| Benjamin Albritton | Barbara Altmann | Evelyn Arnrich | Elizabeth L. Keathley | Deborah McGrady | Kevin N. Moll |
The International Machaut Society sponsored two sessions and a business luncheon at Kalamazoo; all events took place on Saturday May 10th, 2003.
This project has its origins in an error. Some years ago, I found in a fifteenth century manuscript (BNF f.fr. 2201) a poem attributed to Alain Chartier. I knew from its language, themes, form and rhetorical flourishes that the attribution was incorrect and believed it might be the work of Christine de Pizan, with whose style it was entirely consistent. After some sleuthing, however, I discovered that I, too, was wrong. The poem was well documented as part of the corpus by Guillaume de Machaut.
This experience raises questions concerning the conventional nature of late-medieval courtly poetry. We can easily mistake a poem by one author for the work of another because so much of that poetry draws on the same themes, vocabulary, tropes, meter and rhyme. In particular, it confirmed the strong intertextual link between Machaut and Christine. In this paper, I wish to analyze what evidence there is for a deliberate dialogical, intertextual relationship between the works of Machaut and Christine and what is more simply the result of the popularity of particular forms and themes in late-medieval poetry.
Reading Machaut side by side with one of his greatest literary descendents will give us a better understanding of the writerly genealogies late-medieval authors constructed as one way to legitimize their public voices. Machaut’s key role in medieval literary history becomes clearer as we examine how his successors altered the models he created. As for Christine, her work must be read not in isolation but in context; like all her contemporaries, she deliberately inscribes her writing as part of the traditions and prevailing currents of her cultural milieu. She must be read as a reader of the master, Machaut.
My approach includes examining the ill-defined overlap of our notions of intertextuality and conventionality. In its broadest sense, the term “intertextuality” actually encompasses literary convention. In practice, however, critics tend to see an “intertextual” relationship between two pieces of literature as positive and worthy of notice, while “conventional” has a more negative valence. The study of the use of conventional forms is a rich area of enquiry for Middle-French poetry, however, in which each author finds his or her own voice through subtle variation. To appreciate this aesthetic we need to re-examine our use of current critical terms as they apply to the Middle Ages.
My initial corpus for this new paper will be the highly
structured, intricate lyric poems known as “complaintes” or “lais,” of
which Machaut composed 24 and Christine three. In future stages I will
extend the analysis to their allegorical work.
In general the motets written by Guillaume de Machaut have come down to us by means of the Machaut Manuscripts MachA, MachB, MachC, MachE, MachG and Vg. Apart from these manuscripts, three motets nos. 8, 15 and 19 were also handed down in Codex Ivrea respectively in Trém. During the presentation all manuscripts, containing the above mentioned motets will compared by an open edition in order to their assignment of the text to music. Differences based on the scribal praxis will shown and analysed. The presentation aims at a more detailed perspective on scribal processes of the Machaut motets.
The International Machaut Society sponsored two sessions and a business luncheon on Saturday 8 May 2004.
This paper addresses the issue of residual traces of Machaut's Voir dit in fifteenth-century compendia. Beyond providing evidence that Machaut’s magnum opus survived well into the next century before disappearing with the advent of print, this residue presents invaluable insight into the ways in which later generations interpreted the work. In essence, this residue records how Machuat’s text was decouvert, chante, flageole by later generations. To develop this argument, I will survey briefly four fifteenth-century revivals of the Voir dit that relocate the text in distinctive textual terrains. These "terrains" range from miscellaneous collections of poetry to new literary creations, where in each case the dominant text feeds off the Voir dit by way of direct citation, appropriation, or poetic recall. The three cases are as follows: 1) a miscellaneous collection of late medieval poetry produced circa 1400 (University of Pennsylvania Libraries, MS Pa), 2) a radically abridged version of the Voir dit contained in a collection of Machaut’s works produced most likely between 1425-1430 (Pierpont Morgan, MS Pm 396), and finally, 3) René d’Anjou’s 1457 eulogy to Machaut in his imaginary visit to the master’s tomb recorded in Le livre du cuer d’amours espris. These examples have been privileged because they present tantalizing evidence that Toute-Belle and Guillaume’s love affair "was sung, performed, talked about" for many decades after the composition and initial circulation of the Voir dit, but they also disclose to what extent Machaut’s text was co-opted, rewritten, and repackaged to serve very different ambitions.
