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

Vernacular song (list A) lecture 5

A brief overview of how medieval vernacular songs might inform and be informed by the social contexts that produced and consumed them.

Podlecture 5: Songs, singers, and society

Suggested select reading on political and religious organisation and conflict

  • Coss, Peter. “The Origins and Diffusion of Chivalry.” In A Companion to Chivalry, edited by Robert W. Jones and Peter Coss. 7-38. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2019.
  • Galvez, Marisa. The Subject of Crusade: Lyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150-1500. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2020.
  • Harvey, Ruth E. “Joglars and the Professional Status of the Early Troubadours.” Medium Aevum 62 (1993): 221-41.
  • Lee, Charmaine. “Richard the Lionheart: The Background to Ja nus homs pris.” Chap. 8 In Literature of the Crusades, edited by Simon Thomas Parsons and Linda M. Paterson. 134-50. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2018.
  • O’Sullivan, Daniel E. Marian Devotion in Thirteenth-Century French Lyric. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.
  • Paterson, Linda M. The World of the Troubadours: Medieval Occitan Society, c.1100-c.1300. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Paterson, Linda. Singing the Crusades: French and Occitan Lyric Responses to the Crusading Movements, 1137-1336. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2018.
  • Reynolds, Susan. Fiefs and Vassals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

On gender, desire, and subjectivity

  • Bloch, R. Howard. Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
  • Boynton, Susan, ‘Women’s Performance of the Lyric Before 1500’. In Medieval Woman’s Song. Anne L. Klinck and Anne Marie Rasmussen, eds., 47-65; 219-23. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
  • Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn. ‘Fictions of the Female Voice: The Women Troubadours’, Speculum, 67/4 (1992), 865-91.
  • Bruckner, Matilda, Laurie Shepard, and Sarah White, eds. and trans. Songs of the Women Troubadours. New York: Garland: 2000.
  • Coldwell, Maria V. ‘Jongleuresses and Trobairitz: Secular Musicians in Medieval France’. In Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick, eds., 39-61. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987.
  • Dell, Helen. Desire by Gender and Genre in Trouvère Song. Gallica. Vol. 10, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2008.
  • Doss-Quinby, Eglal, et al., eds. Songs of the Women Trouvères. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. [See especially the Introduction]
  • Gaunt, Simon. Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Gravdal, Kathryn. ‘Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Medieval Women Trobairitz’, Romanic Review, 83 (1992), 411-26.
  • Green, D. H. Women and Marriage in German Medieval Romance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Jackson, William E. Reinmar’s Women: A Study of the Woman’s Song (“Frauenlied” and “Frauenstrophe”) of Reinmar Der Alte. German Language and Literature Monographs. Vol. 9, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1981.
  • Kay, Sarah. “Desire and Subjectivity.” In The Troubadours: An Introduction, edited by Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay. 212-27. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Paden, William D., ed. The Voice of the Trobairitz: Perspectives on the Women Troubadours. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.
  • Peraino, Judith Ann. Listening to the Sirens: Musical Technologies of Queer Identity from Homer to Hedwig. Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 2005.

TEST YOURSELF

Check you know what the following are:

  1. Albigensian crusade
  2. vassal
  3. banal lordship
  4. appanage
  5. hypergamy
  6. the outremer
  7. chivalry
  8. feudalism
  9. symbolic order
  10. imaginary

GO TO LECTURE 6

Vernacular song (list A) lecture 1

This page hosts the audio for the first of my six ‘podlectures’ on Vernacular Song for List A Compulsory Topics (final year exams) at Oxford, delivered in this form because of ongoing restrictions caused by the current pandemic. It also gives links to some further reading and things mentioned in the audio.

NB: These podlectures form only part of the Vernacular Song topic as taught at Oxford, which is significantly supplemented by additional teaching in tutorials that demand extensive reading, essays, and presentations.

Podlecture 1: The Troubadours 1

Good general reading

  • Akehurst, F. R. P. and Judith M. Davis, eds. A Handbook of the Troubadours. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
  • Gaunt, Simon and Sarah Kay, eds. The Troubadours: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Rosenberg, Samuel N., Margaret Switten, and Gérard Le Vot, eds. Songs of the Troubadours and Trouvères: An Anthology of Poems and Melodies. New York and London: Garland, 1998 [book contains a CD of some of the music].
  • Stevens, Butterfield and Karp, ‘Troubadours, Trouvères’, Grove Music Online (2001), https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.28468.

Referring to individual troubadour songs

  • Pillet, Alfred, and Henry Carstens. Bibliographie der Troubadours. Halle (Saale): Max Niemeyer, 1933.

On the music

  • Aubrey, Elizabeth. The Music of the Troubadours. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
  • Switten, Margaret, ed. The Cansos of Raimon de Miraval: a Study of Poems and Melodies. Cambridge, MA, 1985.

Handy access to poems and translations

http://www.trobar.org/troubadours/

Information about recordings

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/composers/trobador/

Information about manuscript images online

https://eeleach.blog/2012/01/17/the-wonders-of-gallica-some-troubadour-and-trouvere-sources/

TEST YOURSELF

Check you know what, who, or where these are:

  1. vida
  2. razo
  3. coblas dobla
  4. Occitan
  5. Jaufre Rudel, or, if you have a subscription, try Grove online
  6. Bernart de Ventadorn, or, if you have a subscription, try Grove online
  7. senhal, and, if you have good Italian and are feeling generous, why not translate this page for English Wikipedia as the best thing in English is paywalled on Grove Music Online.
  8. PC numbers
  9. Eleanor of Aquitaine
  10. Beaumont Palace, Oxford

CONTINUE TO PODLECTURE 2

File:Carta Occitania.pdf

New Publication: The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music

Long-gestating co-editing project finally published as part of 700-page book. Continue reading “New Publication: The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music”

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: Continue reading “Review of a new collection of essays on Adam de la Halle”

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?”