Cory Gavito

Cory Gavito

Melville J Kahn Fellow
Guitar Song in Italy, 1580-1700


Cory M. Gavito (Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin, 2006) is Associate Professor of Musicology at Oklahoma City University. His work focuses on the cultural production of music scored for the voice and guitar in Italy during the seventeenth century, with particular emphasis on the collaborative modes of orality, writing, and printing that standardized this repertory. He has published in Recercare and the Journal of Musicology, and is currently finishing a critical edition of Giovanni Stefani's three Amorosi anthologies for voice and guitar (1618-1626) for A-R Editions. He is a former Newberry Library short-term fellow and the 2015 recipient of the Lauro de Bosis postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Project Summary

This project studies the material diffusion of songs published with guitar tablature in Italy from 1580-1700, with a focus on how guitar songbooks reflect practices on the margins of “textuality,” such as improvisation and performing from less descriptive forms of musical notation. Such practices invite readings that shift attention away from the “authors” of these texts and instead attend to their users and performers, which is only heightened by the commonplace format and pedagogical design of many guitar songbooks. Most guitar songs are published without attributions, and many of them circulate in slightly revised versions as they travel from source to source; thus, establishing a critical apparatus charting relationships among the guitar songbooks is foundational to my project. Not only do these relationships speak to a core repertory of guitar songs that circulated through written channels, but they also reveal a mobility that bears a palpable collaboration between script and orality. My project also takes stock of the critical anxieties leveled against the five-course Spanish guitar and its unique tablature system, alfabeto, from the sixteenth century to the present day. In measuring these concerns against the labor of printers, editors, compilers, singers, instrumentalists, and patrons who cultivated guitar song in early modern Italy – many of whom emerge with connections to Spain or Spanish Italy – my project investigates the factors that sustained the widespread popularity of this “intercultural” repertory during the course of the seventeenth century.