Book Series Studies in the Visual Cultures of the Middle Ages, vol. 9

Resounding Images

Medieval Intersections of Art, Music, and Sound

Susan Boynton, Diane J. Reilly (eds)

  • Pages: 451 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:201 b/w, 54 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2015

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55437-2
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55448-8
  • E-book
  • Available

Winner of the 2016 "Ruth A. Solie" Award of the American Musicological Society.

This study brings together for the first time scholars of Christian, Islamic and Jewish art and music to reconstruct the complex intersection between art, architecture and sound in the medieval world.  Case studies explore how ambient and programmatic sound, including chant and speech, and its opposite, silence, interacted with objects and the built environment to create the multisensory experiences that characterized medieval life.


"This book is a virtuosic collection of sixteen essays, which apply new ways of thinking about listening, performance, and the perception of sonic phenomena in the medieval eastern and western worlds. It embraces a pluralistic interdisciplinary approach that takes performativity and the sensory experience of music (its corporeality and its aurality) as critical interventions in the production of cultural meaning. (...) The book is beautifully presented, thoroughly documented, and points to new directions in the fields of music iconography, art history, and sound studies." (David Bernstein, Chair of the 2016 Solie Award committee)

“Overall, this fascinating volume aims to explore the ways in which people experienced and used sound, as well as the reasons behind these experiences, with groundbreaking research.” (Campbell E. Garland, in Comitatus, 47, 2016, p. 330)

« I saggi della collezione, tutti di alto livello, testimoniano dell’importanza della musica anche nell’interpretazione delle immagini sia figurative che astratte che, in questo modo, si arricchirebbero proprio di quella qualità – il movimento – capace di renderle, almeno per un certo tempo, più “vive”. » (Loretta Vandi sull’ ArteVista: sguardi d’arte e cultura tra passato e future, 17.10.2016)

“Collectively, the essays in Resounding Images reveal new ways that the senses contributed to the experience of medieval ritual, liturgy, and private prayer. Amid the different methodologies and the myriad types of evidence and argument, medievalists will find something that inspires them to see and hear the material they work with in new ways.” (Rebecca Maloy, in Speculum, 92/2, 2017, p. 506-507)

“The volume is beautifully produced, containing ample illustrative material, including color plates, integrated photographs, architectural plans, and codicological tables. It provides welcome contributions to what is a new focus for medieval studies, one that incorporates the study of the acoustic in tandem with the analysis of the visual, combining the careful expertise of art history and musicology, two disciplines that benefit from long years of critical insights into medieval cultural production. It is hoped that in the future we might expand these efforts to include all the senses.” (Corine Schleif, in College Art Association Reviews, 48, 2018)


Susan Boynton is Professor of Historical Musicology at Columbia University and specializes in medieval western chant, liturgy and monasticism. Diane Reilly is Associate Professor of Art History at Indiana University, and is a specialist in manuscripts and medieval monastic reform.
Their previous book was The Practice of the Bible in the Middle Ages (2011).


While sound is probably the most difficult component of the past to reconstruct, it was also the most pervasive, whether planned or unplanned, instrumental or vocal, occasional or ambient. Acoustics were central to the perception of performance; images in liturgical manuscripts were embedded in a context of song and ritual actions; and architecture provided both visual and spatial frameworks for music and sound. Resounding Images brings together specialists in the history of art, architecture, and music to explore the manifold roles of sound in the experience of medieval art. Moving beyond the field of musical iconography, the contributors reconsider the relationship between sound, space and image in the long Middle Ages.


List of Illustrations; Acknowledgments

Susan Boynton and Diane J. Reilly, “Sound and Image in the Middle Ages: Reflections on a Conjunction”

1. Matthew G. Shoaf, “The Voice in Relief: Sculpture and Surplus Vocality at the Rise of Naturalism”
2. Sheila Bonde and Clark Maines, “Performing Silence and Regulating Sound: The Monastic Soundscape of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes”
3. Elizabeth Valdez del Álamo, “Hearing the Image at Santo Domingo de Silos”
4. Tom Nickson, “The Sound of Conversion in Medieval Iberia”
5. Nina Ergin, “‘Praiseworthy in that great multitude was the silence’: Sound/Silence in the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul”
6. Sharon E. J. Gerstel, “Monastic Soundspaces in Late Byzantium: The Art and Act of Chanting”
7. Nancy Ševčenko, “Written Voices: The Spoken Word in Middle Byzantine Monumental Painting”
8. Henry Schilb, “Singing, Crying, Shouting, and Saying: Embroidered Aëres and Epitaphioi and the Sounds of the Byzantine Liturgy”
9. Sarit Shalev-Eyni, “The Aural-Visual Experience in the Ashkenazi Ritual Domain of the Middle Ages”
10. Andrew Tallon, “The Play of Daniel in the Cathedral of Beauvais”
11. Sébastien Biay, “Building a Church with Music: The Plainchant Capitals at Cluny, c. 1100”
12. Judith H. Oliver, “Sounds and Visions of Heaven: The Fusion of Music and Art in the Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbroeck”
13. Margot E. Fassler and Jeffrey F. Hamburger, “The Desert in Paradise: A Newly Discovered Office for John the Baptist from Paradies bei Soest and its Place in the Dominican Liturgy”
14. Sara Offenberg, “Staging the Blindfolded Bride: Between Medieval Drama and Piyyut Illumination in the Levy Maḥzor”
15. Michael Curschmann, “Integrating Anselm: Pictures and the Liturgy in a Twelfth-Century Manuscript of the ‘Orationes sive Meditationes’”
16. Suzanne Wijsman, “Silent Sounds: Musical Iconography in a Fifteenth-Century Jewish Prayer Book”

Bibliography - Index