Paper on distributed cognition and medieval song is published in a volume edited by Mary Carruthers
A methodological approach that combines the psychology of distributed cognition with a close reading of Senleches’s Je me merveil / J’ay pluseurs fois suggests a new cultural role for song in the later fourteenth century.
Mary Carruthers’s new edited volume Rhetoric Beyond Words: Delight and Persuasion in the Arts of the Middle Ages has just been published by Cambridge University Press. It contains my essay ‘Nature’s Forge and Mechanical Production: Writing, Reading, and Performing Song’, which attempts to suggest a new way of viewing the relations between medieval songs and their original performers. Using the image of the forge as a way of thinking about artistic creativity, and the modern concept of distributed cognition (cognition when a process that necessitates collaboration involves a hierarchical structure of individuals, using external objects to represent things difficult to represent mentally), it argues that part of song’s important cultural work was done among singers in rehearsal.
The paper focuses its initial efforts through one of the central metaphors of making (i.e. artistic creativity) in the Middle Ages: the forge or smithy. Initial subsections discuss ‘Memory, the forge, inventio and the mechanical’ and ‘Creation and procreation: the moral ambiguity of memory’ before the article focuses on a single song by Jacob Senleches, that uses the forge image centrally: the double balade, Je me merveil / J’ay pluseurs foys. Sections here are entitled ‘Senleches (& Co.) as the hammer of the amateur’, ‘Forging song’, and ‘Forging irony?’. Full texts and (new) translations for the song are offered. Engaging with earlier analyses by Gilles Dulong and Anne Stone, my own analysis of the song concludes that
Far from criticizing his compositional rivals, Senleches’ song addresses the relationship between forging a song in writing as a composer and forging a song in sound as a singer—a relationship mediated by notation—in a period when the memory was a machine for invention, the mechanical was positively human, and being someone’s instrument was a culturally approved career choice. In short, I suggest that a song is less an object than a collaborative rhetorical process which binds the composer, notation, singers and listeners within a machine, whose workings—when going well—should mirror in sonic ratios those that medieval thinkers posited in the heavens.
A final section (‘Musical notes as memorial notae’) relates the reading to a concept in modern psychology that has recently been used fruitfully in studies of rehearsal in Renaissance theatre, where the performers similarly worked from individual parts—the idea of ‘distributed cognition’.
Link to the full text of this article. Published as Elizabeth Eva Leach, “Nature’s Forge and Mechanical Production: Writing, Reading, and Performing Song,” in Rhetoric Beyond Words: Delight and Persuasion in the Arts of the Middle Ages, ed. Mary Carruthers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 72-95. © Cambridge University Press 2010. Reprinted with permission.
Bibliography (some links require a subscription)
- Abbate, Carolyn. ‘Outside Ravel’s Tomb’. Journal of the American Musicological Society 52, no. 3 (1999): 465-530. [Access via JSTOR]
- Alan of Lille. The Plaint of Nature. Translated by James J. Sheridan. Vol. 26, Medieval Sources in Translation. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1980.
- Bent, Margaret. ‘The Grammar of Early Music: Preconditions for Analysis’. In Tonal Structures in Early Music, edited by Cristle Collins Judd, Vol. 1, 15-59. New York and London: Garland, 1998.
- ———. ‘Naming of Parts: Notes on the Contratenor, c. 1350-1450’. In ‘Uno gentile et subtile ingenio’: Studies in Renaissance Music in Honour of Bonnie J. Blackburn, edited by Gioia Filocamo and M. Jennifer Bloxam, 1-12. Turnhout: Brepols, 2009.
- Binski, Paul. Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation. London: The British Museum Press, 1996.
- Carruthers, Mary. The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
- Cerquiglini-Toulet, Jacqueline. The Color of Melancholy: The Uses of Books in the Fourteenth Century. Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
- Cicero, Tusculan disputations, 1:44; trans. J. E. King (London and New York: Loeb Classical Library, 1927).
