Do trouvère melodies mean anything?

My article on three songs by Blondel de Nesle just appeared in Music Analysis.

Elizabeth Eva Leach, “Do Trouvère Melodies Mean Anything?”. Music Analysis (2019): 3-46.

I began to be interested in the analysis of trouvère song when I started teaching it nearly a decade ago. When I was on sabbatical in 2013, I planned to analyse the complete songs of Blondel de Nesle, a composer-poet chosen, pretty much at random, as an early example with what I thought was a manageable output. I didn’t manage to finish the work, partly because I injured my foot at the start of my sabbatical, which slowed me down a bit, but also because the task suddenly seemed huge and I felt I needed to know much more about the trouvère repertoire in general. So, instead, I wrote an application for what would become my successful Leverhulme grant to work on Douce 308. I also wrote a short article on four of Blondel’s songs, laying out a basic method, and trying to debunk common claims and assumptions about monophony, the musical text of trouvère song, the significance of variants, and other things that I find myself disagreeing with when I read about trouvère song in the existing scholarly literature…

I didn’t finish the article or send it off right away, but sat on it until I’d done enough of the Douce 308 work to feel a bit clearer about what I wanted to say. Now the article has appeared, with one case study fewer than originally, in a lovely special double-issue of Music Analysis devoted to  Medieval Music Analysis and including articles by Mikhail Lopatin, Henry T. Drummond, and Joseph W. Mason, scholars and thinkers I have worked with closely over the past few years, frequently discussing issues relating to early-music analysis. I recommend reading the whole journal double-issue, of course!

With apologies, you will need an institutional subscription to access the article.

As sort of compensation, I’m uploading the two of the article’s music examples that give the complete melodies of two of the three songs I discuss. First, here’s Onques maiz nus hom ne chanta:

And here’s En tous tans que vente bise:

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 2: JP4

A second 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 2: JP4”

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”

Performing jeux-partis with graindelavoix

This second year of my Leverhulme project will involve a workshop with performers designed to help me think about my unnotated manuscript in a more musical way. Continue reading “Performing jeux-partis with graindelavoix”

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”