Voicing the doge's sacred image

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During the fourteenth century, Venetian chronicles, art, and ceremony fostered provocative analogies between angelic annunciation and the political voice of the Venetian populace. Such analogies imagined a city whose civic and heavenly members were united through the sound of unanimity. At the intersection of the state's civic and celestial bodies stood the doge, considered to be the image of the Republic and of its patron, Saint Mark. A complex of sung ceremonies and musical compositions addressed to the doge dramatized the notion that the voice, as a ritual instrument, could engender real political or spiritual change in the state and its leaders. Performances of acclamations to the doge positioned him within Venice's sacred and civic hierarchies, while state art and ceremony forged symbolic resemblances between ducal acclamation and angelic annunciation. A repertory of occasional motets evidences polyphonic play with the notion that vocal rituals centered on the doge could activate the spiritual ideals of the state: the anonymous Marce, Marcum imitaris (c. 1365) draws a sonic analogy between spiritual likeness and musical imitation in order to dramatize the concept of the doge as Mark's image, whereas Johannes Ciconia's Venecie mundi splendor/Michael qui Stena domus elides a text dedicated to the Annunciate Virgin with one addressed to the doge, creating musical echoes and simultaneities in its praises of Venice's temporal and celestial leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-245
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of Musicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


  • Acclamation
  • Civic ritual
  • Historiography
  • Johannes Ciconia
  • Motet
  • Venice


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