Hey, shepherd, stop your boastful song!

My article on a two-stanza pastourelle in Douce 308 has just appeared in Plainsong and Medieval Music. Here with added sound files!

The pastourelle subsection of the Douce 308 chansonnier section is one of the most fascinating parts of the manuscript and one I plan to return to in future work. One of the more curious items in the section is a two-stanza lyric that presents a dialogue between a knight and a shepherd in which the knight has overheard the shepherd singing a refrain and has understood this refrain as a sexual boasting. In the second stanza, the shepherd refutes this, claiming that far from a personal boast, he was just singing a little song. This two stanza song effectively ‘songifies’ two voices from a motet complex that has been widely discussed and performed and which may possibly originally have been two motets on the same tenor designed to be performed one after another as a sort of dialogue. All quite intriguing.

The article here is paywalled, but if you don’t have an institutional subscription, CUP allows free access to a read-only version of the pdf. The full reference for bibliographic citation is:

Leach, Elizabeth Eva (2019), ‘Adapting the Motet(s)? The case of Hé bergier in Oxford MS Douce 308′, Plainsong and Medieval Music, 28 (2), 133-47. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0961137119000032.

The article doesn’t have any sound files, but as a supplement to the article Joseph W. Mason and Lachlan Hughes recorded versions of the song/motet that they have kindly allowed me to upload here.

  1. A version of the two-stanza song in a not precisely measured rhythm, as if the motet melody derives from a non-mensurally notated song version, now lost.
  2. A version of the song sung as a motet with the motet repeated for the second stanza.


Performance workshop for late-medieval song

Last month (June 2019), I took part in a two-day performance workshop organised by Joseph W. Mason and attended by various other people I’ve worked with over the past decade or so. I introduced and advised on performances of a song by Blondel de Nesle (people who have heard me sing will be happy to hear that I delegated that task to others far better qualified!).  Joe has written an excellent account of the entire event, obviating the need for me to do so here. I refer you enthusiastically to his blogpost, which has embedded audio-visual footage of the public concert that resulted. Enjoy!


Do trouvère melodies mean anything?

My article on three songs by Blondel de Nesle just appeared in Music Analysis. Continue reading “Do trouvère melodies mean anything?”

Performance workshop 3: JP30

A third post from the performance workshop with graindelavoix, sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust and held at St Hugh’s College, Oxford in March 2017. Continue reading “Performance workshop 3: JP30”

Performance Workshop 1: JP27a

A first post from the performance workshop with graindelavoix, sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust and held at St Hugh’s College, Oxford in March 2017. Continue reading “Performance Workshop 1: JP27a”

The source materials for large medieval chansonniers

How were large collections of lyric poetry (with or without music) assembled?
Continue reading “The source materials for large medieval chansonniers”

The Philosopher’s Pony Play

MRAH Aquamanile Aristote et Phyllis 261211.jpg
Image by VassilPersonal work, CC0

For all that he is The Philosopher in the later Middle Ages, the most striking iconographical depictions of Aristotle from the period are of him on all fours, being ridden by a woman. Continue reading “The Philosopher’s Pony Play”