a suitor, show her figure off in the best possible way, express the sweetest tones of her personality and gentle capability of her character, which instrument should she play?

I graciously encourage you to read on ….

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back tobardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Goodreads Giveaway!

I’m giving away one signed copy of my novel, A House Near Luccoli, which is actually two in one! Whoever wins this *giveaway will also be sent a signed copy of the sequel, To A Strange Somewhere, on its release early in 2015. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A House Near Luccoli by D.M. Denton

A House Near Luccoli

by D.M. Denton

Giveaway ends December 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

*This Giveaway is open to Goodreads members in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, The Netherlands, Italy, and South Africa.

Review by Barbara Rogers, By the Sea

“She might have found comfort in making the most of it, like her cats sharing the day’s last sunlight, one small splash from the sea’s horizon to the edge of the carpet’s shore.”

A House Near Luccoli is full of such lovely and lyrical prose, which gently transports the reader to 17th century Genoa, Italy. Taking in the author’s wonderful words, one can almost smell the gardens and sachets, taste the food and wine, feel the summer heat, see the musical notes being carefully transcribed, the sunshine glittering on the ocean, and hear the exquisite music. About a year ago we went to a concert, The Passion of the Italian Baroque, at the Amherst Early Music Festival, and heard beautiful performances with various combinations of the viol, violin, violone, recorder, flute, two oboes, cello, and three harpsichords. And a soprano sang along on a couple of pieces. Memories of the sound of that baroque music made reading the story of the colorful composer Alessandro Stradella and the restless Donatella all the more vivid in my mind.

Read more reviews here.

 Hope all are having a gentle and productive December so far.

Musing Music for the Season

     Excerpt from my novel, A House Near Luccoli©

(Fictional performance of
Alessandro Stradella’s Christmas Cantata
Ah, Troppo è ver
at t
he church of Santa Maria Maddalena
Genoa, 24 December, 1681.)

     Travelers through her life had spoken of il Presepi Viventi* in Roma or Napoli, staged elaborately like an opera or simply when peasants gathered in a town or village marketplace. Santa Maria Maddalena displayed a nativity in front of its main altar,  still life figures in satiny marble, the holy family ignoring who had arrived once more to bow and marvel, offer gifts already given and point to unseen stars, donkey and sheep neither tethered nor free. Alessandro had the idea for Lidia to replace the stature of Mary, draped in white, her lovely hair tumbling from her veil to frame a tranquil expression the worshippers unaware of her breathing until the soprano had sung Sovrano Mio Bene. The priest finally agreed when he met the girl’s pale eyes, closed lips and immature body,  and she was willing–if she had a choice–because her humility would be on display as someone else’s. 
     Lidia played her part well, even as the church filling with the Christmas Eve congregation breezed through her costume. The altar tapers flickered,  smoke floating downwards to assist her performance and any concern that la prima soprano wasn’t the prettiest Alessandro had ever employed.
     For the Mass’ entrance procession violins dueled without contest in Sinfonia, the hunchback Lonati soloing unrecognizably with emotion and grace, Alessandro running off with the notes on obbligato harpsichord. His musical if not physical challenger inveigled him back with such fine expression it must be imitated, a perfect opportunity for Alessandro’s virtuosity with the ease of a hawk flying high and low and landing on a pause. Lonati let down his guard, his face gloomy and shoulders sinking. But after a few bars the duo matched their humors again, Lonati’s self-pitying relieved by Alessandro’s company, connecting their past differences for a chordal if short-term agreement.
     After the Liturgy of the Word the Cantata resumed, introducing the cast and their story. First the devil in protest and fury then the concertino per un angelo and concerto grosso with Alessandro taking the part of un pastore, Lonati’s strings only encouraging the thoughts of the tenor in arpeggios e adagios.
     The soprano at the heart of the performance also rose to the violin’s challenge, her breath strung along on Lonati’s long phrasing and jumping to follow Alessandro’s rapid handling of the keys. As always he enjoyed such alternation and certainly the success of Lidia lifting her head and la Gesùs Bambino from the crib. After the Blessing of the Sacrament, there was Communion and the mass’ last rituals, the congregation still on their knees, the madrigal singers standing first . Bells rang from the tower and interplay of their voices, envisioning and extolling. Belief was sustained in countering ways yet harmonization reached out through the nave and ascended the dome, proclaiming that at least for the life of such music heaven was within reach.

*Presepi Viventi–Living nativity. It is believed that the first living nativity  was the work of St Francis of Assisi, in 1223.

 Aria from “Ah! Troppo è ver” (1670-1676c.)

 Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.