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Melodic and textual types in French monophonic song, ca. 1500

Melodic and textual types in French monophonic song, ca. 1500

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Title: Melodic and textual types in French monophonic song, ca. 1500
Author: Rahn, Jay
Abstract: Several monophonic songs in French survive from the period 1480-1520. These songs appear in about twenty manuscript and printed sources of the time. Most of these sources can be assigned fairly precise dates. The songs found in these sources are inter-related by a network of concordances but are seldom found in collections of courtly poetry and vice versa. This suggests that the monophonic sources represent a distinctive tradition of poetry. The songs are also associated with different social groups than are courtly products: preachers (e.g., Jean Tisserand and Olivier Maillard), nuns (e.g., the Madelonnettes), law clerks (e.g., members of the Basoche), itinerant entertainers, and members of the general public -- both literate (but not necessarily wealthy) and illiterate -- composed, performed, or listened to the pieces. Monophonic songs differ considerably in prosody and diction from elite poetry and in melodic style from contemporary polyphonic works based on courtly poems. Nevertheless, the systematic bases of both the courtly and monophonic repertoires are substantially similar allowing comparisons to be made between them. Furthermore, recurrent features of the monophonic corpus generally accord well with systems of versification and music theory expounded at the time by writers such as Pierre Fabri, Henri de Croy, L'Infortuné, Johannes Tinctoris, Franchinus Gaffurius, Pietro Aaron, and Heinrich Glarean.

Musical features selected for analysis include meter, text underlay, phrase lengths, range (or ambitus), maneria (or mode), phrase finals (or differentiae), initial tones, cadence formulas, melismas linking phrases, leaps (i.e., disjunct motion), form, and variation. The melo-textual forms of the songs are related to the formes fixes: ballade, virelai, and rondeau, as well as contemporary developments of these (including the bergerette and chanson jolie). One can discern stereotyped rhyme schemes and patterns of phrase finals and melodic repetition. These appear to be described best in terms of a hierarchical arrangement of prosodic, rhythmic and tonal units, and all three types of organization are found to be closely connected with one another. The polyphonic songs with which the monophonic corpus is compared consist of settings of courtly rondeaux by Compère, Agricola, and Josquin, as well as other rondeau settings which appear in Petrucci's Odhecaton and Canti B. Throughout the study, the songs of Paris, Bib. nat., f. fr. 9346, the "Bayeux manuscript", are found to resemble the polyphonic pieces more than the monophonic songs of MS 12744 of the same collection. The latter in turn are found to resemble printed collections of monophonic song texts more closely in prosody than "Bayeux." Some special features of the study include the use of statistical tests (e.g., chi-square, Student's t, x- and z-scores, and r rank), an annotated index of the monophonic songs, transcriptions of all the previously unpublished texts, and re-transcriptions of MSS 12744 and Bayeux. Finally, a minimal list of undefined concepts required to describe the prosodic and musical regularities of the songs is developed and the findings corroborated by comparing the corpus with monophonic songs preserved in MS Dijon, Bib. mun. 517 (ca. 1475).
Type: Thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/2526
Published: [New York: s.n.]
Date: 1978

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