Leon Chisholm

Dissertation Fellow
2012-2013
Image of Leon Chisholm.

In Keyboard Instruments and Musical Knowledge in northern Italy, c.1550-1650, Leon Chisholm (Music) examines the way in which keyboard instruments—and more precisely, the embodied music knowledge shaped by them—underpinned key developments in music theory and composition in the Renaissance. Reversing a longstanding bias in the study of early modern music that views instrumental music as the offspring of vocal music, his dissertation argues that new styles of vocal composition in the sixteenth century were contingent upon keyboard playing. This argument relies on Mr. Chisholm’s key insight that historical musicology’s neglect of instruments—music’s most essential technologies—is due in part to the tendency to divorce texts and ideas from material culture.