International conference

Composer{s} in the Middle Ages

Université de Rouen, 23 — 24 mai 2019
French version

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Thursday 23 May

9:00 Reception of the attendees, coffee
9:40 Word of welcome (organisers)


9:50-10:20 Mark Everist (University of Southampton) Facere, componere, invenire: Living as a Composer in the Middle Ages

We might like to think that we’ve moved a long way from the point where we abandoned appropriating the 19th and 20th-century concept of ‘the composer’ for the middle ages, and where we recognise that a composer could be responsible for various forms of collaborative work, adaptation, reworking – scribal and otherwise – contrafactum and recomposition in all its forms. But you could argue that this is really just the beginning of a very long journey. We still prize questions of attribution and ascription highly – and rightly so – and however much we would like to speak in terms of the ‘master of the English motets in the last fascicle of Montpellier’, for example, the evidence of our conference here is that there is a certain comfort in speaking about Adam de la Halle, the named authors of the grand chant courtois or about Guillaume de Machaut.

Obstacles to talking about a ‘composer’ in the middle ages, as opposed to the act of composition – in its strict etymological sense – are great. Textual instabilities of all sorts constantly seem to enforce questions related to the hierarchy and priority of texts rather that to the individuals and networks of agents that were responsible; and the position is complicated further by how little is known about the relationship between poets and the music that embodies their words – surely different from one genre to another, but in ways that remain bafflingly elusive.

Session 1 - Composers as Social and Cultural Groups

Chair: Étienne Anheim (EHESS)

10:20-11:00 Brianne Dolce (Yale University/Universiteit Gent) Who Composed in Medieval Arras? Prosopographical Possibilities in the Necrology of the Confraternity of Jongleurs and Bourgeois

The Confraternity of Jongleurs and Bourgeois has long been credited as the institution largely responsible for the musical and literary output of Arras in the high Middle Ages. Beyond the many trouvères who were members of the Confraternity, scholars have also linked various unattributed motets and songs from Arras with the institution (Berger, 1979; Saint-Cricq, Doss-Quinby, Rosenberg, 2017). However, study of the Confraternity's most famous document, a necrology, has focused almost exclusively on tracing names of the city's known poets and composers (Berger, 1970). The ten thousand names alongside the likes of Jean Bodel have thus been unexplored for the clues that they hold about questions of authorship and musical life.

In this paper, I shed light on the names of Confraternity members whose contributions to the musical culture of Arras have gone unacknowledged. I then consider how a prosopographical study of the Confraternity's membership alters our understanding of what made an Arrageois composer in the Middle Ages. A prosopographical analysis of the necrology reveals that Confraternity members included a network of, among others, jongleurs, instrumentalists, town criers, and liturgical musicians. In particular, women in the Confraternity represent well the cross section of secular and liturgical musicians in names such as 'Berta Joculatrix' and 'Cantrix Liegars.' These thus far overlooked members suggest a musical culture in Arras that exceeds the expectations set by the repertory of trouvère song and jeux-partis. Moreover, other members of the community provide insights that expand our knowledge of the cultural conditions in which the city's music and poetry were composed.

With this information, I suggest that the Confraternity was indeed a site of composition, but one that must be expanded to include liturgical music and rituals. As there is only a single name in the necrology that explicitly qualifies a member as a composer ('Au Sauvage le Trouvere,' 1305), I argue that the Confraternity's musicians, especially those who played a key role in religious communities, should be treated on the same level as its vernacular poet-composers. The composers that emerge from this study diverge from those that we normally associate with Arras, but illuminate how the Confraternity's role in the creation and realization of music in Arras was far more extensive than has been previously shown.

11:00-11:20 Coffee break
11:20-12:00 Lori Kruckenberg (University of Oregon) Compositio’ in the hands of cantrices: Two Case Studies on Musical Composition by Women Religious in Ottonian and Salian Germany

Before the middle of the 12th century, relatively few chants can be linked to their makers. There are, to be sure, notable exceptions, with the number of chants ascribed to specific individuals commonly ranging anywhere from one to two chants to as many as one or two dozen. The large corpus by Hildegard of Bingen, of course, stands apart from most examples of this same period, with her work presenting a unique situation in terms of the sheer number of chants by an individual, the identity of a female composer, and the descriptions related to her process of composition.

