Friday, August 25, 2017

"Exotic" Tunes: Athanasius Kircher's Tarantellas (1641)

I. 

Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680; see Wikipedia; good introduction: Larsen 1989, at the Internet Archive), Jesuit from Germany, was one of the most famous and productive scholars of the 17th century. He has been called "The Last Man Who Knew Everything" (Findlen 2012) or the "Master of a Hundred Arts" (Reilly 1974), to quote the titles of two of the more recent works about him. Kircher wrote about numerous different topics, for example about China, Egyptology, medicine, geology, musicology and much more (see the list of his books at Roessler, Kircher; see also at the Internet Archive). 

I am interested here only in his work in one particular field. Kircher also happened to be among the first who made available popular tunes and songs of the people from Europe's cultural periphery. Today they would be called "folk-tunes". One may say that he could be regarded as one of the first folklorists or ethnomusicologists. I am referring of course to the famous tarantellas from the south of Italy, dance tunes that at that time were said to cure the bite of the tarantula. 

We can find them in his work about magnetism, Magnes Sive De Arte Magnetica Opus Tripartitum - first published in 1641 and then in new editions in 1643 and 1654 - as part of a chapter "De Tarantismo, sive Tarantula Apulo Phalangio, eiusque Magnetismo, ac mira cum Musica sympathia", an extensive scholarly discussion of what was called tarantism (see here 2nd ed. 1643, pp. 755-77). He offered eight tunes, some of them with texts, together with helpful notes (pp. 761-4, see the translation in Brewer 2011, pp. 2-9). 



II. 

But at first it is necessary to review the digital copies of this work. We have to find them which is not always that easy. Then we have to check if they are usable: are the scans complete and in good quality?. Not at least there is also the question if these digital copies are presented in a way that they can be used effectively? 

A good start is the above-mentioned list of digital copies of Kircher's books (Roessler, Kircher). Wikisource offers a links to scans of Kircher's publications with musical content including this one. To find more copies several search engines and catalogs are needed: KVK, Europeana, Google and Google Books, the Internet Archive and others. The result is once again very impressive. All in all I found more than 30 digital facsimiles of this work, eight of the 1st edition, nine of the 2nd and 14 of the third. Two thirds of them - twice as many as by all other libraries together - were produced by Google. This shows that they still rule the field. 

Athanasius Kircher, Magnes Sive De Arte Magnetica Opus Tripartitum, Scheus, Roma, 1641, here pp. 872-6 
dto., Editio Secunda, Kalcoven, Köln, 1643, here pp. 761-4 
 dto., Editio Tertia, Mascardi, Roma, 1654, here pp. 591-6 
It is good to have so many copies but as is known there are some serious problems with the quality of the Google-scans. Particularly troublesome is the fact that many of them are not complete. Everything that has a different format than the book itself has - in many cases - not been scanned correctly: fold-outs with maps, illustrations and music or other extras. This is not occasional sloppiness but a general problem that must always be taken into account. Therefore every Google Book needs to be checked for completeness. In this case - Kircher's books are lavish productions - it would be a very time-consuming task: how many illustrations and plates are missing? Were they already missing from the original copy or did they get lost during the scanning process? 

But I can't do this here and I only have checked if they are usable for my own purposes: at least the chapter about the tarantula including the musical examples should be complete. Surprisingly in nearly all copies it is. Only in two scans made from copies of the 2nd edition the plate with the "Antidotum Tarantulae" (after p. 762) is missing (UGent; BM Lyon). This seems to have happened during the scanning process. In another one (BSB) it is also missing but in this case it is a problem of the original book (see VD 17 23:255233C). In general most of the scans are better than expected. Of course some look a little uneven and some are still only in black & white but the pages I needed were there. But I don't doubt that a closer inspection would reveal other defects. 

The copies made available by other libraries also seem to be reliable but I think their online readers are not as good and effective as they should be. They are much slower and less flexible than those of Google Books and of the Internet Archive. The latter offers at the moment still the best possible reader and therefore I used as my working copy a scan of the 2nd edition - from the Boston College Library - that is available there. The Internet Archive's own scans are generally much more reliable than those by Google Books and usually I prefer them to all others. 


III. 

Tarantism, an exotic and strange custom from Europe's cultural periphery, used to be a favorite problem for scholars for a very long time. A wealth of relevant literature was produced over the last several centuries and it is still discussed today (see f. ex. the overviews in: Strasser 1984; Schedtler 1994; Arcangeli 2000, at academia.edu; Le Menthéour, 2009, at Michigan Publ.; Daboo 2010; Korenjak 2013; still useful; Bergsøe 1865, at Google Books; Büsching 1778, at UB Tübingen). It was known well before Kircher's publications. Perotti referred to the tarantula in his Cornucopiae seu Latinae Linguae Commentarii (1527, col. 51; see Becker 1836, col. 11) as did Spanish humanist Pedro Meija in his immensely popular Silva de varia lección (1540, see German ed., 1564, pp. cciiii). In England it was John Case who included a short remark in The Praise of Musicke (1586 [ESTC S115011], p. 56, at EEBO]: 
"Likewise in Apulia when anie man is bitten of the Tarrantula, which is a certain kinde of flie, verie venimous and full of daunger, they finde out the nature and sympathie of the sicknesse or humor, with playing on instrumentes, and with diuersitie of Musicke, neither doe they cease from playing, vntill the often motion and agitation, haue driuen the disease away".
This fable also found its way into literature. There is for example a reference in Sidney's Arcadia (1590, here 1598, p. 33): "This word, Louer, did not lesse pierce poor Pyrocles, than the right tune tune of musicke toucheth him that is sicke of the Tarantula". Italian physician Vincenzio Bruni dedicated one of his Tre dialoghi to this problem (Napoli, 1601, pp. 1-37). More names could be added. But it was Kircher who actually discussed it in detail, as a scientific case study in the context of his ideas about musical therapy. "Rather than offering rarefied speculations [...] Kircher focuses on the here-and-now, observing, scrutinizing, documenting" (Gioia, p. 118). 