Analysis of Guillaume de Machaut's lais reveals the repeated use of a rather complex metric structure. This stanza form appears in lais which received musical settings as well as some which did not, and appears confined to the chronologically later works. The purpose of this paper is to examine the elements that distinguish this stanza form from the plethora of forms Machaut used, as well as to consider the possible significance of the use of this recurring musical and poetic form.
This form, a7a7b4b7a4a7b4b7a4, is asymmetrical in both its rhyme- and metric-schemes, yet has a highly consistent musical form. It is used in fourteen of the lais (including the two canons, but excluding the lais found to contain hidden polyphony), and in six instances is used for the opening and closing stanzas. In effect, it is repeated often enough to become a recognizable fixed form within the larger context of the concrete form of the Machaut lai (twelve stanzas with different metric and rhyme schemes, save the first and last which are of the same form).
Areas of consideration include: poetic and musical context within specific works; aspects of form as related to a shifting concept of genre in the later lais; questions of intertexuality (how should the reader/listener understand a recognizable form within a genre which prizes difference); and possible precedents for this highly organized presentation of a specific signature form. Finally, I will address the question of why Machaut chose to emphasize this particular form.
As her only poem (that we know of) set to music during her own century, Christine de Pizan's ballade Dueil angoisseux has garnered a certain amount of attention from musicologists. Its place in the first part of her Cent Ballades, a section entitled "Poemes de Veuvage" (Poems of Widowhood), has led Dueil angoisseux to be regarded as a powerful lament on the death of her husband, and Binchois' setting is also assumed to respond to someone's death (whose is unclear). But unlike some of her other ballades and rondeaux, Dueil angoisseux makes no reference at all to her deceased husband. Rather, the ballade protests the frustrations of her condition of widowhood, and the envoy makes a direct appeal for aid.
There is a striking correspondence between the content of Dueil angoisseux and the autobiographical account of her misfortunes in L'Avision-Christine (Christine's Vision)--her financial difficulties, embarrassment, "labor in vain," and victimization by uncaring or unscrupulous persons--all crystallized in Vision in a ballade complaining of the treatment of widows in general: "Alas! Where shall they find solace/Poor widows who have lost all?" Liane Curtis has argued persuasively that Dueil angoisseux represents a woman's use of lament, a culturally ascribed "feminine" genre, to gain access to public speech. But it's even more than that: it's a woman's use of a feminine genre not to express her sadness, but to make demands of an unjust and uncaring world.
Christine acknowledged that part of the appeal of her poems was their female authorship: the nobles in France and abroad found this quite novel. Binchois, who served the Burgundian court as Christine had, surely had some sense that there was more to this ballade than a widow's sadness, and this suggests that his compositional response to the poem as well as the occasion behind his setting stand to be reconsidered.
This paper explores the issue of the polyphonic mass cycle as it appears to have been conceived in the fourteenth century, as opposed to its much more familiar guise in the fifteenth century, when musical unification through a common cantus firmus was a clear element of its design.
Following the work of Leo Schrade, the study begins by defining the mass cycle of the period in terms of its paleographical and musical characteristics, tracing its roots in the plainchant cycles that began to be common in the thirteenth century. Codicological criteria for defining the mass cycle proceed from the contiguous placement of appropriate settings of the Mass Ordinary in liturgical order in manuscripts (including settings of the Ite missa est), as well as the extent of regularity in the inclusion of the various movements. Musical evidence considered includes the extent of tonal coherence among the various movements of a putative cycle, the use of preexistent plainchant melodies in polyphonic contexts, and the reuse of related motivic, tonal, and rhythmic material in disparate movements.
The following section of the paper comprises an assessment of the Machaut Mass, comparing this famous cycle with the other generally recognized mass cycles of the period (i.e., the Tournai, Sorbonne, Toulouse, and Barcelona masses), as well as considering a number of further groupings that have been proposed by various scholars.
The paper concludes with a general reassessment of the use of preexistent material in mass movements of the period, particularly the so-called parody techniques that have at times been emphasized as being cultivated by composers of liturgical music during the fourteenth century. These are shown to be based on procedures that are more utilitarian, and less self-consciously artistic, than has generally been acknowledged in the literature.
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