Crossing Cultural Boundaries: Black Slave Musicians and European Musical Collections in the Courts of Portuguese Nobility, c. Mid to Late 16th Century

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Abstract

In the age of exploration and expansion, the Portuguese took the
lead in transporting slaves from Africa and elsewhere to be sold in
mainland Europe. Indigenous songs and exotic dancing displays held
a fascination for the Portuguese and as early as the mid fifteenth
century Africans were invited by the royal court to perform at special events. By c. 1500 slaves and black African wind players and drummers became a standard feature of several Portuguese courts.
Their presence was an outward highly visible and sonic symbol of
power and prestige. Archival documentation about slave musicians
is extremely scanty. However, the recovery of a post-mortem inventory of the 5th Duke of Braganza, D. Teodósio I (d. 1563), enables a reconstruction of this leading noble court that not only contained luxury goods from all over the world—Europe, Africa, India and the Far East—but was also characterized by both a pan-European musical culture and a globally more far-reaching musical personnel of black African slaves. Music in the chapel and library demonstrates a keen interest in acquiring printed books from publishing houses in northern Europe and Italy, besides manuscripts, and the record of the varied collection of over 150 musical instruments is one of the largest in European history. It is evident that the slave musicians played the majority of these and they were also custodians of the collection. Focussing on this court, this paper explores the role and duties of slave musicians, the instruments they played, and their overall contribution to the prestigious profile and image of their patrons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages248-248
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventCremona Baroque Music 2018: 18th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music - Musicology and Cultural Heritage Department, Pavia University, Cremona, Italy
Duration: 10 Jul 201815 Jul 2018
Conference number: 18
https://baroquemusicconferencecremona.wordpress.com/

Conference

ConferenceCremona Baroque Music 2018
CountryItaly
CityCremona
Period10/07/1815/07/18
Internet address

Keywords

  • Black Slave Musicians
  • Portuguese Nobility
  • Late 16th Century
  • Courts
  • Music

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