- Dalglish, William. ‘The Origin of the Hocket’. Journal of the American Musicological Society 31, no. 1 (1978): 3-20. [Access via JSTOR]
- Dulong, Gilles. ‘Canons, palindromes musicaux et textes poétiques dans les chansons de l’ars nova’. In Canons and Canonic Techniques, 14th-16th Centuries: Theory, Practice, and Reception History, edited by Katelijne Schiltz and Bonnie J. Blackburn, Vol. 1, 61-82. Leuven: Peeters, 2007.
- Durling, Nancy Vine. ‘Women’s Visible Honor in Medieval Romance: The Example of the Old French Roman du Comte de Poitiers’. In Translatio Studii: Essays by His Students in Honor of Karl D. Uitti for His Sixty-Fifth Birthday, edited by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, 117-32. Amsterdem: Rodopi, 2000.
- Earp, Lawrence. Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research. Vol. 36, Garland Composer Resource Manuals. New York: Garland, 1995.
- Economou, George. The Goddess Natura in Medieval Literature. Notre Dame: University of Indiana Press, 2002; orig. edn Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972.
- Eyssenhardt, Franciscus, ed. Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius Commentarium in somnium Scipionis. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1868.
- Fritz, Jean-Marie. Paysages sonores du Moyen Âge: Le versant épistémologique. Paris: Champion, 2000.
- Gaunt, Simon. Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
- Glorieux, P. ‘La Somme “Quoniam homines” d’Alain de Lille’. Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen âge 28 (1953): 113-364.
- Guillaume de Lorris, and Jean de Meun. The Romance of the Rose. Translated by Frances Horgan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
- Häring, N. ‘Alan of Lille De planctu Naturae’. Studi medievali 19, no. 2, 3rd series (1978): 797-879.
- Harwood, Britton J. ‘Dame Study and the Place of Orality in Piers Plowman’. English Language History 57, no. 1 (1990): 1-17.
- Herlinger, Jan W. (ed.). The Lucidarium of Marchetto of Padua: A Critical Edition, Translation, and Commentary Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1985.
- Hugh of Saint Victor. The Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor: A Medieval Guide to the Arts. Translated by Jerome Taylor. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991; orig. edn 1961.
- Hunter, Mary. ‘‘To Play as if from the Soul of the Composer’: The Idea of the Performer in Early Romantic Aesthetics’. Journal of the American Musicological Society 58, no. 2 (2005): 357-98. [Access via JSTOR]
- Hutchins, Edwin. Cognition in the Wild. Cambridge,MA: MIT Press, 1995.
- Kaye, Joel. Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, Market Exchange, and the Emergence of Scientific Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
- Le Guin, Elisabeth. ‘‘One Says that One Weeps, but One Does Not Weep’: Sensible, Grotesque, and Mechanical Embodiments in Boccherini’s Chamber Music’. Journal of the American Musicological Society 55, no. 2 (2002): 207-54. [Access via JSTOR]
- Leach, Elizabeth Eva. ‘The Unquiet Thoughts of Edmund Spenser’s Scudamour and John Dowland’s First Booke of Songes’. In ‘Uno gentile et subtile ingenio’: Studies in Renaissance Music in Honour of Bonnie Blackburn, edited by Gioia Filocamo and M. Jennifer Bloxam, 513-20. Turnhout: Brepols.
- ———. ‘Dead Famous: Mourning, Machaut, Music, and Renown in the Chantilly Codex’. In A Late Medieval Songbook and its Context: New Perspectives on Codex (Bibliothéque du Château de Chantilly, Ms. 564), edited by Yolanda Plumley and Anne Stone, 63-93. Turnhout: Brepols, 2009.
- ———. Sung Birds: Music, Nature, and Poetry in the Later Middle Ages. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007.
- ———. ‘Gendering the Semitone, Sexing the Leading Tone: Fourteenth-Century Music Theory and the Directed Progression’. Music Theory Spectrum 28, no. 1 (2006): 1-21.
- ———. ‘‘The Little Pipe Sings Sweetly While the Fowler Deceives the Bird’: Sirens in the Later Middle Ages’. Music and Letters 87 (2006).
- ———. ‘Singing More About Singing Less: Machaut’s Pour ce que tous (B12)’. In Machaut’s Music: New Interpretations, edited by Elizabeth Eva Leach, 111-24. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2003.
