Dr Giovanni Varelli

Research Fellow

Music in the early Middle Ages (ca. 800–1100), early development of music writing, politics and geographies of chant transmission, liturgical manuscripts.

Research

Giovanni Varelli is a specialist on liturgy, plainchant, and musical notation in the early Middle Ages. His research explores the intersections between the earliest surviving musical repertoires and their written manifestations. In particular, he focuses on how diverse musical cultures within the ‘Latin’ world–as well as beyond–theorised and organised tonal space, especially in relation to text and meaning, and how such relationships were visualised by communities of singers. Giovanni’s interests extend also to Late Antiquity and the early Humanist periods, historical linguistics, digital plainchant research, digital imaging for manuscript studies, and traditional European dance music.

Profile

After his PhD at the University of Cambridge, Giovanni joined the University of Oxford in 2016 as Prize Fellow in Music at Magdalen College. In 2019 he was the recipient of research grants from the Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the Deutscher Akademischer Auststauchdienst, and was visiting fellow at the University of Würzburg’s Institut für Musikforschung and the Fakultät für Katholische Theologie, University of Regensburg. In 2020 Giovanni was appointed Adjunct Fellow of the Centre for Advanced Studies Beyond Canon_ at the University of Regensburg.

In 2019–2021 Giovanni directed an international collaborative proof-of-concept project on digital data retrieval from medieval music palimpsest manuscripts funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the John Fell Fund, and involving Oxford’s Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) as well as four Italian research libraries. Giovanni will continue to work on digital technologies for the study of early chant palimpsests (10th–11th c.) with a EU-Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship from September 2022.

In 2021-2022 Giovanni will be Ahmanson Fellow at The Harvard Research Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa ‘I Tatti’ (Florence) with a project on late-medieval and early-renaissance Italian Processionals.

Publications

Edited books
Disiecta Membra Musicae. Studies in Musical Fragmentology, Series in Manuscript Cultures 21, ed. G. Varelli (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020). [Open Access]

Editions
Il Salterio-Innario Giunta, Venezia 1505, Monumenta Liturgiae et Cantus VII (Lucca: LIM, forthcoming 2021).

Book chapters
On ‘Design’, and Contemporary Historiography of Early Music Writing in Scriptor, Cantor, & Notator. The Materiality of Sound in Chant Manuscripts, eds. E. De Luca, J.-F. Goudesenne, I. Moody (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming 2022).
Aspects of Visuality in Nonantolan Music Script in Von der Oralität zum SchriftBild. Visuelle Kultur und musikalische Notation (9.-11. Jh.), ed. M. Nanni (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2020), pp. 105–122.

Articles
– ‘Le Passiones S. Sebastiani, SS. Nazari et Celsi e S. Christophori in un frammento inedito di Passionario in minuscola retica’, Analecta Bollandiana 137/2 (2019), pp. 298–312.
– ‘Appunti sulla nonantolana come più antico canone notazionale di area italiana’, Studi Gregoriani 30 (2014), pp. 47-76.
– ‘Two Newly-Discovered Tenth-Century Organa’, Early Music History 32 (2013), pp. 277-315.
– ‘The Early Transmission of Chant in Northern Italy: The Evidence of Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, B 48 sup., ff. 141-142’, Études Grégoriennes 40 (2013), pp. 253-282.
– ‘Liturgia e musica a Polirone: le testimonianze manoscritte nei codici della Biblioteca Teresiana di Mantova, Rivista Internazionale di Musica Sacra 32/2 (2011), pp. 157-192.

Conference proceedings
– ‘I frammenti medievali nelle legature degli incunaboli di Novacella nell’Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Tirol’ in La ricerca sulle fonti musicali in Trentino-Alto Adige / Die musikalische Quellenforschung in Trentino- Südtirol, ed. G. Gabrielli (Lucca: LIM, forthcoming 2021).
– ‘Rhythm, Pitch and Text Setting in Palaeofrankish Notation: The Case of London, British Library, Harley MS 3019’ in Cantus Planus: Papers Read at the 16th Meeting of the IMS Study Group, Vienna, Austria, Aug. 21-27 2011, ed. Robert Klugseder (Vienna-Purkersdorf: Hollinek, 2012), pp. 409-414.