Most important in this respect was that he made available the tunes and songs performed at these occasions. He hadn't collected them himself. Instead he relied on the information sent to him by two Jesuits who lived and worked in Apulia and who had witnessed cases of tarantism. Their names are given at the start of the chapter (2nd. ed., p. 756). There have been some doubts about the reliability of these notations. All except one of these tunes are in common time while all tarantellas collected later were in triple metre (see Daboo, p. 122). Perhaps these two padres didn't have enough experience with this kind of music or these tunes were really performed this way. 

Kircher offered all in all eight tunes. For some of them he added texts. He was able to comment on every one of them, gave some information about the instrumentation, the performance context and the effects. One of them - the only one in triple time - had been sent to him from Napoli as the "true tarantella". In this case he had some doubts but added it nonetheless. His theories about musical therapy and his discussion about tarantism are of course now completely outdated. But this collection of tunes and songs remains important as "a unique example of actual music from this historical moment" (Daboo, p. 122), a very fascinating documentation of the popular music of the people from the South of Italy. 

At that time not much music of this kind - "exotic" tunes either from the European periphery or from outside of Europe - was available (see my bibliography at Google Docs). Spanish musicologist Francisco Salinas had published popular tunes from Southern Europe in his De Musica Libri Septem (1577; see also Pedrell 1899). Some original music from the Americas had been made available by Jean de Lery (1585) and Marc Lescarbot (1617). One Turkish piece can be found in both Salomon Schweigger's, Newe Reyßbeschreibung (1608) and Kepler's Harmonices Mundi (1618). 

Most closely related to Kircher's work was a book published only several years earlier. Friedrich Menius had included three fragmentary tunes recorded from performances of Baltic peasants in his Syntagma de Origine Livonorum (1635, see the reprint in Scriptores Rerum Livonicarum II, 1848, p. 525; see Graf 1963). Menius (1593-1659), at that time professor of history in Dorpat, also offered these songs and tunes in the context of an academic treatise. He was interested in the origin of the non-German Baltic populations, also a very popular topic among scholars at that time (see now Donecker 2017, part. pp. 123-46). But he also added interesting and notes about the musical performances. These tunes are in fact the earliest available examples of the music of the Latvians and Estonians and it would take a long time - more than 140 years - until more was collected and published. 

Neither Kircher nor Menius were interested in these tunes and songs itself but only in their value as an historical source and as documentary evidence in the context of their treatise. Nonetheless both works can be seen as the symbolic starting-points for subsequent research into the popular music of the people from Europe's cultural periphery. At that time both the Baltic peasants and Kircher's Apulian taranti must have been as exotic and strange to the common European scholar as some newly discovered people on the other side of the world. Unfortunately Menius' innovative efforts were quickly forgotten and it would take more than 140 years until more Baltic tunes were collected and published. But Kircher's tarantellas always remained available and were reprinted regularly over the next centuries. 


IV. 

Kircher returned to this topic in two of his later publications, both musicological works:
  • Athanasius Kircher, Musurgia Universalis Sive Ars Magna Consoni Et Dissoni in X Libros Digesta, Grignani, Roma, 1650, II, pp. 221-4, at the Internet Archive: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 [= Google Books-UC Madrid: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2]; at Google Books: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 [= BSB], also at the Internet Archive: Vol. 2 
  • Athanasius Kircher, Philosophischer Extract und Auszug aus deß Welt-berühmten Teutschen Jesuiten Athanasii Kircheri von Fulda Musurgia Universali, in Sechs Bücher verfasset, Laidigen, Schwäbisch Hall, 1662, here pp. 179-87, at Google Books [= NBC]; at Google Books [= BSB] 
  • Athanasius Kircher, Phonurgia Nova Sive Conjugium Mechanico-physicum Artis & Naturae Paranympha Phonosophia, Dreher, Kempten, 1673, pp. 204-16, at the Internet Archive [= Google Books-BNC Roma]; at the Internet Archive [= Google Books-BSB] 
  • Athanasius Kircher, Neue Hall- und Thonkunst, oder Mechanische Geheim-Verbindung der Kunst und Natur, Durch Stimme und Hall-Wissenschaft gestiftet, In unsere Teutsche Sprache übersetzt von Agatho Carione, Schultes, Nördlingen, 1684, pp. 144-52, at Google Books [= BSB], also at the Internet Archive
In his Musurgia Universalis we can find a summary of this problem, but no musical examples. The German translation made Kircher's ideas also available to those who couldn't read Latin. I should add that this influential standard work (see Scharlau 1969) also included some remarks about non-European music (I., p  565; German ed. p. 151). Here he added two examples, one a fragmentary Chinese tune he had received from a Jesuit colleague who had been in China, the other the Turkish melody from Kepler's Harmonices Mundi

Kircher also wrote about tarantism in his Phonurgia Nova and here he offered his readers at least one of the tune originally published in the Magnes Sive De Arte Magnetica, the "Antidotum Tarantulae" (here pp. 209-10). He added a nice illustration of dancers and musicians (p. 206). Both the tune and the image can also be found in the German translation (p. 145 & p. 148). 


