It's been five long years but, thanks to a generous grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, I just got back from an archival research trip in Venice.
I stayed at one of my favorite places on earth, the residence at the Giorgio Cini Foundation on San Giorgio Maggiore. I love Venice but so do about eleventy billion tourists during the summer, so it's really nice to retreat to a quiet island at the end of the day.
Like most experiences in the archives, it was a mixed bag; some of the information I found I had expected to find, some of the sources I was most excited to see didn't yield anything useful (at least for now), and then there were the occasional unexpected finds that gave me the energy to keep leafing through the manuscripts.
The main goal of this trip was to expand the number and types of sources that name musicians to include in my network graphs. As I mentioned in previous posts, the documents I used in my original graph were all payment records. Since they were purely transactional it offered a very limited view of relationships among musicians. To contextualize these records I was looking for things like tourist guides, libretti, periodicals, and wills and testaments.
The wills are in the Notarile-Testimenti fond of the Venetian State Archives. I learned that locating musicians' wills - or the wills of any specific individual - is not a straightforward process since they are organized by the notary that prepared them rather than the person leaving the testament. So unless you know who the notary was (which you might be able to track down if you also knew the parish in which the individual died) there's a lot of sifting through documents without results. There is a catalog of wills of select individual in the reading room of the ASV, but it's extremely hit-or-miss.
I had a couple of leads in locating musicians' wills; a 2007 article by Luigi Collarile cites Natale Monferrato's will as does a 2010 article by Jonathan Brennan along with that of Giovannie Rovetta. I located both of these documents and looked through the indices for the notaries, and found two other wills for random people labeled "musico" in the index. It's a start! Plus, I learned some valuable lessons about tracking down these kinds of documents.
I had the chance to look at a lot of oratorio libretti at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana and at the theater studies library at the Casa Goldoni. Occasionally the libretti will list which singer sang which role or perhaps name musicians in the dedication. When I came across these names I would have to stop myself from doing a happy dance in the reading room.
I photographed some administrative records for a confraternity I want to know more about. I also started looking through a fond of avvisi (news sheets) at the Venetian State Archives, which Eleanor Selfridge-Field describes in her 1985 book: Pallade veneta: Writings on Music in Venetian Society, 1650-1750. I found some mentions of music in the city that I'm really excited about but, unfortunately, I had to head home before combing through the entire collection. I'll be back January though with a long list of things I want to look at. A presto, Venezia!
If you have the time, I would appreciate your feedback on the MIV project. Let me know how the site can better serve your research in the survey below.
In February 2018 I participated in the “Power of Musical Networks” Seminar at the Orpheus Instituut in Ghent, Belgium. Sadly, my teaching schedule and modest travel budget kept me from making the trip, but the seminar organizers were kind enough to let me present remotely like I did for the Newcastle conference.
I was scheduled to present at 9:30 in the morning Belgium time, which was 3:30 am where I live in Bloomington, Indiana. Presenting remotely always feels a bit strange, but it was especially weird to get up in the middle of the night, put on conference attire, talk to a bunch of strangers through my laptop, and then go back to bed. My 10-month old still wasn’t consistently sleeping through the night so, luckily, I was already conditioned for this. Still, the next morning I had an odd feeling that I had dreamt the whole thing.
The seminar was worth the grogginess, of course. One of the cooler things about getting into DH is learning about the different music and interdisciplinary institutes that foster new approaches in research with workshops and resources. The Orpheus Instituut definitely does that.
For this presentation I created a couple of mockups in Cytoscape of unimodal and bimodal networks. In my dissertation network graph, the original archival text appears in the graph as a node attribute. This worked well for the bimodal network since the documents indicated relationships between institutions and the individuals they employed.
I’m working on demonstrating relationships between people in a unimodal network, which would make the original source text is instead an edge attribute, which presents its own set of practical challenges.
In this very very crude mockup I have Legrenzi and two other musicians with documented relationships with him: Giovanni Francesco Pattavino Carlo Pallavicino. Pattavino was included in Legrenzi’s will, and Legrenzi conducted the choir for Pallavicino’s funeral in 1688. These two musicians clearly affected Legrenzi’s career but, since they were not mentioned in the specific documents I analyzed for my dissertation, they are not in the graph.
Unimodal graph mockup using Cytoscape
I’m having issues with creating side bar windows for edge attributes. This seems to be beyond the “out of the box” functionality of the Gephis export plugin.
For the other mockup I created another bimodal network graph linking the musicians named in four different tourist guides published between 1663 and 1700, linking them with the institutions the associated with them in the guides.
