‘On the ten-stringed psaltery’: musical instruments as symbols in the Middle Ages

The Bridge, Hardiman Research Building, NUI, Galway; Thursday 24 May 2018 (starting at 10am)

 Musical instruments abound in medieval iconography and literature, so much so that modern craftsmen were able to build replicas of medieval instruments working from images and texts. But did medieval artists and writers always intend to depict or describe real instruments? In this colloquium, five speakers will explore a number of medieval iconographic and textual case-studies where musical instruments are not treated at all, or not only, as real objects, but rather as symbols and allegories referring to poetic, scholarly or religious notions…

The organisation of this colloquium is supported by the Research Support Scheme of the College of Arts Social Sciences and Celtic Studies (NUI, Galway) and by the Galway Early Music Festival 2018.

Speakers: Dr Jacopo Bisagni (NUI, Galway); Dr Ann Buckley (Trinity College, Dublin); Dr Isabelle Marchesin (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris); Mr Michael Shields (NUI, Galway); Dr Olivier Szerwiniack (Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens).


10am: Welcome address by Dr Aidan Thomson

Morning session (chair: Prof. Michael Clarke)

10.30am – 11.15am: Jacopo Bisagni, ‘The instrumental captions in Angers, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 18: their Insular background and their meaning.’

11.15am – noon : Isabelle Marchesin, ‘Textual and visual exegesis: matter and form in instrumental representations of the Dardanus images.’

noon – 12.45pm: Olivier Szerwiniack, ‘Textual problems in the Epistula ad Dardanum.’

12.45 – 2pm: Light buffet lunch (free of charge)

Afternoon session (chair: Dr Mark Stansbury)

2 – 2.45pm: Ann Buckley, ‘The materiality and symbolism of musical instruments in medieval Irish iconography.’

2.45 – 3.30pm: Michael Shields, ‘Why hide music technologies in an allegorical paradise? Eberhard von Cersne’s Der Minne Regel (ca.1400).’

3.30 – 4pm: Final discussion (with tea & coffee)


Music conference 2018: poster

Music conference 2018: programme