Reviews
The Cambridge History of Medieval Music, 2 vols., eds. M. Everist and T. F. Kelly (Cambridge: University Press, 2018), Medium Aevum 88/1 (2019), pp. 435–436.
– L. Nardini, Interlacing traditions: Neo-Gregorian Chant Propers in Beneventan Manuscripts (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), Rivista Italiana di Musicologia 53 (2018), pp. 213–8.
Musica e liturgia a Montecassino nel medioevo, ed. N. Tangari (Roma: Viella, 2011), Plainsong and Medieval Music 22/2 (2013), pp. 237-240.

Conference papers (last 5 years)
Nymphs, Sirens, and Muses: Encore sur ‘les noms des neumes et leur origine’ in MC 318, ‘Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference’, Lisbon, 2021.
Managing Frustration Positively: Working with Early Medieval Liturgical Chant Palimpsests, 16th Annual Marco Manuscript Workshop ‘Immaterial Culture’, University of Tennessee, 2021.
Early Modern Musical Historiography and Padre Martini’s Collection of Medieval Fragments, ‘Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference’, Edinburgh, 2020.
The Roman Schola Cantorum According to the Carolingians: A Reading of the Lost Berlin Diptych, ‘Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference’, Basel, 2019.
Nonantolan Notation and the ‘nota romana’, 19th meeting of the International Musicological Society study group ‘Cantus Planus’, Växjö, 2018.
Musical Graphs and the Crafting of Communal Identity in Early Medieval Europe, ‘Material Cultures of Musical Notation’ conference, Utrecht, 2018.
Come si crea una notazione musicale? Il caso di Nonantola, 20th ‘Colloquio di Musicologia del Saggiatore Musicale’, Bologna, 2016.
Stratigrafie: nuova luce su una tipologia bibliologico-liturgica di area padana altomedievale, 18th meeting of the International Musicological Society study group ‘Cantus Planus’, Dublin 2016.

Invited talks (last 5 years)
Musica e liturgia nella Langobardia maior, ‘Lingue, scritture e società nell’Italia longobarda. Un percorso di sociolinguistica storica’, University of Naples, 2021.
Charting Movement and Exchange of Music Writing Techniques in Carolingian and Ottonian Europe, Centre for Advanced Studies ‘Beyond the Canon’, University of Regensburg (host: Prof. Harald Buchinger), 2019.
Mapping Notational Dialects of Early Medieval Italy, Seminars in Medieval and Renaissance Music, All Souls College, Oxford, 2019.
An Exploration of Graphic Substrata for Early Italian Music-Writing Techniques, Research Seminars, University of Würzburg, 2019.
Manoscritti e notazioni italiche nell’alto medio evo, Research Seminars, University of Lisbon, 2018.
The Worcester Fragments, Plainsong and Medieval Music Society Annual Conference, Worcester Cathedral, 2017.
Early Medieval Writing Culture and the Visuality of Nonantolan Music Script, ‘Von der Oralität zum Schriftbild. Visuelle Kultur und musikalische Notation (9.-11. Jh.)’ conference, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, 2017.
The Earliest Examples of Musical Notation and Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian, Bodleian Master Classes in Medieval Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford 2017.
Maculature liturgico-musicali in Tirolo: lo spoglio degli incunabula di Novacella/Neustift alla ULBT di Innsbruck, ‘Die musikalische Quelleforschung in Trentino-Südtirol’ conference, Brixen, 2016.

Contact details

Dr Giovanni Varelli
giovanni.varelli@music.ox.ac.uk