An analysis of Machaut’s B18

My chapter presenting an analysis of Guillaume de Machaut’s balade, De petit po (B18), has just been published (partial access via Google Books).

When I was approached by Michael Tenzer and asked to contribute a chapter to a follow-up volume to his Analytical Studies in World Music I have to admit to being a little mystified.   Although I was present when Nicholas Cook gave the paper that declared that ‘we are all ethnomusicologists now’, and although I work in the UK where the subdisciplinary divisions between musicology, ethnomusiology, and music theory are rather more fluid at the institutional level, I wasn’t quite prepared for a book with such a title to include a repertoire quite as historically distant as the music as Guillaume de Machaut. Nonetheless, I was happy to oblige.

Working with Michael and his co-editor on the second volume of Analytical Studies in World Music (titled, eventually, Analytical and Cross-Cultural Studies in World Music) was very rewarding. As editors they engaged in detail with my analysis and its pre-suppositions and made me make more precise my description of what I was doing in it. The result, I think, is a more limpid explanation of my method of approaching the musical material of fourteenth-century song than I have published before, and something that I hope will offer a ‘way in’ to those not primarily interested in the Middle Ages, but quite fascinated in musical structures of all kinds, as well as those interested in the text-music relations of other song repertories.

Unfortunately the publishers, Oxford University Press–an institution that is supposedly a department of my own institution–were categorical in their refusal to allow me to post a copy on my personal website or in my institutional repository (see here for my early blogpost moaning about this). I think that’s a huge shame, because the title of the book that it’s in will not make my chapter an obvious find for scholars of Machaut or for students of pre-tonal Western music theory and analysis. Luckily there is partial access to it via Google Books (click here to link to the chapter on Google Books).

The chapter is in a number of sections; the opening section on Background gives an overview of the kinds of song the piece represents, and includes an image of what it looks like in one of the manuscript sources; Analytical Method outlines my approach to the song’s underlying dyadic counterpoint; the next sections present the analysis, giving an Overview of Form and Rhythmic Organization, an Analysis of Counterpoint and Tonal Structure, Cadences and Tonal Orientation, Tonal Narrative (covering first the balade’s A section, then its B section and Refrain), an Interim Summary, a section on the Triplum Part, and a full Summary of the Analysis. The final sections give details of Text and Context, Broader Contexts, and B18 Today (a discussion of several recordings, one of which can be heard on the book’s accompanying website).

The bibliography below lists the works referred to in my chapter.


Apfel, Ernst. 1982. Diskant und Kontrapunkt in der Musiktheorie des 12. bis 15. Jahrhunderts. Wilhelmshaven: Heinrichshofen’s Verlag.

Arlt, Wulf. 1982. “Aspekte der Chronologie und des Stilwandels im französischen Lied des 14. Jahrhunderts.” In Aktuelle Fragen der musikbezogenen Mittelalterforschung: Texte zu einem Basler Kolloquium des Jahres 1975, 193-280. Winterthur: Amadeus.

Attwood, Catherine. 1999. “The Image in the Fountain: Fortune, Fiction and Femininity in the Livre du Voir Dit of Guillaume de Machaut.” Nottingham French Studies 38: 137-49.

Badel, Pierre-Yves, ed. 1995. Adam de la Halle: Oeuvres Complètes. Paris: Brodard et Taupin.

Bain, Jennifer. 2005. “Tonal Structure and the Melodic Role of Chromatic Inflections in the Music of Machaut.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 14(2): 59-88.

Bent, Margaret. 1994. “Editing Early Music: The Dilemma of Translation.” Early Music 22(3): 373-92.

———. 2002. Counterpoint, Composition, and Musica Ficta. London: Routledge.

Berger, Anna Maria Busse. 2005. Medieval Music and the Art of Memory. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Berger, Christian. 1992. Hexachord, Mensur und Textstruktur: Studien zum französischen Lied im 14. Jahrhundert. Vol. 35, Beihefte zum Archiv für Musikwissenschaft. Stuttgart: Steiner.