This paper offers new evidence concerning women composers of chant from before the time of Hildegard. Specifically, it presents a case study on a chant by a St. Gall ‘canoness’ from second quarter of the tenth century, and a case study on a redacted troper by an anonymous Benedictine nun for her convent of Kaufungen, ca. 1120. Collectively these two case studies consider types of compositio in terms of re-composition, adaptation, scribal reworkings, and contrafacting of existing liturgical chant. Through a close reading of a network of contemporary verbal accounts and analysis of the respective manuscript traditions and select chants, this pair of case studies permits a look at the legitimacy and value of such compositional practices in general, and more specifically, as managed by their female agents.

12:00-12:40 Mary Wolinski (Western Kentucky University) Philip the Chancellor, William of Auvergne, and the Preacher’s Art

In an era during which most polyphonic motets were written anonymously, Philip the Chancellor has been the exception. In his magisterial study and edition of his motets, Thomas Payne has found more motet attributions to Philip than to any other poet of the thirteenth century. Furthermore, Philip’s Latin motet poems belong to the first generation of such works. His creation of polyphonic prosulas (syllabically texted versions of melismatic organa and conducti) and some of the earliest Latin motets has led Prof. Payne to credit Philip with the invention of the motet itself.

Certainly, organum provided the musical structure of these early motets. But, were there additional creative activities that may have contributed to the “habits of thought” (D. L. d’Avray, The Preaching of the Friars, p. 239) of a motet poet? In the case of Philip, he not only wrote motet poems and scholarly works, but he was also a prolific preacher. Over 700 sermons are attributed to him. Philip’s opponent, William of Auvergne, the bishop of Paris, likewise has hundreds of sermons to his credit, as well as treatises on the subject, most importantly De Faciebus mundi.

Attended by a wide audience of all stations in life, preaching was an important performative activity of clerics. Most sermons were given during the mass and were followed by concluding formulas. In addition, sermons were also preached in non-liturgical contexts. Known as “collations,” these sermons were delivered in late-afternoon gatherings of the university in Paris. Sermons were also given elsewhere at various gatherings of clergy and laity. And, quite interestingly, sermons were undergoing a revolution in content and structure around the time that motets were making their appearance in the early decades of the thirteenth century. Innovative techniques included the explication of a thematic verse from scripture or liturgy, the distinctio, or key word, that the sermon would elaborate, and the divisio, a heading to a section that could be made with rhyming words. These aspects of the new sermon type will be discussed in reference to the work of Philip the Chancellor and William of Auvergne. The sermonic aspect of the motet poet’s work should be of interest to scholars of motets and can suggest further directions of study and appreciation of how Latin motets were performed and understood.

12:40-14:00 Lunch

Session 2 - Composers as Individuals: Creativity and Inspiration

Chair: Mark Everist (University of Southampton)

14:10-14:50 David Maw (Oriel College, Oxford) Individuating Dissonance: ‘Composerly’ Identity in Fourteenth-Century French Secular Music

Most analysis of fourteenth-century polyphony has focused on methods of reduction. Such analysis takes the complex surface of the music and eliminates the details to arrive at an underlying succession of consonances. It tends to turn the corpus of individual and differentiated musical works into a set of more-or-less similar harmonic models: all the pieces come to seem broadly similar. Yet what is often most striking to the listener of this repertory are high levels of individuality between particular songs and at a broader level between the styles of different composers. In the music, it is the surface of melodic activity that captures the attention; and in the independence of the individual voices, a high level of dissonance is frequently generated. This situation poses a number of questions that have yet to be properly considered, amongst which: what sorts of dissonance did particular composers exploit; to what degree was dissonance an individuating factor between them? These questions will be addressed in this paper in relation to the music of Guillaume de Machaut and its context in the secular repertory of fourteenth-century France.

14:50-15:30 Charles Brewer (Florida State University) Planctus ante nescia: Questions of Attribution and Inspiration

The questions concerning anonymity and conflicting attributions are particularly relevant to a deeper appreciation of the influential Marian lament, Planctus ante nescia. Attribution has been an important subject in discussions of medieval Latin song, as seen, for example, in the work of Peter Dronke and David Traill on Philip the Chancellor and Peter of Blois, but apparently anonymity was not a significant problem during the Middle Ages as witnessed by the many collections of works with few or no ascriptions, such as the contents of the Codex Buranus.