- ———. ‘Counterpoint and Analysis in Fourteenth-Century Song’, Journal of Music Theory, 44/1 (2000), 45-79. [Access via JSTOR]
- Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius. Commentary on the Dream of Scipio. Translated by William Harris Stahl. New York: Columbia University Press, 1952. Reprint, 1990.
- McKinnon, James, ed. The Early Christian Period and the Latin Middle Ages. Vol. 2, Source Readings in Music History. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 1998.
- ———. ‘Jubal vel Pythagoras, quis sit inventor musicae?’ The Musical Quarterly 64 (1978): 1-28. [Access via JSTOR]
- Memelsdorff, Pedro. ‘Lizadra donna: Ciconia, Matteo da Perugia, and the Late Medieval Ars contratenor’. In Johannes Ciconia: musicien de la transition, edited by Philippe Vendrix, 233-78. Turnhout: Brepols, 2003.
- Norman, Donald A. Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1993.
- Page, Christopher. ‘Music and the Origins of Courtliness’. In Courtly Arts and the Art of Courtliness: Selected Papers from the Eleventh Triennial Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 29 July-4 August 2004, edited by Keith Busby and Christopher Kleinhenz, 29-48. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2006.
- ———, ed. The Summa Musice: A Thirteenth-Century Manual for Singers, Cambridge Musical Texts and Monographs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
- Palfrey, Simon, and Tiffany Stern. Shakespeare in Parts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
- Perkinson, Stephen. ‘Portraits and Counterfeits: Villard de Honnecourt and Thirteenth-Century Theories of Representation’. In Excavating the Medieval Image: Manuscripts, Artists, Audiences: Essays in Honor of Sandra Hindman, edited by Nina A. Rowe and David S. Areford, 13-36. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.
- Perry, Mark. ‘Distributed Cognition’. In HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks: Towards a Multidisciplinary Science, edited by John M. Carroll, 193-224. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann, 2003.
- Plumley, Yolanda. ‘Citation and Allusion in the Late Ars Nova: The Case of the En Attendant Songs’. Early Music History 18 (1999): 287-363. [Access via JSTOR]
- Reimer, Erich. ‘Musicus und Cantor: Zur Sozialgeschichte eines musikalischen Lehrstücks’. Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 35 (1978): 1-32.
- Stone, Anne. ‘The Composer’s Voice in the Late-Medieval Song: Four Case Studies’. In Johannes Ciconia: musicien de la transition, edited by Philippe Vendrix, 169-94. Turnhout: Brepols, 2003.
- ———. ‘Music Writing and Poetic Voice in Machaut: Some Remarks on B12 and B14’. In Machaut’s Music: New Interpretations, edited by Elizabeth Eva Leach, 125-38. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2003.
- Strubel, Armand, ed. Guillaume de Lorris et Jean de Meun: Le Roman de la Rose. Paris: Librairie générale française, 1992.
- Swift, Helen J. ‘Tamainte consolation / Me fist lymagination: A Poetics of Mourning and Imagination in Late Medieval dits’. In The Erotics of Consolation: Desire and Distance in the Late Middle Ages, edited by Catherine E. Léglu and Stephen J. Milner, 141-64. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
- Sylwan, Agneta, ed. Petri Comestoris Scolastica Historia Liber Genesis. Vol. CXCI, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Medievalis. Turnhout: Brepols, 2005.
- Tribble, Evelyn. ‘Distributing Cognition in the Globe’. The Shakespeare Quarterly 56 (2005): 135-55.
- Wimsatt, James I., William W. Kibler, and Rebecca A. Baltzer, eds. Guillaume de Machaut: Le Jugement du Roy de Behaigne and Remede de Fortune. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1988.
- Woll, Stanley. Everyday Thinking: Memory, Reasoning, and Judgment in the Real World. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002.
- Ziolkowski, Jan M. Alan of Lille’s Grammar of Sex: The Meaning of Grammar to a Twelfth-Century Intellectual. Cambridge, MA: The Medieval Academy of America, 1985.