Distinguished Lecture Series: Musicologist Melinda Latour on Stoic Remedies: Music as Psychotherapy in Early Modern France
Although the scope and significance of the ailments varied greatly, the interest in music as a remedy was a continuous thread in the premodern European tradition–––offering miraculous as well as practical treatments for everything from lovesickness to civil discord. The most influential source of these views was the Pythagorean/Platonic lineage, which forged a connection between the vibrational harmony of the spheres and the proper working of bodies and souls here in the earthly realm. However, an alternate lineage of early modern therapy with clear musical applications emerged with the revival of Stoicisim, a broad intellectual and cultural movement that reached its full power in Europe between the 1580s and the 1630s. This more psychological and cognitive approach to therapy was not dependent upon an enchanted worldview for its efficacy (although Stoicism supported a belief in the divine), and its use of music as a remedy went beyond the commonplace medicinal recommendations to enjoy music for health, relaxation, or bodily refreshment. Stoic therapy, in contrast, was built upon a richly detailed philosophy of mind and moral psychology. This cognitive framework offers fresh insight into our understanding of an imaginative corpus of late sixteenth-century vocal music settings of Stoic and Neostoic texts, in particular, Paschal de L’Estocart’s double collection of Octonaires de la vanité du monde (1582).
Dr. Melinda Latour is an Assistant Professor of Musicology at Tufts University. Her research is centered on Renaissance music history, early modern music jurisprudence, music and ethics, tone and timbre in popular music, and Mexican music.
Reception to follow in the Green Room.