In the case of Planctus ante nescia, modern scholarship has apparently settled the question of attribution, and in reference works and recent critical scholarship it is now consistently ascribed to Godefroy of St. Victor. This ascription, however, is based upon a set of false conclusions that began in the eighteenth century and have been repeated since then. Based on a comprehensive examination of the extant manuscripts for the Planctus and a comparison with the one song, Unius numinis, that Godefroy claimed as his own, this paper demonstrates that he is not the author or composer.

Through an examination of the two medieval sources that suggest the author was only ‘quidam’ (someone) or, in the case of the anonymous prologue, an old monk who was divinely inspired by the Virgin Mary, the Planctus can be accepted as an anonymous but ‘huius celestis atque melliflui carminis’ (‘celestial and melliflous song’) that profoundly expressed Mary’s lament at the Cross. Rather than attribution, the only medieval discussion of this work considers the question of “inspiration” more significant. A deeper consideration of that inspiration can lead to a more nuanced understanding of the significance that this particular planctus held for the creators of medieval anthologies, dramas, and other lyrics, a significance of greater import than the name of any author.

15:30-15:50 Coffee break

Session 3 - Composers in a Network: Citation and Self-Citation

Chair: Yolanda Plumley (University of Exeter)

15:50-16:30 Catherine A. Bradley (University of Oslo) Adam de la Halle’s Intergeneric Self-Citations

Self-citations have long been recognised within the corpus of the thirteenth-century trouvère and composer of polyphony Adam de la Halle. Adam’s unusual ‘complete works manuscript’ (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France fr. 25566, dated to the 1290s) contains many recurrences of musical and textual materials across the source’s discrete generic groupings: refrains re-appear across monophonic songs, polyphonic rondeaux, and the musically-interpolated copy of the romance Renart le nouvel. Particularly remarkable are the instances of polyphonic refrain citations apparent between several of Adam’s motets and his three-voice rondeaux. Recent scholarship by Ardis Butterfield and Mark Everist has tended to presume that the direction of these citations operates from motet to rondeau. This paper proposes the opposite chronology, reflecting on the compositional consequences of polyphonic citation of rondeau refrains in motets whose tenor voices—unlike the lowest voices of freely-conceived rondeau—simultaneously represent quotations of plainchant tenors.

Newly identifying a plainchant source for the tenor of Aucun se sont loé/A Dieu commant/SUPER TE, I propose that Adam deliberately sought out the SUPER TE tenor quotation that is unique to this motet in order to enable polyphonic self-citation: he selected the obscure plainchant quotation because of its potential to stand in for the lowest voice of his pre-existing polyphonic rondeaux, A Dieu commant. I argue that a similar procedure operates in the choice of the vernacular song Nus n’iert ja jolis as the tenor of motet recorded uniquely in the seventh fascicle of the Montpellier codex (Montpellier, Bibliothèque interuniversitaire, Section de médecine, H. 196, dated to the 1290s), Dame bele/Fi, mari/NUS N’IERT JA JOLIS. This motet is absent from Adam’s ‘complete works’ manuscript, and is therefore nowhere attributed to him, but it opens with a polyphonic citation of the refrain of his three-voice rondeau Fi, mari.

This paper reflects on various aspects of Adam’s compositional practices and his status as a composer figure. The previous presumption that any shared polyphonic material between motets and Adam’s three-voice rondeaux probably originated in motets has, to some extent, diluted his authorial identity. If motets in fascicle 7 of the Montpellier Codex can be shown to contain citations from Adam’s oeuvre, this asserts Adam’s presence as an author figure within a Liber motettorum that otherwise, and conventionally, contains no attributions to specific composers. Whether or not such motets are actually by Adam himself, or alternatively represent external engagements with his output, the existence of such pieces indicates that authorial personalities may lurk just beneath the surface of outwardly anonymous collections.

16:30-17:10 Christopher Callahan (Illinois Wesleyan University) Les premiers manuscrits d’auteur comme témoignages du réseau poético-social

Les chansonniers du troisième quart du siècle, à savoir MTKNPVX, organisés par auteur plutôt que par genre, constituent en quelque sorte des collections d’auteur avant la lettre. Mais du flou d’attributions tantôt sûres, tantôt incertaines, tantôt erronées qui les caractérise, le livret de Thibaut de Champagne émerge comme un phare dans la brume. Non seulement le corpus de Thibaut fut établi, à quelques exceptions près, par le MS Mt et confirmé par les chansonniers compilés dans la décennie suivante, (les attributions douteuses se trouvant principalement dans les chansonniers lorrains), mais la maîtrise du roi trouvère d’une grande variété de genres lyriques a donné le ton à ses confrères et émules, qui ont suivi son exemple. Nous signalons à ce titre Guillaume le Vinier, son interlocuteur dans un jeu parti et dont le corpus montre la même ampleur au niveau générique.

