Women, gender, and music

Linda Phyllis Austern*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


During the early modern period, music was inseparable from the hearing, seeing, touching, moving body with its eyes and ears, its lips and tongue and fingers: The gendered body, the sexed body, the soul that inhabited the body for its brief span of life, the lactating body lulling the newborn one, the hardened body of the warrior alert for death and danger, the chaste body of the nun behind a screen, the immature body of the choirboy, the surgically altered body of the castrato, the body on representational display as another body, the body politic, and even the body of the instrument extending human musical capacities while displaying the performer. Music had a particularly strong link to womanhood and the female body, although practised and appreciated by both sexes. In most European vernacular languages, the very word, rooted in the Latin musica, was gendered feminine, and so the art was personified as mother, bride and lover, if sometimes siren and seductress; even male music-masters and composers produced ‘progeny’ as if their minds were wombs and their teachings life-sustaining milk.1

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781317041054
ISBN (Print)9781409418177
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Women, gender, and music'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this