Tess Knighton

Tess Knighton

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Tess Knighton holds MA and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge and is an Emeritus Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. From May 2011 she has been an ICREA Research Professor, until May 2020 at the Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC), and subsequently at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. She held a Marie Curie Foundation grant (2012-6) for a research project on the urban musics of early modern Barcelona, and Spanish government grant (I+D) (2020-23)on the contribution of confraternities and guilds to the urban soundscape in the Iberian Peninsula, 1400-1700. She currently holds an ERC Advanced grant (2022-2027) on 'How Processions Moved' involving sensory and emotional history and DH tools. Her research interests embrace music and culture in the Iberian world from the 15th to the 17th centuries, and she has published widely in this field. She is Series Editor of the Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music series for The Boydell Press.

Research interests

My research focuses on various interrelated aspects of music in the Iberian world in the long 16th century: music and ceremony; music in the urban context, including perspectives of sensory and emotional hiustory; the impact of music printing on the diffusion of musical repertory; and music historiography. Analysis of music and ceremony focuses on public display as well as private devotions; placing music in the context of court ceremonial reveals patterns of self-identity and image-making. Study of the urban musical experience of different social groups highlights the relationship between music and the institutional complex and urban societal interaction. The impact of music printing on the diffusion and accessibility of music is studied through extant inventories to reveal how European editions were transmitted to the centres of the book trade and the extent of musical literacy. Received ideas of Renaissance Iberian music are challenged and historiographical filters analyzed.

Selected publications

- Knighton T 2023, ‘Urban Soundscapes in Early Modern Italian and Spanish Cities: Confraternities as Acoustic Communities’, in Music, Place and Identity in Italian Urban Soundscapes circa 1550–1800, S. Caputo F, Piperno & E. Senici, London & NewYork: Routledge.
- Kinghton T 2023, 'El so de Barcelona del Renaixement', Paperets. El podcast sobre patrimoni musical, 17.