Consisting of an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion, this study
analyzes the relationship of the "three crowns" to music. Marco Cerocchi's
book is one of several dealing with music, including Francesco Ciabattoni's
recently-released Dante's Journey to Polyphony (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 2010). Only one chapter of Cerocchi's study deals specifically
with Boccaccio. However, to get a sense of Cerocchi's treatment of
Boccaccio, an overview of the entire work is necessary.
In the introductory chapter, Cerocchi provides a brief panorama of
thirteenth-century music. He begins with the reception of classical theories
about music, from Pythagoras to Plato and Aristotle, through Saint
Augustine and Boethius. His principal thesis is that the three great Italian
authors absorb the traditional teaching that music excites the body and
thus inspires irrational emotions. In his first chapter, Cerocchi demonstrates
the changes in musical traditions throughout the Duecento. He defines
traditional medieval music to be the laude of the Church, and the
para-liturgical music that developed alongside them; but the development
of the communes also gave rise to secular music as well. To exemplify the
evolution of thirteenth-century music he examines St. Francis's Canticle of
the Creatures and Jacopone da Todi's Donna de Paradiso; both were derived
from the liturgical and para-liturgical tradition, but Jacopone also
includes more secular elements like dialogue. The historical-cultural setting
for the following three chapters is that the "three crowns" lived in a
time when moral teachings condemned secular music even while secular
music became increasingly popular.