Leon Chisholm

University of California - Berkeley

Blindness, composition, and the conceptualization of music in medieval and early modern Italy

2015-2016: Fall and Spring

I completed a Ph.D. in musicology at the University of California, Berkeley in the summer of 2015. I am broadly interested in how instrument playing and other everyday modes of experiencing music shape the ways in which musicians conceptualize music and influence the development of musical style. My dissertation, "Keyboard Playing and the Mechanization of Polyphony in Italian Music, Circa 1600," explores the emergence of a keyboard-centric paradigm of music in the late sixteenth century and its role in the development of the "concertato style" in the early decades of the seventeenth century. While at the Italian Academy, I will investigate the role of instruments in the compositional process of blind composers of polyphonic vocal music, particularly the Venetian harpsichordist Martino Pesenti (c.1600-c.1648).