And then added the data from my other research that links musicians to institutions not in this graph.
Layering information from these two kinds of sources contextualizes the more public-facing marketing materials within the larger scope of a musician’s career. It also links institutions that would otherwise seem insular. This is obviously a very small sample, but it demonstrates how documents can potentially create layers of connectivity between musicians during these cultural shifts.
I got to workshop approaches to multilayer networks and mapping my data for the “Digital Matters in Medieval and Renaissance Studies” symposium at Duke University. This was specifically a DH symposium, so I got to learn more about research methodologies and resources.
There were really engaging plenaries by Cheryl Ball from Wayne State and Vaughn Stewart from UNC Greensboro, and I got to hear more about the spectacular Visualizing Venice initiative. Plus, I got to be on a panel with Anne MacNeil, who talked about the cool things happening with IDEA: Isabella d’Este Archive.
For this presentation (IRL this time) I created a map in ArcGis, using the same georeferenced 1729 map of Venice that I used in my Carto map. Focusing on the same tourist guides as for the Newcastle conference, I assigned a different layer to each of the documents to see how the guides highlight different institutions in the city.
I also created layer a layer for events from the Venetian liturgical calendar, using information from the Protogiornale Veneto, which was a subsection of Coronelli’s Guida from 1700.
This layering approach is one of my primary concerns in building the public facing graph. I’ll be focusing on this as I prepare for upcoming presentations at the GHI meeting in D.C. and AMS in San Antonio.
Thanks for reading! More updates coming soon.
I was really fortunate to participate in several interdisciplinary conferences this past spring. In February I presented at the “Mapping the Musical City” Symposium, organized by Newcastle University and the Institute of Musical Research at the University of London and at the “Power of Musical Networks” Seminarat the Orpheus Instituut in Ghent, Belgium. In April I attended the “Digital Matters in Medieval and Renaissance Studies”Symposium at Duke University.
Right now, I’m focusing on visualizing Venetian musicians’ networks based on tourist guides publishing the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. For each of these conferences I got to experiment with different mapping and graphing platforms that demonstrate these connections in various ways.
Rather than highlighting the individual musicians’ experience, as in the payment records, tourist guides provide other individuals’ interpretations of Venetian musical culture, often for the benefit of foreign visitors.
Venetia città nobilissima et singolare
Original edition by Francesco Sansovino in 1561.
Updated edition by Giustinian Martinioni in 1663.
For the Newcastle symposium I created a map in Carto. [Available Here]To create the base map, I used a high-res download of Ludovico Ughi’s 1729 map of Venice (available on Wikimedia commons)and geo-referenced it using Map Warper. (Huge thanks to Theresa Quill at IU for introducing me to this site!)
I created color-coded layers for four tourist guides published between 1663 and 1700. Depending on which layers you have selected, you can click on an institution and see the excerpt from the guide that mentions it. Carto has a cool feature where you can enter an image url in the metadata and that image will be in the pop-up window. (Tutorial here.)
Since all of the tourist guides I used to create this map are available in Google Books (Woohoo!), I used the snipping tool in the ebook reader to generate the url. Since I first created this map some of the image links have become defunct so, as awesome and time-saving as this feature is, it’s maybe not the best long-term solution.
Selecting a section of the image using the Snipping tool generates an image url that you can copy and paste into Carto. What a time to be alive!
There is also another layer which includes information from my network graph, labeled “Employed Musicians, 1670-1690.” If you click on an institution in that layer, you’ll see a list of the musicians named in the documents from my dissertation research. This isn’t comprehensive, of course, but it’s a start toward bringing together different kinds of evidence.
Putting this map together was a useful exercise, but it also created a lot more issues for me to tackle. First of all, some of these tourist guides mention specific musicians (living and dead) associated with different institutions while other just mention the institution as an important venue. This distinction is more about the documents than it is about the institutions, so I’m trying to decide what role it will play in the graph and how I can communicate it visually.
Second, my research is about networks. While it definitely matters where different institutions were in the city and in relation to one another, I want to be able to draw edges between these institutions to demonstrate relationships. I’m sure that determining and classifying those relationships is going to be an adventure!
I’ll be writing about my presentations for the Orpheus Instituut and for Duke in future blog posts. Stay tuned!
Welcome to the Musicians in Venice project blog! I'll be posting updates on my progress as I experiment with different visualization and mapping platforms.
I created this blog partly to hold myself accountable to my research goals, but also to reach out to other Venetianists and Early Modernists that are interested in data visualization. I'm still relatively new to DH and I regularly make a LOT of mistakes. I'm hoping that if I document those mistakes here others can learn from them!