Other scholars also discussed this problem with reference to Kircher's work. Samuel Hafenreffer (1587-1660, see Wikipedia), physician and professor in Tübingen, did not invest much efforts but simply quoted most of Kircher's original text in his book about dermatology. We can find it here as part of the chapter about animal bites. He also reprinted all the music. But beware, this book has until now only been digitized by Google and in all five available copies the fold-out with the "Antidotum Tarantulae" (after p. 488) is either missing or mutilated: 
  • Samuel Hafenreffer, Nosodochium, In Quo Cutis, Eique Adhaerentium Partium, Affectus Omnes, Singulari Methodo, Et Cognoscendi et Curandi Fidelissime Traduntur, Ulm, 1660 , p. 475-520, at Google Books [= ÖNB]; at Google Books [= UofLausanne]; at Google Books [= UTorino]; at Google Books [= NB Napoli]; at Google Books [= BSB
The tarantula also earned an entry in Matthias Zimmermann's encyclopedia and he reprinted one of Kircher's tunes, the "Antidotum Tarantulae". But beware again, this scan, the only one available of this publication, is of very bad quality and barely usable. But at least we can see that a foldout with music was originally included: 
  • Matthiae Zimmermann, Florilegium Philologico-Historicum, Aliquot myriadum Titulorum, Cum Optimis Authoribus, qvi de qvavis Materia scripserunt, qvarum praecipuae curiose & ex professo tractantur, Adhibita re Nummaria & Gemmaria, Praemittitur Diatriba De Eruditione Eleganti Comparanda Cum Figuris, Parts II, Güntherus, Dresden & Meissen, 1689, here p. 757, at BSB [= GB] 
It seems that during the 18th century the tarantula and tarantism were referred to even more often. It was mentioned in literary works, for example by Jonathan Swift in his Tale of a Tub (1704, p. 203): "He was troubled with a Disease, reverse to that called the Stinging of the Tarantula, and would run Dog-mad at the Noise of Musick, especially a Pair of Bag-Pipes". Physicians discussed this topic in their treatises, like Giorgio Baglivi from Italy in his De Praxi Medica (1699, here Engl. ed., 1723, pp. 312-73) and Richard Mead from England in his Mechanical Account of Poisons (1702, here 1708, pp. 59-81). 

Travelers went to Apulia and reported what they saw, for example Johann Georg Keyßler (II, 1741, pp. 232-3) and Johann Hermann Riedesel (1771, pp. 250-9). But the original story - music as a cure for the bite - was more and more treated with suspicion and then debunked. German physician Ernst Gottfried Baldinger ridiculed it as a "Fabel" in an article in the Neues Magazin für Ärzte (1779, p. 143) and Anton Friedrich Büsching, geographer and jurist, found even harsher words in his Eigene Gedanken und gesammelte Nachrichten von der Tarantel (1779, at UB Tübingen), a collection of critical articles and documents. He regarded it all as a fraud. 

I will only list here those relevant publications that included some music. Among those was one that stood out: 
  • Georgius Vallerius, Exercitium Philosophicum de Tarantula, Quod Indultu Ampliss. Collegii Philosophici in Regia Upsaliensi Academia, Uppsala, 1702, at Google Books [= BL]; at the Internet Archive 
In this Swedish dissertation the author not only discussed Kircher's standard talking-points but also compared the Italian tarantellas with Swedish popular dances and songs and saw similarities (see also Arcangeli, p. 98). This may be regarded as a very early example of comparative ethnomusicology. Vallerius also reprinted several of Kircher's melodies and the frontispiece depicts two traveling musicians with drums and bagpipe performing an unidentified tune:


In Germany one or more of Kircher's tunes were included in a several books published during the first half of the century. It is interesting to see the many different contexts in which this topic was discussed: 
  • Germanus Adlerhold, Umständliche Beschreibung Des anjetzo Vom Krieg neu-bedrohten sonst herrlichen Königreich Neapolis, nach dessen bewunders-würdigen Natur-Gütern, Fruchtbarkeit, Flüssen, Seen, Meer-Busen, und Häfen [...]. Zusamt einer nachrichtlich-Alphabetischen Verzeichnus aller in denen zwölff Provincien dieses Reichs enthaltenen Städten und Vestungen ; Nebst vielen schönen Kupffern auch mit und ohne Land-Carten. Wobey eine Erzehlung was sich seit dem Tod Caroli II. in diesem Königreich begeben, Buggel, Nürnberg, 1702, pp. 239-60, at ÖNB [= GB]; at BSB [= GB
  • Michael Bernhard Valentini, Museum Museorum, oder Vollständige Schau-Bühne aller Materialien und Specereyen, nebst deren natürlichen Beschreibung, Election, Nutzen und Gebrauch. Aus andern Material-, Kunst und Naturalien-Kammern, Oost- und West-Indischen Reiß-Beschreibungen, Curiosen Zeit- und Tag-Registern, Natur- und Artzney-Kündigern, wie auch selbst-eigenen Erfahrung. Zum Vorschub der Studirenden Jugend, Materialisten, Apothecker und deren Visitatoren , wie auch anderer Künstler als Jubelirer, Mahler, Färber u.s.w. also verfasset, und mit etlich hundert sauberen Kupfferstücken unter Augen geleget. ZUnner, Frankfurt, 1704, pp. 514-6, at the Internet Archive 
  • Abraham Friedrich Krafft, Der Sowohl Menschen und Viehe Grausamen Thiere schädlichen Ungeziefers Und Verderblichen Gewürmer Gäntzliche Ausrottung: Oder vielmehr Ausführliche Unterweisung, Wie allerley Thiere, als reissende Wölffe, listige Füchse, wütende und rasende Hunde, Mader, Iltißen, Wieseln [...] gäntzlich auszurotten, zu vertilgen und zu vertreiben, Buggel, Nürnberg, 1709, pp. 344-67, music p. 362, at Google Books [= BSB
  • Georg Ernst Stahl, Praxis Stahliana, Das ist Collegium Practicum, Welches theils von Ihm privatim in die Feder dictirt, theils von seinen damahligen Auditoribus aus dem Discurs mit besonderem Fleiß nachgeschrieben, Nunmehrs aber aus dem Lateinischem ins Deutsche übersetzt, mit vielen Anmerckungen und Raisonnemens aus 29. jähriger Praxi bekräfftiget und erläutert, auch nach der Vorschrifft des Herrn Autoris bey dieser zweyten Auflage um viel vermehrt und verbessert zum Druck befürdert worden von Johann Storchen, alias Hulderico Pelargo, Eyssel, Leipzig, 1732, p. 31, at Google Books [= BSB]; also 3rd ed., 1745, p. 31, at ÖNB [= GB] 
  • Historische Nachricht von der Tarantula, und derselben Abbildung, in: Kern Anmuthiger und Zeit-kürtzender, Eines auserlesenen Vorraths curieuser und nützlich-gesammleter Wissenschafften und deren brauchbaresten Kunst-Stücke, 1. Sammlung, Funcke, Erfurt, 1745, pp. 283-7, at BSB
Adlerhold's book is description of the Kingdom of Napoli. The tarantula was what most readers presumably knew best about this area and therefore he couldn't avoid including a long chapter about this topic. Valentini (1657-1729; see Wikipedia), professor of medicine in Giessen, discussed the tarantula and the musical cure of its bite in his monumental medical compendium. Krafft in his book about animals regarded as vermin also felt it necessary to add a well researched chapter. All three used Kircher's "Anitidotum Tarantulae" as a musical example. 

Georg Ernst Stahl (1659-1734), professor of medicine in Halle, also reprinted this tune - he had taken it from Valentini's book - but he seems to have been quite skeptical about this story. He only mentioned it in passing in connection with some short remarks about music and medicine. Swiss "Küh-Reyhen" that were said to cure homesickness of soldiers from Switzerland served as another example. In Funcke's Kern Anmutigher Wissenschaften, a popular scientific periodical, the old stories about the tarantula and the tarantella were recycled once again more or less uncritically and here we can also find the same tune. 

Shortly later a different tune was made available in an article published by an English magazine:
  • Stephen Storace [i. e. Stefano Storace], A genuine Letter from an Italian Gentleman, concerning the Bite of the Tarantula, in: The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle 23, 1753, pp. 433-4, at Google Books 
One Steven Storace , i. e. Stefano Storace (1725-1781, see Wikipedia), an Italian musician who later moved to Britain - his son of the same name would become a popular composer there - claimed to have come across someone bitten by the tarantula. He learned the tune on the spot, played it for him and helped him to recover (see also Gioielli 2008). This article was translated into German the following year and his tune reappeared later in several other publications, for example a Viennese dissertation and Tans'ur's influential Elements of Musick
  • Ein ächter Brief von einem italienischen Herrn über den Biß der Tarantul. Aus dem Gentleman's Magazine for Sept. 1753, in: Hamburgisches Magazin, oder, Gesammlete Schriften, aus der und den angenehmen Wissenschaften überhaupt 13.1, 1754, pp. 1-8, at the Internet Archive [= BHL] 
  • Johann Baptist Mathias Schwarz, Dissertatio Inauguralis Medica De Tarantismo Et Chorea Viti, Wien, 1766, at Google Books 
  • William Tans'ur, The Elements of Musick Display'd. Or, Its Grammar, or Ground-Work Made Easy, Rudimental, Practical, Philosophical, Historical, and Technical. In Five Books, Crowder, London, 1772 [ESTC T153927], pp. 217-20, at the Internet Archive 

One more tune from Apulia was made available by English traveler and scholar Thomas Shaw (1694-1751; see DNB 51, p. 446, at wikisource) in the second edition of his popular and influential book about his Travels in the Middle East. In a short chapter about scorpions and phalangiae he couldn't resist referring to the tarantula and the dance "to obtain [...] copious perspiration". In a note one tune is printed. I haven't seen it in an earlier publication so I assume Shaw had heard and noted it himself. There is no mention of Kircher's work but only of Italian botanist and physician Mattioli's commentary on Dioscorides (1554, here 1565, p. 362), another early reference to this phenomenon:
  • Thomas Shaw, Travels or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant. Illustrated with Cuts. The Second Edition, with Great Improvements, Millar, London, 1757 [ESTC T114688], p. 191, n.9, at the Internet Archive 
Occasionally also a musicologist expressed his opinion about this topic. Jacob Adlung (1699-1762) wasn't fond of the "Antidotum tarantulae" and quipped that it sounded so miserable that one gets sick rather than healthy from it. He only included one half of this melody which he had found in Kircher's Phonurgia Nova thinking it was the second of two tunes: 
  • Jacob Adlung, Anleitung zu der musikalischen Gelahrtheit, theils vor alle Gelehrte, so das Band aller Wissenschaften einsehen; theils vor die Liebhaber der edlen Tonkunst überhaupt [...], Jungnicol, Erfurt, 1758, pp. 57-8, Tab 1.1, at the Internet Archive [= Oberlin] 
All of Kircher's tune were later made available once again in a German dissertation about the human ear: 
  • Christian Ernst Wünsch, De Auris Humanae Proprietatibus Et Vitiis Quibusdam, Leipzig, 1777, pp. 38-43, at Google Books [= BSB] 
A decade later six more tarantellas were included in a Spanish publication: 
  • Francisco Javier Cid, Tarantismo observado en España, con que se prueba el de la pulla, dudado de algunos, y tratado de otros de fabuloso, Gonzalez, Madrid, 1787, here after p. 14, at the Internet Archive 


V. 