Or le chansonnier de Thibaut IV n’est sans doute pas la plus ancienne collection d’auteur qui ait existé, vu que l’inventaire des biens de Clémence de Hongrie (1328) a cité, parmi les quarante manuscrits de la bibliothèque de cette reine de France récemment disparue, un « chansonnier de Monseigneur Gace Brulé ». Quoique la date de constitution de ce recueil ainsi que son contenu précis doivent rester à jamais inconnus, la possibilité que le roi de Navarre fût lui-même responsable de ce libellus établirait une filiation directe entre maître et disciple, soulignant encore davantage l’importance de Thibaut comme charnière dans l’évolution de l’art lyrique.

Les jeux-partis de Thibaut permettent d’une manière concrète d’apercevoir son influence sur la prochaine génération de trouvères. De même, sa participation au réseau de contrafacture—aussi bien par sa réputation que par ses contacts personnels—atteste de son rôle de chef de file des trouvères. Dans cette communication, je poursuivrai les traces de cette filiation, à partir de Gace et par le prestige de ces deux collections d’auteur, chez les trouvères contemporains et plus tardifs. Cet interrogatoire visera évidemment les imitations et les contrafacta, mais reconnaîtra également mes recherches actuelles sur l’association de formules textuelles et mélodiques chez Gace, Thibaut et Guillaume le Vinier.

19:30 Conference dinner

Friday 24 May

Session 4 - Proclaimed Composers: Attribution, Authorship, Authorial Personna

Chair: Anna Zayaruznaya (Yale University)

9:00-9:40 Manon Louviot (Universiteit Utrecht) Genre, Self-identification and Authoriality in the Motet Ferre solet/Anatheos de gracia/Ave Maria (14th century)

Le motet au XIVe siècle est un genre dans lequel l’acte de composer est particulièrement marqué : outre l’important travail de conception préalable, son élaboration tend à être individuelle et la nécessité de le mettre par écrit pour pouvoir le chanter sépare ce genre des principes de l’improvisation. Il n’est donc pas surprenant que les compositeurs aient choisi le motet pour (littéralement) s’inscrire dans leurs pièces, tels Marchettus de Padoue dans Ave regina celorum/ Mater innocentie ou Philippe de Vitry dans Cum statua/Hugo Hugo/ Magister invidie. Parmi les motets du XIVe siècle qui contiennent une auto-représentation – souvent implicite – du compositeur, le motet Ferre solet/Anatheos de gracia/Ave Maria, transmis dans une seule source fragmentaire (F-DOU Ms 1105/3, fragment 74.4) fait figure d’exception.

En effet, dans ce motet récemment découvert, le compositeur (jusque-là inconnu), non seulement signe, mais également date sa pièce par le moyen d’un acrostiche. Cette attribution inédite questionne la façon dont le genre du motet permet au compositeur de s’identifier au sein même de sa pièce, ce que la présente communication propose d’explorer.

Tout d’abord, la polytextualité joue un rôle central dans ce processus d’auto-identification puisque le compositeur utilise des moyens littéraires pour se représenter. De plus, en tirant profit de la dimension religieuse du motet, le compositeur associe une demande d’intercession auprès de la Vierge Marie à une revendication de la paternité de sa pièce, soulignant ainsi sa conscience d’individu créateur. Cela est renforcé dans la transmission écrite du motet Ferre solet : en effet, l’inscription littéraire du compositeur est visuellement mise en valeur dans les fragments de Douai, témoin de la volonté de permanence de son nom avec son œuvre et par conséquent, du lien étroit entre compositeur, copiste et transmission écrite. Enfin, la complexité musicale du motet – qui interagit avec sa notation sur le parchemin – met en lumière les raisons sociales (en plus des nécessités religieuses) de s’identifier dans une pièce.

