History and context

Monteverdi’s Marian Vespers of 1610 was his first sacred work after his first publication twenty-eight years prior, and stands out for its assimilation of both old and new styles, although it cannot be specifically classified as prima pratica or seconda pratica, per se. The Vespers were published in July 1610, in combination with a six-voice mass which parodied a motet of Nicolas Gombert; In illo tempore loquante Jesu. Today, over four hundred years later, the precise intentions of this large work are not clearly known or understood. This has been a great topic of debate among musicologists for decades, and it has even been suggested by Graham Dixon that Monteverdi’s setting of the Vespers is more suited towards use for the feast of Saint Barbara, claiming, for example, that the texts taken from Song of Songs are applicable to any female saint. He goes on to write that formatting the Vespers to fit a Marian feast made the work more “marketable”. There are several facts that support this view: there are just two Marian songs in the whole work (Audi Coelum and Ave Maris Stella); the sonata could very easily be rearranged to any saint’s name; and the text of the Duo Seraphim is connected with Saint Barbara (because she is generally connected with Trinity).

The Vespers was first printed in Venice in 1610 when the composer was working at the ducal court in Mantua. Historical record does not indicate whether Monteverdi actually performed the Vespers in either city; the work may have been written as an audition piece for posts at Venice (Monteverdi became maestro di cappella at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice in 1613) and Rome (where the composer was not offered a post).

The Vespers is monumental in scale, and requires a choir large enough and skillful enough to cover up to 10 vocal parts in some movements and split into separate choirs in others while accompanying seven different soloists during the course of the piece. Interestingly, solo parts are included for violin and cornett, but the ripieno instrumentation is not specified by Monteverdi. Additionally, he did not specify a set of plainchant antiphons to insert before each psalm and the concluding Magnificat. This allows the performers to tailor the music according to the available instrumental forces and the occasion of the performance (the particular feast day’s liturgy would have included suggested antiphons that could be chanted before Monteverdi’s psalm settings). Another example of tailoring to the forces available is the fact that the collection includes two versions of the Magnificat, one of which is scored for a smaller group of musicians than the other. Some scholars have argued that this suggests that the Vespers was not intended as a single work, but it is generally performed as such.

Monteverdi’s unique approach to each movement of the Vespers earned the work a place in history. The work not only presents intimate, prayerful moments within its monumental scale, but it also incorporates secular music in this decidedly religious performance and its individual movements present an array of musical forms – sonata, motet, hymn, and psalm – without losing focus. The Vespers achieves overall unity by building each movement on the traditional Gregorian plainchant for each text, which becomes a cantus firmus in Monteverdi’s setting.


Women’s Day has come around again.  Let’s focus on the material conditions that inhibit the flourishing of women.  A huge thank you to those women who have stepped up and are being seen in society thus providing the path for others to follow.  Concomitantly, thanks to those who have chosen to take paths the patriarchy denies light to, but are vitally contributing to the well being of society and future generations.

I am a big fan of raunchel’s musings.  Her writing is adroit, prescient, and incisive.  A small sample highlights teh awesome:

“Because if there is one thing that a woman isn’t allowed to be in our society, it’s different. We aren’t allowed to be individuals, we only are part of a group. And we need this group, we have to be with others, to have a measure of safety. Alone, we’re vulnerable. Of course, in a group, with others, we’re still vulnerable, but less so. This means that it is vital to be part of a group. And to be part of a group, we have to be like the others.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are many pressures on women. All of society has expectations for us, and every deviation thereof means that we have to be punished. This punishment often is exclusion. We are expected to be silent, to be meek, to be a thousand things. But none of those things are being strong, being ambitious, or just being yourself.

This is why women often refuse to take the centre stage. Not only have we been taught since they were little girls that they should be silent, but they also know that if they do, they are excluded. They basically become un-persons, and even associating with them brings the same social punishment.

The reason why this is so strongly enforced is very simple. Nothing is as undermining to patriarchy as a woman who actually achieves something.”




via Lesbian Radfem – Loneliness

Finite area but infinite perimeter? What magic is this?

In case you were unfamiliar. :)

    Some historical context By Tom Englehardt showing the lead up to the bright and cheery future we now inhabit.