After the turn of century tarantellas began to appear in collections of national airs. Edward Jones, Welsh harper and editor of a series of anthologies dedicated to foreign tunes (for more about Jones see my article in this blog), once again revived Kircher's "Antidotum Tarantulae" but his source was Zimmermann's Florilegium Philologico-Historicum. He also added some variations: 
  • Edward Jones, Maltese Melodies; Or National Airs, And Dances, usually performed by the Maltese Musicians at their Carnival & other Festivals; with a few other characteristic Italian Airs & Songs; To these are annex'd a selection of Norwegian Tunes, never before Published; and to which are added Basses for the Harp or Piano-Forte, London, n. d. [1807], pp. 38-9, at the Internet Archive 
Among the more important publication dedicated to this topic was surely Justus Hecker's influential book about dancing manias. This work was translated into English and other languages. Hecker (1795-1850), historian and physician, reprinted all of Kircher's tunes and made them available for a new generation of readers: 
  • J. F. C. Hecker, Die Tanzwuth, eine Volkskrankheit im Mittelalter. Nach den Quellen für Aerzte und gebildete Nichtärzte bearbeitet, Enslin, Berlin, 1832, pp. 26-54, tunes: pp. 89-92
  • J. F. C. Hecker, The Epidemics of the Middle Ages, London, 1844, pp. 107-133, tunes: pp. 167-74, at the Internet Archive 
At this time the tarantella had already been adopted by modern composers and a lot of new pieces were composed and published. Nearly 400 relevant publications were announced between 1829 and 1900 in Hofmeisters Monatsberichten (at Hofmeister XIX). Many travelers went to Apulia and witnessed local performances of tarantellas. Goethe made it there during the 1780s but his short report was only published much later, in 1810 (pp. 110-2; see Assel & Jäger at Goethezeitportal). Others brought back tarantella tunes they had heard there, like Gustav Parthey (I, 1834, App., No. V, p. 6) and Karl August Mayer (I, 1840, pp. 387-8, see also pp. 366-73). But the old tunes were also republished and remained available, for example in a history of dancing:
  • Albert Czerwinski, Geschichte der Tanzkunst bei den cultivierten Völkern von den ersten Anfängen bis auf die gegenwärtige Zeit, Weber, Leipzig, 1862, pp. 54-7, at Google Books 
Of course some of the experts for national airs and Volkslieder also weighed in. Danish composer Berggreen included nine tarantellas in his comprehensive anthology of international Folke-Sange. Eight of them (No. 90-96) were modern pieces from different sources, for example Parthey's book and several Italian collections. As an example of the older style he revived Storace's tune (No. 97). But of course he was familiar with the historical development of the genre and in his notes also referred to Kircher: 
  • A. P. Berggreen, Italienske, Spanske og Portugisiske Folke-Sange og Melodier, Samlade og Udsatte for Pianoforte, Anden, Meget Forogode Udgave (= Folke-Sange og Melodier, Fædrelandske og Fremmede 7, Anden Utgave), C. A. Reitzel, Köbenhavn, 1866, here No. 97, p. 129 , also notes, p. 246, pp. 251-2 
I will close with two musical encyclopedias from the latter part of the 19th century. In both of them we find informative summaries of this topic. One or more of Kircher's tunes were reprinted and once again made available to those interested in the history of this genre. 
  • Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon. Eine Encyklopädie der gbesammten musikalischen Wissenschaften. Für Gebildete aller Stände, begründet von Hermann Mendel. Fortgesetzt von Dr. August Reissmann, Bd. 10, Oppenheim, Berlin, 1878, pp. 104-108, at the Internet Archive 
  • A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (A. D. 1450-1889). By Eminent Writers, English and Foreign. With Illustrations and Woodcuts. Ed. by Sir George Grove. In Four Volumes. Vol. IV, MacMillan, London & New York, 1889 , pp. 58-9 
During the 20th century these tunes were also regularly published again. For example the original plate with the "Antidotum Tarantulae" appeared as the frontispiece in a Handbook of Medical Entomology (1915, p. ii). We can find them in musicological works and other academic publications discussing tarantism. Some of Kircher's tarantellas were recorded. Today they are of course available on YouTube (see f. ex. here). Now these melodies have a consecutive history of more than 350 years. They have made it in to the modern world even though Kircher's own theories are long out-dated.


