Vol. XXIX – p. 53

Biancamaria Brumana
Percorsi musicali della devozione: graffiti del Cinquecento in un ciclo pittorico della Pinacoteca Comunale di Assisi e le loro concordanze

Abstract: Musicians of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance left many traces of their presence in places of worship through markings on choirs, organs, choir stalls, and paintings. The genre of musical graffiti is, however, extremely rare. The present article focusses on a handful of graffiti contained within a fresco cycle from the chapel of S. Maria delle Grazie of Castello di S. Gregorio near Assisi (today Pinacoteca Comunale in Assisi). Concordances for the monophonic tune sketched therein spread over a period ranging from the fifteenth to the early seventeenth century. They arguably further relate to other graffiti, manuscripts, prints and paintings: a graffito in S. Matteo degli Armeni in Perugia; two pieces in MS 431 (G 20) of the Biblioteca Augusta in Perugia; a graffito in the Cappella Sistina in Roma; Giovanni Battista Caporali’s altarpiece from the church of S. Girolamo in Perugia; the frontispiece of the same artist’s annotated edition of Vitruvio’s De architectura; MS R197 of the Syddansk Universitatsbibliotek in Odense (Denmark); Lodovico Zacconi’s Canoni musicali (MS 559 of the Biblioteca Oliveriana in Pesaro). The geographical area which this evidence covers—from Perugia to Assisi and even the Sistine Chapel in Rome—suggests that this tune, apparently well known, had accompanied the musical ways of devotion, probably within a mainly Franciscan context. Due to the intrinsic difficulties of legibility, however, it is highly questionable that such notations might have been extemporized in situ in concrete musical performances.