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The Emotional Power of MusicMultidisciplinary perspectives on musical arousal, expression, and social control$
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Tom Cochrane, Bernardino Fantini, and Klaus R. Scherer

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654888

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654888.001.0001

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The psychotropic power of music during the Renaissance

The psychotropic power of music during the Renaissance

Chapter:
(p.287) Chapter 21The psychotropic power of music during the Renaissance
Source:
The Emotional Power of Music
Author(s):

Brenno Boccadoro

, Kristen Gray Jafflin
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654888.003.0021

According to the neoplatonic philosophy of Marsilio Ficino, harmony acts on the inferior faculties of the soul, which are independent of the will. In this context, this chapter discusses a few classical myths of the musical treatment of ‘excessus mentis’, that is a deep alteration of the psychic equilibrium, as in fury or ecstasy. The fundamental idea is that harmony is a concordance of discordant (crasis) opposites, a conciliation of antagonistic qualities, which parallels the crasis of the humors in the body. This suggests an ‘elementary’ conception of musical grammar, analogous to the physics of elements and the medicine of the humors. The same elementary conception characterizes the ‘elements of musical grammar’ combined in the melody’s body. The theory of affects assumed by humanists, based on the heritage of the ancient theories, rests on the simple principle of imitation and correspondence: the transfer of forms across different domains. Renaissance theorists attribute the qualities of harmony to the soul and qualities of the soul to harmony. Thanks to this parallelism, the forms of expression of major passions, like anger or melancholy, encourage constant and easily traceable rhetorical expressions in the musical repertoire of Renaissance and Early Baroque music. In such a way, the theory of affects in music becomes an ensemble of objective criteria, a method and a series of shared rules.

Keywords:   Music, emotion, Ficino, humors, crasis, affect, Renaissance, Baroque

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