Giulia Accornero

Thesis: Buying Time, Marking Space: Algorisms, Algebraic Objects, and the Emergence of Mensural Notations

I have always been interested in understanding musical phenomena and their material traces as they relate to human experience. This interest is coupled with a close concern for the ways we theorize about music—whether through “official” music theory, its vernacular forms, or its instruments—and how that can shape ourselves and the world we live in. 

My dissertation looks at the emergence of 13th and 14th centuries measured notations in France, Italy, and the Iberian peninsula, and how they produce categories of rhythm and musical time that still operate today as fundamental theoretical and musicological concepts. I rethink these categories by focusing instead on measured notation as a “cultural technique.” This media-theoretical perspective leads me to investigate the role Islamicate commercial mathematics played in their theorization.

In the meantime, I am also thinking (and writing) about the technology and aesthetics of amplified “small sounds.” I am particularly interested in how the small sounds featured in recent musical objects and ASMR videos provide us with an acoustemology of intimacy and caregiving.

In the spring 2019 I funded the GEM Lab (GSAS Early Music Lab) with the goal of providing occasions to sing and study Early Music repertoire. During the spring 2020 I will be a Graduate Fellow at the Villa I Tatti. Before coming to Harvard, I obtained a BA in Economics (Bocconi University, 2010) and a BA and MA in Musicology (Conservatorio di Milano, 2013/2016).