Literature 
  • Alessandro Arcangeli, Dance between disease and cure: the tarantella and the physician, in: Ludica. Annali di Storia e Civilà del Gioco 5-6, 2000, pp. 88-102, at Academia.edu 
  • Jutta Assel & Georg Jäger, Goethes Italienische Reise - Neapel: Volksleben Folge 3: Tarantella (Italiensehnsucht Deutscher Künstler der Goethezeit), 2015/16, at Goethezeitportal  
  • Giorgio Baglivi, The Practice of Physick, Reduc'd to the ancient Way of Observations Containing a just Parallel between the Wisdom and Experience of the Ancients, And the Hypothesis's ogf Modern Physicians, Intermix'd with many Practical Remarks upon most Distempers. The Second Edition, Midwinter etc., London 1723 [ESTC N9783], at the Internet Archive 
  • Philip V. Bohlman, Representation and Cultural Critique in the History of Ethnomusicology, in: Bruno Nettl & Philip V. Bohlman (eds.), Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music. Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology, Chicago & London, 1991, pp. 131-51 
  • Karlis Brambats, Ein frühes Zeugnis livländischen Singens, in: Musik des Ostens 8, 1982, pp. 9-29
  • Carl Ferdinand Becker, Systematisch-Chronologische Darstellung der musikalischen Literatur von der frühesten bis auf die neueste Zeit, Friese, Leipzig, 1836, at the Internet Archive [= GB
  • V. Bergsøe, Iagttagelser om den italianske Tarantel og Bidrag til Tarantiesmens Historien i Middelalderen og nyere Tid, in: Naturhistorisk Tidsskrift 3.2, 1865, pp. 239-299, at Google Books
  • Charles E. Brewer, The Instrumental Music of Schmeltzer, Biber, Muffat and their Contemporaries, Abingdon & New York, 2011 (see Google Books
  • Anton Friedrich Büsching, Eigene Gedanken und gesammelte Nachrichten von der Tarantel, Berlin, 1778, at UB Tübingen 
  • Jerri Daboo, Ritual, Rapture and Remorse. A Study in Tarantism and Pizzica in Salento, Bern etc, 2010 
  • Stefan Donecker, Origines Livonorum. Frühneuzeitliche Hypothesen zur Herkunft der Esten und Letten, Köln etc, 2017
    Paula Findlen (ed.), Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything, New York & London, 2004  
  • Walter Graf, Die ältesten deutschen Überlieferungen estnischer Volkslieder, in: Musik des Ostens 1, 1963, pp. 83-105 
  • Johann Georg Keyßler, Neueste Reise durch Teutschland, Böhmen, Ungarn, die Schweitz, Italien, und Lothringen, worinn der Zustand und das merckwürdigste dieser Länder beschrieben wird. Mit Kupfern, Försters und Sohns Erben, Hannover, 1740-1, 3 Bde., at BSB [= GB] 
  • Mauro Gioielli, Il tarantismo campano in una lettera di metà settecento, in: Utriculus. Bollettino trimestrale dell’Associazione Culturale “Circolo della Zampogna” di Scapoli 22, No. 46, April-June 2008, pp. 29-33, at maurogioielli.net 
  • Ted Gioia, Healing Songs, Durham & London, 2006 
  • Andrea Korenjak, Musik und rituelle Heilung am Beispiel des Tarantismus - Historische, ethnologische und psychologische Reflexionen, in: Jacob A. v. Belzen (ed.), Musik und Religion. Psychologische Zugänge, Wiebaden, 2013, pp. 125-164 
  • A. Dean Larsen (ed.), Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680). Jesuit Scholar. An Exhibition of his Works in the Harold B. Lee Library Collections at Brigham Young University. Introduction and Descriptions by Brian L. Merrill, Provo, 1989, at the Internet Archive [= BYU] 
  • Rudy Le Menthéour, The Tarantula, the Physician, and Rousseau: The Eighteenth-Century Etiology of an Italian Sting, in: Proceedings of the Western Society for French History 37, 2009, pp. 35-47 , at Michigan Publishing 
  • P. Conor Reilly, Athansius Kircher, S. J.: Master of a Hundred Arts, 1602-1680, Wiesbaden, 1974 (= Studia Kircheriana 1) 
  • Karl August Mayer, Neapel und die Neapolitaner, oder Briefe aus Neapel in die Heimat, Schulze, Oldenburg, 1840 & 1842, 2 Bde., at the Internet Archive [= GRI] 
  • Richard Mead, A Mechanical Account of Poisons in Several Essays. The Second Edition, Revised, with Additions, Smith, London, 1708 [ESTC T55004], at the Internet Archive 
  • Friedrich Menius, Syntagma de Origine Livonorum, Dorpat, 1635 (not yet digitized; reprinted in: Scriptores Rerum Livonicarum II, Riga & Leipzig, 1848, pp. 511-42, at the Internet Archive) 
  • Gustav Parthey, Wanderungen durch Sicilien und die Levante, 2 Bde. & Anhang, Nicolai, Berlin, 1834 & 1840, at the Internet Archive 
  • Felipe Pedrell, Folk-lore musical castillan du XVI. siècle, in: Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft 1, 1899-1900, pp. 372-400 (Internet Archive
  • Johann Hermann Riedesel, Reise durch Sicilien und Großgriechenland, Orell etc, Zürich,. 1771, at the Internet Archive 
  • Hole Rößler, Athanasius Kircher: Forschungsbibliographie & Werke im Internet , at holeroessler.de 
  • Ulf Scharlau, Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680) als Musikschriftsteller. Ein Beitrag zur Musikanschauung des Barock, Phil. Diss., Marburg, 1969, (= Studien zur hessischen Musikgeschichte 2) 
  • Susanne Schedtler, Musiktherapeutische Aspekte der Tarantella in Geschichte und Gegenwart. In: Jahrbuch für musikalische Volks- und Völkerkunde Band 15, 1994, 181-221 
  • Gerhard F. Strasser, 'Wie von der Tarantel gebissen': Tarantismus und Musiktherapie im Barock, in: Martin Bircher et al. (eds.), Barocker Lustspiegel. Studien zur Literatur des Barock. Festschrift für Blake Lee Spahr, Amsterdam, 1984 (= Chloe. Beihefte zum Daphnis 3), pp. 245-64

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Gustav Parthey's Remarks about Sicilian and Egyptian Music in his Wanderungen (1834/40)


In the previous article I have discussed an interesting addition to my bibliography of "exotic" tunes in European publications from the 16th to the 19th century (see here in my blog and the bibliography at GoogleDocs): a few Bedouin tunes the Finnish orientalist G. A. Wallin's collected during the 1840s.

