Writing to be Heard: Performing Music in Don Quixote
Cervantes must have felt that the ongoing transformation to a culture dominated by the written verse had significant drawbacks, at least when it came to music and poetry. As a result, in Don Quixote the author expects the reader to find the textual cues to suitably perform the novel’s lyrical poetry, in much the same way as the troubadours of his youth would have. We will never know if his contemporaneous readers picked up on these clues. But, they are there nonetheless, indicating that Cervantes had an astonishing knowledge of early modern musical forms, while also reminding us that he was at a crossroads in history when society struggled with the significance of the written word.
This chapter is from the book Cervantes in Perspective (2013): 87. Posted with permission.