Sheko Nikolay

Rhetoric in European church music of the XVII century

Sheko Nikolay (2017) "Rhetoric in European church music of the XVII century ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2017, vol. 27, pp. 27-38 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV201727.27-38


Catholic art, in particular music, under the influence of the decrees of the Council of Trent, has undergone drastic changes. The Council of Trent 1545 - 1563 was intended to oppose the dissemination of the ideas of the Reformation. The cathedral marked the transition from the medieval period of the history of the Catholic Church to the classical period. The ideas of Protestantism seriously influenced the church's consciousness of the Catholic Church, therefore, for the successful struggle against them, the Council Fathers decided to actually fulfill the demands of the Protestants regarding church music. Music as a tool that affects a person's aesthetic perception, with proper use, can greatly affect his emotional and psychological state. In the Catholic Church, rhetoric techniques were widely used, not only in oratory, that is, in preaching, but also in instrumental and vocal music accompanying worship. Rhetoric in music transmitted information in a double volume: through the influence of a word pronounced with a certain intonation and at a certain pitch, and the impact of melody, with the help of musical figures and sound effects that affect the emotional state of believers. It was personal emotional experiences that became the main content of both spiritual and secular art in Europe in the 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries. Rhetoric was taught both in Catholic Jesuit educational institutions and in Protestant schools. In fact, it was the basis of European education in the XVII-XVIII centuries. The surviving treatises on rhetoric give us a good basis for studying multiple meanings, concluded not only in European music, poetry and theater, but also in church art.


music, rhetoric, Catholic art, Baroque, Reformation, Council of Trent


  1. G. Buschbell. Concilium Tridentinum: Diarorum, Actorum, epistolarum, tractatuum nova collectio. Т. 10. Freiburg. 1916. р. 762;
  2. Fellerer K. G., Hadas Moses. Church Music and the Council of Trent. Oxford University Press. The Musical Quarterly. Ed.39, No. 4. (1953). р. 576-594;
  3. Gosine.C. Jane., Oland. Erik. Docere, Delectare, Movere: Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Jesuit Spirituality. Oxford University Press. Early Music. ed. 32, No. 4 (2004). p. 511-514; 516-539;
  4. James. Murphy. Medieval Rhetoric: Toronto. University of Toronto Press. 1989;
  5. Marc-Antoine Charpentier. «Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues». H 513;
  6. Palacios Quiroz. Rafael. La pronuntiatio musicale : une interprétation rhétorique au service de Händel, Montéclair, C. P. E. Bach et Telemann. Thèse de doctorat. Paris 2012;

Information about the author

Sheko Nikolay

Place of work: State Institute for Art Studies; 5, Kozitsky pereulok, Moscow 125000, Russian Federation;
Email: nsheko@yandex.ru.