Two decades earlier young German scholar Gustav Parthey had traveled to the Mediterranean and to Egypt and he also brought back some music: tunes from Sicily, Malta and Egypt. They later appeared in his travelogue which is worth rediscovering not only because of his own contribution to this field but also because he reprinted some formerly unpublished tunes and notes by a famous traveler of the previous century: 
  • Gustav Parthey, Wanderungen durch Sicilien und die Levante, 1. Theil. Wanderungen durch Sicilien und Malta, Nicolai, Berlin, 1834, here Musikbeilage 
  • Gustav Parthey, Wanderungen durch Sicilien und die Levante, 2. Theil: Wanderungen durch das Nilthal, Nicolai, Berlin, 1840 
  • Gustav Parthey, Wanderungen durch Sicilien und die Levante. Anhang zum zweiten Theil der Wanderungen durch Sicilien und die Levante, Nicolai, Berlin, 1840, pp. 15-20,
    all at the Internet Archive 
Gustav Parthey (1798-1872; see Wikipedia; see ADB 25, 1887, pp. 189-91, at wikisource), German art historian, Egyptologist and philologist - he was the grandson of Friedrich Nicolai (1733-1811), the influential publisher, writer and critic, a key figure of literary enlightenment - studied in Berlin and Heidelberg. After his dissertation in 1820 he went on an extended journey through Europe and to the Mediterranean and also the Levant. Especially Egypt and the Holy Land used to be popular travel destinations for German intellectuals (see f. ex. Goren 2003; Amin 2013) . 

He returned in 1824 and soon became director of the Nicolaische Buchhandlung, the publishing house founded by his grandfather. Parthey also made himself a name as a private scholar. Among his publications were a dictionary of Coptic language, a geography of old Egypt and catalogs of modern and antique works of art (see wikisource). Later he moved to Italy and died in Rome. 

His travel report appeared in two parts, first a volume about Sicily and Malta in 1834 and then in 1840 the second one about his time in Egypt. An extra volume with a map, illustrations, astronomical observations by the one of his companions, the astronomer and mathematician Johann Heinrich Westphal, a small Nubian dictionary and a chapter about music was published as a supplement. 

Parthey's account of his travels is well written and still very pleasant to read. He was mostly interested in the antiquities and offered good summaries of the history of the places he visited. But he also happened to be a good and sympathetic observer who showed some genuine interest in the people he met, their culture and their everyday life. 

In the volume about Sicily and Malta we can find some helpful and valuable remarks about the music he heard (see pp. 27-8, 93-4, 124, 140, 143-4). For example he discussed the legendary Sicilian poet Giovanni Meli (1740-1815, see Wikipedia), a name not unknown in Germany. His songs were still popular among the people and sung all over Sicily (pp. 45-48). 

The Musikbeilage offered a collection of 21 songs and tunes mostly from Sicily and Malta that he had recorded from oral tradition - "dem Volke abgehorcht" -, among them some of Meli's together with the melodies they were sung to as well as songs apparently imported from Tyrol and France (Nos. IV & XII). Of course he couldn't resist including a tarantella from Apulia (No. V). 


The volume about Egypt also includes a number of short and often casual remarks about musical performances he witnessed (f. ex. pp. 63, 91, 186, 203, 208-9, 280, 294, 560-2). But more important and informative are a chapter about music as well as 21 tunes and songs that can be found in the extra volume, the Anhang zum zweiten Theil (here pp. 15-20). It is obvious that Parthey was not particularly impressed with what he had heard there. In fact he sounds very disappointed: 
"Die Armuth des heutigen Orients an edleren geistigen Genüssen zeigt sich auch in der Musik [...] Man findet im Orient weder eine wissenschaftliche noch eine praktische Ausbildung der Musik, einen zwei- oder mehrstimmigen Gesang hört man nirgends, die Notenschrift ist gänzlich unbekannt, von Generalbass oder Kontrapunkt hat niemand einen Begriff [...]" (p. 15). 
This was a not uncommon attitude for travelers from Europe. But nonetheless he collected some tunes (Nos. I-VI), for example a song of Nubian sailor, a Nubian variant of the popular tune "Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre" as well as a "lament of an Arabian girl whose lover was conscripted by the Pasha. She wants to go to him but her mother holds her back with beatings" (see p. 15). He also noted that these melodies were difficult to transcribe "weil die Araber und Nubier, ausser den halben, auch Drittel-Töne haben, woran ein europäisches Ohr sich schwer gewöhnt". 


But apparently Dr. Parthey wasn't really satisfied with what he had heard and noted. Therefore he made available some more tunes collected eight decades earlier by the famous Carsten Niebuhr. His grandfather Friedrich Nicolai used to conduct correspondences with numerous contemporaries. Among them was Niebuhr (1733-1815, see Wikipedia; a good introduction: Wiesehöfer & Conerman 2002), who between 1774 and 1780 had sent several letters to Nicolai where he discussed Arabian music and also included a number of melodies (see Kalliope). 

