Review of a new collection of essays on Adam de la Halle

This clerihew didn’t make it into my review of this new volume of essays on Adam de la Halle:

In the office with new pal—
Adam de la Halle;
He’s been dead for rather long,
But doesn’t pong.

But actually, when Adam died is one of the matters of debate, as you’ll see in my review, in which I play devil’s advocate about the rationale for the current dating. There’s clearly much more to say about Adam’s music and poetry as this volume makes plain. This book is such an expensive volume that, as I am at an institution that has an electronic version, I will be passing my review copy on to an Early Career Researcher.

The journal Early Music has given me a link to share for free access to my review here:

Elizabeth Eva Leach, “Adam de la Halle and Arras”, review of Jennifer Saltzstein (ed.), Musical culture in the world of Adam de la Halle (Leiden: Brill, 2019),€210.

Imagining the performance of trouvère song

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, Advance Articles, 28 February 2020.

[It’s currently in the Advance Article section, but I’ll renew this reference when it goes into an actual issue. It will be part of a collection of articles introduced by Mikhail Lopatin that take renewed perspectives on word-music relations in medieval music.]


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! Continue reading “Hey, shepherd, stop your boastful song!”

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”

Sorting out the works of Gautier d’Espinal

Wikipedia’s list of Gautier’s works looked a bit thin to me, so I’ve edited the page (fingers crossed the edits persist!) Continue reading “Sorting out the works of Gautier d’Espinal”