La comparaison avec d’autres motets contenant une attribution de compositeur (notamment les motets de musiciens), permettra finalement de souligner la singularité remarquable du motet Ferre solet parmi les motets du XIVe siècle. Ainsi, en étudiant le motet comme moyen d’auto-attribution d’une composition, cette communication démontrera comment les compositeurs, en se définissant dans leurs propres pièces, nous aident aujourd’hui à mieux définir un genre musical.

9:40-10:20 Margaret Bent (All Souls College, Oxford) Paradox and Typology in Late-medieval Ascriptions and Attributions

I propose a survey of the status of ascriptions (direct testimony on or in the compositions) and attributions (on indirect or external authority) in 14th- and 15th-century polyphony.

With the notable exceptions of Adam de la Halle, Jehan de Lescurel, Guillaume de Machaut, composer ascriptions in polyphonic manuscripts are very rare before c.1400. Chantilly and Old Hall are among the first anthology manuscripts to name composers. The Italian manuscripts of trecento repertory that devote sections to individual composers date from after 1400, notably Squarcialupi with its famous composer portraits. Exceptions to anonymous transmission include the embedding of names of composers (or dedicatees) as acrostics (for motets that may be by Marchetto, Jacopo) or directly within texts (B de Cluni in Apollinis), a strategy which increased around and after 1400 (Sub Arturo plebs, Alma proles, Argi vices, Ciconia motets, and Du Fay).

Before c. 1400, attributions widely accepted for specific polyphonic works (to Leonin, Perotin, Petrus de Cruce, Philippe de Vitry) derive from treatises, and from text-only manuscripts. Gerves du Bus and Chaillou de Pesstain are named as authors of verbal texts in the interpolated Fauvel, but musical composers are not named. Despite the exceptions, musical authorship seems, paradoxically, not to be a primary criterion of classification or interest for compilers of polyphony, by contrast with verbal authorship in general. If compositions were anonymous in the musical sources, on what authority did theorists attribute them? A further paradox is that music examples in treatises (notably Aucun ont trouve) sometimes seem to be transmitted (often garbled) via other theorists, not always referring back to a musical source.

Composer groupings in anthology manuscripts increase from around 1400 (Zacar, Ciconia et al). It is usually possible to distinguish between the planned assembly of a composer section and, on the other hand, where copying is in order of receipt, grouping of works by one composer which arrived together. But it is a further paradox that indexes in polyphonic manuscripts are never classified by composer, only by genre or alphabetically, even when composer groupings sometimes occur within manuscripts.

Many composers of the 15th century are known for only one or two works. It is not credible that they did not write more; this is some measure of what is lost. Since the same training in active counterpoint was needed for singers and readers of the notation as for composition, it is almost certain that singers could and often did compose. The careers of the likes of Mathieu Hanelle and Orfeo de Padua have been overlooked because no compositions ascribed to them happen to survive. On the other hand, there are several composers for whom we depend almost entirely on the fragile testimony of one manuscript; many others must be lost along with their sources.

The paper will also consider the authorship implications of added parts and collaborative composition, of sobriquets or playful ascriptions, and of corrected ascriptions.

10:20-11:00 Yolanda Plumley (University of Exeter) Composing Ars nova Chansons: Encounters between Poets, Composers and Minstrels

Although we see a notable rise in the number of attributions for French songs in late fourteenth and early fifteenth century manuscript sources, these designations leave many questions unanswered. For instance, does an ascription name the author of the lyrics or that of the music, or should we assume that it names a single person who was responsible for both elements, as was the case—we assume—of poet-composer Guillaume de Machaut? Machaut is sometimes described for this reason as ‘the last of the trouvères’, and we are often told that after him there was a parting of ways of these skills as the musical style became more complex, leaving lyric poetry to be finally emancipated from the yoke of music. But to what extent did songsters continue to be proficient in both arts as the Ars nova polyphonic style was applied to the genre, or did collaborations between poets and composers become the norm? And what about the musical background of those who made the musical settings? In general, many of the names for which we have at least some biographical clues point to musicians from a literate, clerical background and who followed careers in the Church, as was the case of Machaut himself and those composers from the Chantilly codex who have been identified with singers from the princely or papal household chapels. But how far did that kind of musician intersect with the other sorts who frequented court and town, notably, with minstrels, and what contribution might the latter have made to the composition as well as the performance of songs of the Ars nova and Ars subtilior tradition?