Niebuhr, a German engineer in duty of the Danish king, started his journey to Arabia, India and Persia in 1760 together with five companians. In 1767 he returned as the only survivor. The first two volumes of his famous Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und anderen umliegenden Ländern appeared in 1774 and 1778. This would become one of the most important and widely read travel books of the 18th century and it was quickly translated into other languages. 

Unlike many other travelers Niebuhr was also a trained musician. He played the violin and even performed there for the locals. He also tried to keep his ears open and listened to what he heard. In his Reisebeschreibung we can find a chapter about "Leibesübungen und Zeitvertreib der Morgenländer bey müssigen Stunden" and here he wrote a little bit about music (I, pp. 175-182, at the Internet Archive). But, just like Parthey eight decades later and just like other visitors in the meantime, he was more or less disappointed and mostly critical. Particularly valuable were Niebuhr's descriptions of musical instruments (see Pl. XVI, at UB Kiel). He was also able to transcribe tunes he had heard. For some reason he only included one single melody in his work (dto., E)

Parthey had access to his grandfather's estate and reprinted nearly all the unpublished tunes from the correspondence as well as the relevant parts from six of the letters Niebuhr had written for Nicolai: they offer explanations and notes about these tunes and Arabian music in general. First there is the original, uncorrected version of the tune published in the Reisebeschreibung (No. VII). Then there are five tunes identified by Niebuhr as Greek (12.3.1775) - perhaps these were "Oriental melodies" performed for him by a Greek musician that he referred to in an earlier letter (30.9.1774) - as well as three Arabian and Egyptian tunes, among the a sailor's song he had heard on a ship (Nos. XIV-XII; 12.3.1775). This of course isn't much but there is so little Arabian music available from that time that even the fragmentary pieces recorded by Niebuhr may count as a major addition. 

The rest are tunes from other publications. The music of the dervishes of the mosque in Pera (Nos. XVIII-XX) was of course taken from Ferriol's Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant (1715, p. 16) but Niebuhr had some doubts about its authenticity. One part he claimed he had heard himself but another one didn't sound "morgenländisch" to him (18.4.1775).

He also referred Nicolai to a new Danish publication, Georg Höst's Efterretninger om Marokos og Fes, samlede der i Landene fra ao. 1760 til 1768 (1779). Höst (1734-1794; see Dansk Biografiskt Leksikon) had spent most of the 1760s in Morocco, first working for the short-lived Danish-African Company and then as vice-consul. Encouraged by Niebuhr he wrote his own report about his time there which also included a chapter about music as well a generous amount of tunes (pp. 241-6, plate No. 32). Niebuhr sent some of thm to Nicolai even before the book was published (here only No. XXI). In the last letter reprinted he even translated some relevant parts of this chapter for Nicolai (3.4.1777, 20.3.1780). 

Taken together both Niebuhr's tunes and comments as well as those by Parthey himself eight decades later offer interesting insights into how non-European - here Arabian - music was experienced and judged by European scholars (see also Lebedeva 2011 & Harbert 2008). Both showed a remarkable openness and were willing to listen but in the end they were mostly disappointed about what they heard. Their attitudes - particularly the cultural bias - were still very similar even though in the meantime major treatises about Arabian music - particularly Villoteau's work (1809) - had been published. Nonetheless the tunes they have collected - no matter how their authenticity in a modern sense may be judged - and their often casual descriptions of musical performances and performance contexts are still valuable historical sources. 

Literature 
  • Abbas Amin, Ägyptomanie und Orientalismus. Ägypten in der deutschen Reiseliteratur (1175-1663). Mit einem kommentierten Verzeichnis der Reiseberichte (383-1845), Berlin, 2013 
  • [Charles Ferriol], Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant, tirée sur les Tableaux peints d'apres Nature en 1707 et 1708 par les ordres de M. de Ferriol, Ambassador du Roi a la Porte. Et gravées en 1712 et 1713 pat les soins de Mr. Le Hay, Le Hay, Duchange, Paris, 1715, p. 16, at Gallica Bnf & the Internet Archive
  • Haim Goren, "Zieht hin und erforscht das Land". Die deutsche Palästinaforschung im 19. Jahrhundert, Göttingen, 2003 
  • Benjamin J. Harbert, Of Their Knowledge in Musick: Early European Musical Encounters in Egypt and the Levant as Read within the Emerging British Public Sphere, 1687-1811, in: Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology 13, 2008, at Ethnomusicology Review
  • Georg Höst (i. e. Høst), Efterretninger om Marokos og Fes, samlede der i Landene fra ao. 1760 til 1768, N. Müller, Kiøbenhavn, 1779, pp. 241-6, plate No. 32 (at the Internet Archive) 
  • Carsten Niebuhrs Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und anderen umliegenden Ländern, 2 Vols., Möller, Kopenhagen, 1774-8, at UB Kiel & UB Heidelberg, here Vol. 1, pp. 175-182 & plate No. 26 (there are also several GB-scans, for example this one at the Internet Archive , but the plates are never correctly scanned). 
  • M. Villoteau, De l'État Actuel de l'Art Musical en Égypte. On Relation historique est descriptive des Recherches est Observations faites sur la Musique en ce pays, in: Description de l'Égypte, ou, Recueil des Observations et des Recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'Éxpédition de l'Armée Française. État Moderne, Vol. 1, De L'Imprimerie Royale, Paris, 1809, pp. 607-846, available at the Internet Archive & at World Digital Library 
  • Josef Wiesehöfer & Stephan Conermann (eds.), Carsten Niebuhr (1733-1815) und seine Zeit. Beiträge eines interdisziplinären Symposiums vom 7.-10. Oktober 1999 in Eutin, Wiesbaden, 2002