Category Archives: publications

Article on Jeux-partis and demandes d’amours now out

The jeu-parti is a lyric poem in which two individuals who usually name each other at the beginning of each stanza debate a ‘would you rather’-style question: would you rather see your lady naked from the waist up or from the waist down? would you rather have a husband who is great at jousting but is always away at tournaments or one who stays at home with you but is rubbish at a tourney? And so on. Some of the questions are racy, some silly, some fairly courtly, but the jeu-parti stages a medieval precursor of the rap battle for two poet-composers to thrash it out, complete with insults, ribbing, and boasting.

Less formally, the demande d’amour is, literally a Love Question, often similar to the sorts of dilemmas in the jeux-partis, but which is posed in prose and rather simpler in format. It clearly amused courtiers who wanted to play the game themselves rather than merely listen to two performers singing about it.

It has been assumed that the informal prose practice of Love Questions pre-dated the more formal practice of the jeu-parti, but the sources for the former are almost all later than the latter — with one exception: the Bodleian library manuscript Douce 308, which I’ve been working on for years now, has the oldest collection of Love Questions and some of the latest collections of jeux-partis. In this article, I examine what these can tell us about the relationship between these two kinds of courtly entertainment.

The lovely people at OUP have given me a link that I can post here on my blog which should take you to a free version of the text. The full reference is:

Elizabeth Eva Leach, “Which Came First, the Demandes d’amours Or the Jeu Parti? Evidence from Bodleian Library MS, Douce 308″, Music & Letters, 102/1 (2021): 1-29.

Music and Philosophy in the Middle Ages

My chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy has just appeared.

BL, Harley 4335, French translation of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy

This large book project is now out and my contribution forms chapter 7 and covers music and philosophy in the Middle Ages. OUP hasn’t given me any sort of access that I can post here, sadly, so I hope most of you have institutional access.

In short, the chapter outlines some of the varied relationships between music and philosophy in the Middle Ages. As one of the disciplines of the mathematical quadrivium, musica concerns issues of acoustics but the notation and ontology of music additionally relate to grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Furthermore, music is related to the boundaries between human and non-human animals and overlaps with, while not being completely subsumed by, sonic practices, something I cover in a subsection called ‘Unsound Studies’, which encapsulates some of my problems with Sound Studies’s treatment of historical materials!

Medieval music was also implicated in writings on ethics, which give evidence of music’s role in gendered and political identity formation, which I treat here a little bit. Finally, the chapter considers what sort of knowledge musical knowledge was in the Middle Ages and why modern thinking might struggle with various aspects of music’s relation to philosophy in this period.

Full reference:

Leach,  Elizabeth Eva. ‘The Middle Ages.’ Chap. 7 In The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, edited by Tomás McAuley, Nanette Nielsen, Jerrold Levinson, with Ariana Phillips-Hutton as Associate Editor, pp. 137-56. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199367313.013.8

Review of edition of medieval motets in a songbook

My review of a very interesting recent edition of motets in Trouvère chansonnier T has just been published.

I can’t tweet this link directly, but OUP allows me to post it here. It should give access to the full text of my review of Motets from the Chansonnier de Noailles. Ed. Gaël Saint-Cricq with Eglal Doss-Quinby and Samuel N. Rosenberg. Pp.192 (A-R Editions, Middleton, Wis., 2017) $360. ISBN 978-0-89579-862-6 in Music & Letters 99/2 (2018), 281-285. Full text link.

Review of book on Trecento song texts

My review of  Lauren McGuire Jennings’s book on Trecento song texts has just been published.
Many of you can get this through your library if it gets JRMA, in which case please use these links:

Elizabeth Eva Leach
Journal of the Royal Musical Association

Volume 140, Issue 2 pp. 445-449 | DOI: 10.1080/02690403.2015.1089022

Taylor and Francis, who publish JRMA, have given me at link to the full text, which is restricted to 49 downloads. Please only download this text if you’re really going to read the review. When the 49 downloads are done, I’m assuming that the link will no longer work and/or you’ll be asked for money. The link is here: Free download (49 copies only)