In this paper, I shall consider three case studies to explore these questions. The first concerns a song by Machaut, his Ballade 33, which appears in his Voir Dit, where the poet-narrator’s comments provide the tantalising suggestion that the music was inspired by the minstrel tradition. The second is an anonymous song that evokes Bertrand du Guesclin, one of the great military heroes of the age, and invites us to consider the contribution of heralds and minstrels in its genesis. Finally, I shall consider a song from the Chantilly codex that, unusually, provides a name for both poet and composer, although the wording leaves some ambiguity as to who exactly did what. This work, for which I shall present a new version of its lyric from an hitherto overlooked source, presents fascinating evidence for the collaboration between a singer from the papal chapel in Avignon and a minstrel associated with the princely courts, but also raises the interesting question as to where the work’s identity primarily resided: in its poetry or in its music?

11:00-11:20 Coffee break

Session 5 - Unraveled Composers: Methods and Tools of Identification

Chair: David Maw (Oriel College, Oxford)

11:20-12:00 James Blasina (Swarthmore College) Composing Chant in Rouen: Ainard of Dives and the Ste-Catherine-du-Mont Office of St. Katherine of Alexandria

According to Orderic Vitalis, Ainard of Dives, a monk of Ste-Catherine-du-Mont in Rouen, composed a liturgical office for Saint Katherine of Alexandria. His musical composition has historically been understood to be lost, or never to have existed.

A survey of surviving offices for St. Katherine, reveals a rich and widespread variety of musical-liturgical practices dating to as early as the mid-eleventh century. The compositions in question are roughly contemporaneous, and contrary to what the geographic distribution of later sources indicate, they were all likely composed within the sphere of the medieval Norman church, complicating a possible attribution to Ainard.

The late eleventh century breviary, BnF nal. 1083, has previously been attributed to Duclair. Through paleographical and codicological analysis and a close reading of its St. Katherine office, I argue that this manuscript is, in fact, the earliest extant source from Ste-Catherine-du-Mont, the Rouennais repository of St. Katherine’s relics. The office for St. Katherine that BnF nal. 1083 contains—which would remain localized at the monastery, and then later be transmitted eastward—is the office composed by Ainard, now found.

This attribution brings to the fore the compositional activities of a hitherto little-known figure in the history of Western plainchant, positioning Ainard among the earliest known composers of liturgical monophony, and highlighting musical innovation in medieval Rouen. It reveals, furthermore, the musical and liturgical activities of a nascent monastery, and how it sought to aggrandize its standing through the liturgical promotion of its precious relics.

12:00-12:40 Karen Desmond (Brandeis University) A Single Compositional Hand in the Ob Rawl Fragments? William of Wicumbe and English Polyphonic Practice c. 1250

In 1954, Luther Dittmer, building on the work of Bertram Schofield and Jacques Handschin, proposed that Brother W. of Wicumbe, who identified himself as a scribe and precentor in a list of ‘labours’ he copied in the Oxford manuscript Bodley 125, was one and the same as the W. de Wicb’ listed as a composer in the LoHa index (London, British Library, Harley 978) and the composer of the polyphony extant in the Ob Rawl fragments (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson c. 400* + Lat. liturg. b. 19). Dittmer hypothesised that W. of Wicumbe was identical with William of Winchecombe, made prebend of St. Andrews Church, Worcester on 10 May 1283. More recent scholarship on Reading library and Bodley 125 in particular (Alan Coates, Richard Sharpe) has demonstrated that W[illiam] of Wicumbe, a Reading monk banished for several years to Leominster, cannot also be ‘de Winchecombe’. Coates convincingly narrows down the timeframe of the Bodley 125 list to between 1245 and 1261; Sharpe further circumscribed it to between 1245 and 1249.