Bowers, Roger. 2004. “Guillaume de Machaut and His Canonry of Reims, 1338-1377.” Early Music History 23: 1-48.

Brown, Elizabeth A. R. 1989. “Diplomacy, Adultery, and Domestic Politics at the Court of Philip the Fair: Queen Isabella’s Mission to France in 1314.” In Documenting the Past: Essays in Medieval History Presented to George Peddy Cuttino, ed. J. S. Hamilton and P. J. Bradley, 53-83. Woodbridge: Boydell.

Butterfield, Ardis. 2003. “Enté: A Survey and Re-Assessment of the Term in Thirteenth and Fourteenth-Century Music and Poetry.” Early Music History 22: 67-101.

Clanchy, M. T. 1993. From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Clark, Suzannah. 2007. “’S’en dirai chançonete:’ Hearing Text and Music in a Medieval Motet.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 16(1): 31-59.

Cohen, David E. 2001. “‘The Imperfect Seeks its Perfection’: Harmonic Progression, Directed Motion, and Aristotelian Physics.” Music Theory Spectrum 23(2): 139-69.

Coleman, Joyce. 1996. Public Reading and the Reading Public in Late Medieval England and France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dömling, Wolfgang. 1969. “Zur Überlieferung der musikalischen Werke Machauts.” Die Musikforschung 22: 189-95.

———. 1970. Die mehrstimmigen Balladen, Rondeaux und Virelais von Guillaume de Machaut : Untersuchungen zum musikalischen Satz. Tutzing: Schneider.

Earp, Lawrence. 1995. Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research. Vol. 36, Garland Composer Resource Manuals. New York: Garland.

———.  2005. “Declamatory Dissonance in Machaut.” In Citation and Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Music: Learning from the Learned, ed. Suzannah Clark and Elizabeth Eva Leach, 102-22. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer.

Fallows, David. 1976. “L’origine du Ms. 1328 de Cambrai: Note au sujet de quelques nouveux feuillets, et de quelques informations supplémentaires.” Revue de Musicologie 62: 275-9.

Fuller, Sarah. 1992. “Tendencies and Resolutions: The Directed Progression in Ars Nova music.” Journal of Music Theory 36(2): 229-57.

———. 1998a. “Exploring Tonal Structure in French Polyphonic Song of the Fourteenth Century.” In Tonal Structures in Early Music, Vol. 1, ed. Cristle Collins Judd, 61-86.  New York and London: Garland.

———. 1998b. “Modal Discourse and Fourteenth-Century French Song: A ‘Medieval’ Perspective Recovered?” Early Music History 17: 61-108.

Harper-Scott, J. P. E. 2006. Edward Elgar, Modernist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hassell, James Woodrow. 1982. Middle French Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases. Toronto and Leiden: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and Brill.

Huot, Sylvia. 1997. Allegorical Play in the Old French Motet: The Sacred and Profane in Thirteenth-Century Polyphony, Figurae: Readings in Medieval Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

———. 2002. “Guillaume de Machaut and the Consolation of Poetry.” Modern Philology 100: 169-95.

Leach, Elizabeth Eva. 2000a. “Counterpoint and Analysis in Fourteenth-Century Song.” Journal of Music Theory 44(2): 45-79.

———. 2000b. “Counterpoint as an Interpretative Tool: the Case of Guillaume de Machaut’s De toutes flours (B31).” Music Analysis 19(2): 321-51.

———. 2000c. ‘Fortune’s Demesne: the Interrelation of Text and Music in Machaut’s Il mest avis (B22), De fortune (B23), and Two Related Anonymous Balades’, Early Music History 19: 47-79.

———. 2001. “Machaut’s Balades with Four Voices.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 10(2): 47-79.

———. 2002. “Death of a Lover and the Birth of the Polyphonic Balade: Machaut’s Notated Balades 1-5.” Journal of Musicology 19(3): 461-502.

