Tess Knighton

Tess Knighton

Institució Milà i Fontanals


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 at the Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC) in Barcelona. In July 2012 she was awarded a Marie Curie Foundation Integration Grant for a research project on the urban musics of early modern Barcelona. Her research interests embrace music and culture in the Iberian world from the 15th to the early 17th centuries, and she has published widely in this field. She was Editor of the OUP journal Early Music from 1993 to 2009 and since 2003 is Series Editor of the Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music series for The Boydell Press. She forms part of editorial and advisvory committees of Monumentos de la Música Esañola, Revista de Musicología, Anuario Musical, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and 'Connected Cities' on the 'Historical Soundscapes' digital platform.

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, inlcuding 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 & Kreitner K 2019, ‘The music of Juan de Anchieta, Routledge, London. https://www.routledge.com/The-Music-of-Juan-de-Anchieta-1st-Edition/Knighton-Kreitner/p/book/9781315555379 

Knighton T 2019, ‘Approaches to Text-Setting in Castilian-Texted Devotional Songs’, in (ed.) Colin M-A, French Renaissance Music and Beyond. Studies in Memorary of Frank Dobbins, Epitome Musicale, Brépols, Turnhout, 2018, pp. 427-454.

Knighton T 2019, ‘The Written Transmission of Polyphonic Song in Spain c.1500: The Case of the Segovia Manuscript’, in Furhmann W & Urchueguía C, The Segovia Manuscript: A European Musical Repertory in Spain, c.1500 Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music, 20 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press), pp. 231-263.

Knighton T 2019, ‘The Polyphonic Songs Attributed to Pedro de Escobar’, Revista Portuguesa de Musicología / Portuguese Journal of Musicology, 6/1, pp. 183-210.

Selected research activities

2019 has been an intense year for research, publication, conferences and seminars. Research has focused on new investigation in Barcelona archives – diocesan, city and parish church – relating to the musical activity of a collegiate church, the contribution of confraternities and guilds to the urban soundscape, and the sonosphere of a parish church. This new research is feeding into a monograph on daily musical life in early modern Barcelona and other publications. It has been especially interesting to develop perspectives drawn from the history of the senses and emotions to open up wider discourses and methodologies. I explored these ideas in the ICREA Colloquium ‘Beyond Musicology’, and developed them further in other papers and seminars. The curious phenomenon of waiting hours for a bus and then four turning up at once, has occurred with my publications this year: these all relate to Iberian music and culture around 1500.