That W[illiam] of Wicumbe had composed the rolls of polyphony before 1245-9 jibes well with Andrew Wathey’s crucially significant dating of the music copied on the third (Fragment C) of the Ob Rawl fragments to before December 1256. But scholarly descriptions of the relationship between the various fragments that make Ob Rawl have been confusing, to say the least. In this paper I assemble and evaluate the evidence that the entire repertoire of Ob Rawl was composed by one person through 1) a new palaeographical study of Ob Rawl, which considers the characteristics of the text and music hands, and 2) an assessment of musical style, specifically the manipulation of the pre-existing chant, and the text setting of the prosulated Alleluyas. The research presented in this paper is part of a larger study on the polyphonic troped chant settings of medieval England, and I will also briefly consider here the cycle of troped Alleluyas copied in ‘Reconstruction II’ of the Worcester fragments (hereafter RECON II), some of which, particularly in their motet-like characteristics, have stylistic affinities with some of Ob Rawl’s Alleluyas. If at least some of the music of Ob Rawl was indeed composed before c. 1250, this has important implications for our understanding of polyphonic practice in England, and the dissemination of ‘motet-like’ practices there, particularly if the same ‘compositional hand’ is judged to be present in both Ob Rawl and RECON II.

To close his 1954 study, Dittmer wrote that: ‘Thus also, we have, among so many anonymous compositions, information regarding the composers of some of the compositions, and we are thereby better able to analyse the style of certain groups of compositions’ (emphasis mine). But does an identification of a named composer in fact enable a more informed stylistic analysis? Dittmer’s identification of W. de Wicb’ led him (and Ernest Sanders among others) to certain hypotheses regarding English practice current c. 1280; the independent prosopographical and archival research of Sharpe, Coates, and Wathey, on the other hand, aligns more convincingly than Dittmer’s, and implies that we must shift our understanding of William of Wicumbe’s compositional activity and influence back about three decades. Analysis of palaeography and musical style can also contribute to an understanding of ‘compositional hands.’ For example, much has been made of the tenors marked ‘Pes’ in Ob Rawl, yet palaeographical analysis reveals that only the compositions copied by a second different, and later, hand carry the ‘Pes’ designation; comparative musical analysis of the compositions of Ob Rawl’s two copying stints also reveals distinct stylistic differences of their repertoires.

12:40-14:30 Lunch

Session 6 - Hidden Composers: Reworkings, Adaptations, Additions

Chair: Margaret Bent (All Souls College, Oxford)

14:30-15:10 Federico Zavanelli (University of Southampton) / Giovani Ferraris (Università degli Studi di Pavia) Rewriting the Tradition: Multiple Transmission of Five Madrigals from the Rossi Codex

Scholars of the Italian Trecento have focused much of their efforts on questions of provenance and authorship of the early repertoire represented by the Rossi Codex (V-CVbav Rossi 215). Another aspect of interest regards the study of variants first appeared when the early layer of the repertoire was fixed in important early fifteenth-century collections, the manuscripts Panciatichi (I-Fn Panciatichiano 26), Squarcialupi (I-Fl Mediceo Palatino 87), and the San Lorenzo palimpsest (I-Fsl 2211). However, it seems to us that insufficient attention has so far been paid to the possibility that scribes, if author of such variants, could have played the role of hidden composers. This paper examines the variants concerning diminutions and other alterations of the melodic and contrapuntal paths observed in the only five pieces of the Rossi Codex, all madrigals, surviving in later sources. Leaving aside the problematic discourse on the stemmatic of such witnesses, our aim is to shed light on the updating process of the older contrapuntal grammar typical of the Rossi Codex adopted by the copyists of later manuscripts. Moreover, it seems possible to believe that the function absolved by the compilators, particularly in Panciatichi and Squarcialupi, is to recompose the old repertoire and adjust it in light of the current musical language. This process is summarised in three principal points:

1. A standardisation of cadential movements, which leads to a more systematic way of reaching the cadential goal according to what Sarah Fuller defines “directed progression”, namely the passage from imperfect to perfect consonance through one-tone movement and contrary motion of the parts;

2. A general tendency to alternate perfect and imperfect consonances, and the reduction of sequence of perfect consonances in parallel motion;

3. A progressive regulation of the relationship between consonance and dissonance, leading to the elimination of most of the cases in which the principal pitch of a unit of time is dissonant.

These elements are part of a general process towards a regulation of the contrapuntal language in keeping with the theory first formalised in fourteenth-century French writings and introduced in Italy by Prosdocimus de Beldemandis at the beginning of the fifteenth century.

Large space is given to a careful examination of how the updating process concerning contrapuntal and melodic aspects is reflected on the level of single manuscript or also on the single scribe. In other words, it is seen whether the rewriting work in later sources is depending on a given set of rules or is the fruit of scribal creativity.