———, ed. 2003. Machaut’s Music: New Interpretations. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.

———. 2006. “Gendering the Semitone, Sexing the Leading Tone: Fourteenth-Century Music Theory and the Directed Progression.” Music Theory Spectrum 28(1): 1-21.

———. 2010a. “Guillaume de Machaut, Royal Almoner: Honte, paour (B25) and Donnez, signeurs (B26) in Context.” Early Music 40.

———. 2010b. “Nature’s Forge and Mechanical Production: Writing, Reading, and Performing Song.” In Rhetoric Beyond Words, ed. Mary Carruthers, 72-95. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel. 2002. The Modern Invention of Medieval Music: Scholarship, Ideology, Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lefferts, Peter. 1995. “Signature Systems and Tonal Types in the Fourteenth-Century French Chanson.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 4(2): 117-47.

Ludwig, Friedrich, ed. 1926-1954. Guillaume de Machaut: Musikalische Werke, Publikationen älterer Musik. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

Martinez, Marie Louise. 1963. Die Musik des frühen Trecento. Tutzing: Schneider.

Maw, David. 1999. “Words and Music in the Secular Songs of Guillaume de Machaut.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oxford.

———. 2002. “Meter and Word Setting: Revising Machaut’s Monophonic Virelais.” Current Musicology 74(2): 69-102.

Memelsdorff, Pedro. 2003. “Lizadra donna: Ciconia, Matteo da Perugia, and the Late Medieval Ars contratenor.” In Johannes Ciconia: musicien de la transition, ed. Philippe Vendrix, 233-78.  Turnhout: Brepols.

Page, Christopher. 1998. “Tradition and Innovation in BN fr. 146: The Background to the Ballades.” In Fauvel Studies: Allegory, Chronicle, Music, and Image in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS français 146, ed. Margaret Bent and Andrew Wathey, 353-94. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Perkinson, Stephen. 2004. “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, ed. Nina A. Rowe and David S. Areford, 13-36. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Plumley, Yolanda. 1996. The Grammar of 14th Century Melody: Tonal Organization and Compositional Process in the Chansons of Guillaume de Machaut and the Ars Subtilior. New York and London: Garland.

Robertson, Anne Walters. 2002. Guillaume de Machaut and Reims: Context and Meaning in his Musical Works. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rothenberg, David J. 2006. “The Marian Symbolism of Spring, ca. 1200-ca. 1500: Two Case Studies.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 59(2): 319-98.

Sachs, Klaus-Jürgen. 1974. Der Contrapunctus im 14. und 15. Jahrhundert: Untersuchungen zum Terminus, zur Lehre und zu den Quellen. Ed. Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, Walter Gerstenberg, Kurt von Fischer, Wolfgang Osthoff and Arnold Schmitz. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner.

———. 1984. “Die Contrapunctus-Lehre im 14. und 15. Jahrhundert.” In Die mittelalterliche Lehre von der Mehrstimmigkeit, Vol. 5, ed. Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, F. Alberto Gallo, Max Haas, and Klaus-Jürgen Sachs, 161-256. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Stone, Anne. 2003. “Music Writing and Poetic Voice in Machaut: Some Remarks on B12 and B14.” In Machaut’s Music: New Interpretations, ed. Elizabeth Eva Leach, 125-38. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.

Upton, Elizabeth Randell. 2001. “The Chantilly Codex (F-Ch 564): The Manuscript, Its Music, Its Scholarly Reception.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Vale, Malcolm. 2001. The Princely Court: Medieval Courts and Culture in North-West Europe 1270-1380. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Welker, Lorenz. 2008. “Guillaume de Machaut, das romantische Lied und die Jungfrau Maria.” In Annäherungen: Festschrift für Jürg Stenzl zum 65 Geburtstag, ed. Ulrich Mosch, Matthias Schmidt, and Silvia Wälli. Saarbrücken: Pfau.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s