“In the end, those seeds, first planted in Afghan and Pakistani soil in 1979, led to the attacks of September 11, 2001.  That day was the very definition of chaos brought to the imperial heartland, and spurred the emergence of a new, post-Constitutional governing structure, through the expansion of the national security state to monumental proportions and a staggering version of imperial overreach.  On the basis of the supposed need to keep Americans safe from terrorism (and essentially nothing else), the national security state would balloon into a dominant — and dominantly funded — set of institutions at the heart of American political life (without which, rest assured, FBI Director James Comey’s public interventions in an American election would have been inconceivable).  In these years, that state-within-a-state became the unofficial fourth branch of government, at a moment when two of the others — Congress and the courts, or at least the Supreme Court — were faltering.

The 9/11 attacks also unleashed the Bush administration’s stunningly ambitious, ultimately disastrous Global War on Terror, and over-the-top fantasies about establishing a military-enforced Pax Americana, first in the Middle East and then perhaps globally.  They also unleashed its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. drone assassination program across significant parts of the planet, the building of an unprecedented global surveillance state, the spread of a kind of secrecy so all-encompassing that much of government activity became unknowable to “the People,” and a kind of imperial overreach that sent literally trillions of dollars (often via warrior corporations) tumbling into the abyss.  All of these were chaos-creating factors.

At the same time, the basic needs of many Americans went increasingly unattended, of those at least who weren’t part of a Gilded Age 1% sucking up American wealth in an extraordinary fashion.  The one-percenters then repurposed some of those trickle-up funds for the buying and selling of politicians, again in an atmosphere of remarkable secrecy.  (It was often impossible to know who had given money to whom for what.)  In turn, that stream of Supreme Court-approved funds changed the nature of, and perhaps the very idea of, what an election was.

Meanwhile, parts of the heartland were being hollowed out, while — even as the military continued to produce trillion-dollar boondoggle weapons systems — the country’s inadequately funded infrastructure began to crumble in a way that once would have been inconceivable.  Similarly, the non-security-state part of the government — Congress in particular — began to falter and wither.  Meanwhile, one of the country’s two great political parties launched a scorched-earth campaign against governing representatives of the other and against the very idea of governing in a reasonably democratic fashion or getting much of anything done at all.  At the same time, that party shattered into disorderly, competing factions that grew ever more extreme and produced what is likely to become a unique celebrity presidency of chaos.  

The United States with all its wealth and power is, of course, hardly an Afghanistan or a Libya or a Yemen or a Somalia.  It still remains a genuinely great power, and one with remarkable resources to wield and fall back on.  Nonetheless, the recent election offered striking evidence that the empire of chaos had indeed made the trip homeward.  It’s now with us big time, all the time.  Get used to it.”

Something something reaping…and sowing et cetera.  :/

I do like me some science. :)

Reblogging in Solidarity – This quote from the post: “Feminists like Lise Meitner responded to continued insistence that gender is a matter of subjective identity (an idea that justifies medical experimentation on children and the bullying of lesbians), by insisting on evidence-based debate. Meitner wrote: “Words mean things and if someone uses a word improperly then I will correct them. If men could become women there would be no need to force women to accept them as such. Telling people to ignore their own senses & value patriarchal dogma over material reality is zealotry.”

Put another way, “Gotta love the men telling us women we don’t exist as a class: so we cannot protest the patriarchy” tweeted Kristina Vasaätten, in response to Young Greens convenor Max Tweedie’s insistence that there is no solid definition of what a woman is. “TRANSACTIVISM = FEMALE ERASURE”, she said.”

writing by renee

Note: GNC is an abbreviation for gender non-conforming.

On the evening of Saturday, February 17, Charlie Montague and I jumped the fence at Auckland Pride to lead the parade and conduct the first televised interview of the event. We – proudly – held a two metre banner reading STOP GIVING KIDS SEX HORMONES – PROTECT LESBIAN YOUTH: a statement that, however boldly made, should surely not be controversial. Other than the accidentally live streamed interview, the action was largely ignored by media: only Scoop published the press release. The main response has been on social media.

The social media response has included plenty of trashing, much of it amusing. I’ve been compared to Milo Yiannopoulos (though I collaborated, on this action, with a lesbian “ecofascist”). Anne Russell, who has previously published fabrications about me being an ‘abuser’, went so far as to coin the term “Genital Witch”. Threats…

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