Protée et Caméléon. Mimétismes, calembours harmoniques et dissociation des formes dans la musique de la Renaissance

Brenno Boccadoro


In the realm of language a special case of mimetic illusion is the calembour, where the sound of a phrase signifies something else than what is written. At the end of the XVI century the artistic expression of this phenomenon gave birth to the paintings of Arcimboldo, who separated the contour of an object form the linear organization of the surface, in order to feature another object, through a kind of “polyphonic” dissociation between meaning and form. Strangely enough, nothing has been written, in modern musicology, about the musical analogue of this phenomenon, but one can prove that it was not confined to paintings. The art of dissociating signs and meanings, was very well known by musicians not only through poetics, but also through musical mathematics, and above all by the study of the ancient Greek theory of metabolai, about the qualitative change of an harmonic form through the ambiguity created with others forms.


Mimesis ; Music ; Renaissance ; Calembour

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