Music department talk to address borrowing processes in music

The Department of Music will host a talk titled “More Than Meets the Ear: Memory, Intertextuality, and Theology in Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Self-Borrowed Imitation Masses” Friday, Feb. 9, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Harkness Chapel. Maura Sugg, a PhD Student in Musicology at Case Western Reserve University, will give this talk.

About the talk

The practice of incorporating borrowed musical material into new compositions and contexts is a perennial creative phenomenon. By drawing on the shared musico-cultural knowledge within a given community, borrowing processes engage embodied mechanisms of memory to spark delight in the act of recognition, focus our attention, and build intricate referential webs.

In this talk, Sugg will focus on Renaissance composer Tomás Luis de Victoria and the genre of the imitation mass as a case study in musical borrowing and the ways in which it can create meaning and interest for its intended audience. Idiosyncratic in both his career and his approach to the imitation mass, Victoria almost exclusively uses his own polyphonic compositions as models for his mass settings, and he reorders, recombines, and redistributes each model’s parts across its respective mass in nuanced ways.

Sugg will investigate how Victoria’s borrowing process works using the CRIM (Citations: The Renaissance Imitation Mass) Project’s digital analytical tools, and argue that Victoria’s self-borrowed imitation masses enhance his singer-listeners’ experience of the liturgy and reinforce Catholic doctrine during the Counter-Reformation.

About the speaker

Originally from Downingtown, PA, Maura Sugg earned her BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College (Annapolis, MD) and MA in Musicology from Indiana University (Bloomington, IN). From her academic and performance experiences in both programs, she developed a love for Renaissance polyphony. Maura’s interests lie in the interpretive lenses for sacred polyphony that inform how listeners, then and now, perceive and find meaning in the music. She has presented at the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies’ Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, as well as at Indiana University’s Musicology Colloquium Series.