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'Una povera fanciulla Tedesca’: the dulcimer player in Filippo Bonanni’s Gabinetto armonico

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:24 authored by Jon Banks
Filippo Bonanni’s Gabinetto armonico (1722) was in its time the most extensive collection of musical iconography ever published. This article locates the work at the intersection of a number of traditions of representing music, including music treatises, cabinets of curiosities and virtual paper museums. Other non-musical sources with which Bonanni was clearly familiar are also taken into account, including travel writings and in particular the collection of Turkish costume illustrations published by Charles de Ferriol in 1714. This latter is proposed as a possible model for the unusual format of the Gabinetto, whereby each instrument is illustrated as part of a full-length portrait of a player. This procedure is wholly original in a book about music and its implications are explored in the reading of one particular image, that of a woman playing a dulcimer, which Bonanni calls ‘Salterio Tedesco’. The image is unusual first because the player is a woman and second because the accompanying text states that she was a poor vagrant, in marked distinction to other accounts of the instrument that stress its aristocratic and virtuosic nature. Bonanni’s claim that this person could be seen on the streets of Rome in his own time is unique in the Gabinetto and his credibility as an eye-witness is discussed, along with what his depiction reveals of his own attitude towards her.



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Early Music




Oxford University Press

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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)

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