My article treating a ‘boring’ song by Blondel de Nesle has just been published by Early Music.
When I wrote the article that appeared in the special medieval issue of Music Analysis last year, one of the original case studies was cut from the final version. This was partly because the article was too long, partly because the song I cut didn’t really fit with the things I was arguing there about Blondel’s careful crafting of intersecting, overlapping, and interacting musical and verbal structures. The cut song, Mes cuers me fait conmencier, was basically rather straightforward, almost boring: in a standard kind of verse form, with a melody that seemed compiled of the commonest defaults of the genre. Although included in the standard modern editions, no one seemed to have specifically discussed or recorded the song since the Middle Ages.
And yet… And yet, there is something weird about it, but it only comes out when you think about performing it. I tried to do this by thinking with some of the scholarly literature on historical re-enactment, an idea that arose in discussing the ‘impasse of HIP’ with my graduate student Jacob Mariani (this is explained in the article; HIP = Historically Informed Performance, so-called authenticity). At the moment (first half of 2020) I’m giving a few presentations based on this material and audiences are consistently amazed at how much there is in this song when one considers the performance possibilities it throws up. Now, we don’t know anything much about how trouvère song was performed, so what am I talking about!? Well, you’ll have to read the article to find out! It has links to some audio-visual material too. Luckily Early Music has sent me a link, which should enable you to view it online or download a PDF. Enjoy!
Elizabeth Eva Leach, “Imagining the un-encoded: staging affect in Blondel de Nesle’s Mes cuers me fait conmencier” Early Music, volume 48, Issue 1, February 2020, pp. 29–40 https://doi.org/10.1093/em/caz092
It’s part of a collection of articles introduced by Mikhail Lopatin that take renewed perspectives on word-music relations in medieval music.
Thank you…. and for the performances… now tweeted… looks like New College Chapel?