In addition, we will examine the version transmitted by the San Lorenzo palimpsest, which previous scholars could consider only very partially due to its limited legibility and which is now made easier to decipher by the new facsimile multispectral edition by John Nadas and Andreas Janke.

In conclusion, our observations allow bringing the concept of compositional innovation as a general application of a new grammar to better fit an old repertoire in a new context to a next level, which is mainly concerned with reconsidering the individuality of the scribe.

15:10-15:50 Joseph Mason (New College, University of Oxford) A Jeu-parti problem? Multiple Melodies and their Composers at the Arras Puy

In a footnote to an article written in 1923, Friedrich Ludwig noted that several jeux-partis in three closely related chansonniers (I-Rvat, F-AS 657 and I-Sc H.X.36) had very different melodies. Ludwig described this as the ‘contentious jeux-partis problem’ (noch umstrittene Jeux Partis-Problem), which has remained largely unexplored by scholars since Ludwig pointed it out. This paper takes a fresh look at the issue of multiple melodies for the same text in the trouvère repertory, a phenomenon that is common in, but not limited to, the jeu-parti.

Is the phenomenon of multiple melodies for the same text really ‘problematic’? Composers of the jeu-parti do not adhere to modern models of the composer, which perhaps was what Ludwig found particularly troubling. Romantic notions of the figure of the composer, who makes their authorial intent clear through their scores and produces a fixed and unalterable musical text, have to be discarded when looking at thirteenth-century song. A medieval song, as Paul Zumthor expressed through his term mouvance, is rarely completely fixed or identical in its various manuscript instantiations: the jeu-parti, which frequently has several melodies for the same text, is an extreme case of melodic mouvance. But while jeux-partis need not be considered ‘problematic’ if a broader definition of ‘the composer’ is accepted, the phenomenon of multiple melodies for the same text invites a reconsideration of the kinds of compositional practices surrounding the jeu-parti. The number of jeux-partis with multiple melodies will be placed in the context of melodic variance and multiple melodies across the trouvère corpus as a whole. Melodic difference will be shown to exist in differing degrees, suggesting a wide range of compositional/re-compositional practices. Taking one jeu-parti as a case study, this paper will examine the different approaches to text-setting that each melody for the same jeu-parti exhibits. From this, I consider whether the aesthetics of the genre might have prompted poet-composers to invent new melodies as a means of musical one-upmanship or competition.

15:50-16:10 Coffee break

Session 7 - Identified Composers: New Bibliographical Approaches, Historiographical Criticism

Présidence : Catherine A. Bradley (University of Oslo)

16:10-16:50 Anne Ibos-Augé (C.E.S.C.M. Poitiers) From the “Boscu d’Arras“ to Adam de la Halle: the Fabrication of a Composer

Adam de la Halle’s work is both extensive and multi-faceted. The music encompasses monophony and polyphony. Among the non-lyric production stand Vers in “Hélinand” strophic form as well as a Congé and an epic text glorifying Charles of Anjou. We are also indebted to him for the two first examples of secular plays with music.

Paradoxically, very little is known about this multi-faceted composer. Adam is indeed absent from the archives. His dates and places of birth and death are unknown. His absence from the Arras Nécrologue only proves that he did not die in this city. The destruction of the Angevin registers left by Charles of Anjou’s government prevents from attesting the trouvère’s presence in Italy at the end of his life. It is also impossible to say where, when and what he studied. Finally, a complete chronology of his life and works remains haphazard, even if some recent researches have raised several dating issues for the Vers d’amour and especially the Chanson du Roi de Sicile.

Some of his works provide a few pieces of information, which remain nonetheless cautious as a possible fictio poetica. Several figures and places are sometimes mentioned in the songs. The judges and partners of most of his jeux partis are known (though only by their first names in many instances). The Congé gives the names of some of Adam’s patrons. The Jeu de la Feuillee casts characters who actually existed, some of them attested in archive material.

Moreover, Adam’s name is mentioned several times in various sources, among which Baude Fastoul’s Congé, one copy of the Roman de Troie, the Jeu du Pelerin, which stands as an anonymous prequel for the Jeu de Robin et Marion, the register of the “Échiquier” in 1306 and Nicole de Margival’s Panthere d’amour.

Adam’s work, preserved in several manuscripts, is either presented as an Opera omnia –as in F-Pn fr. 25566– or disseminated across sundry sources, and the choices made by the copyists may be significant and therefore instructive for the scholars.

This paper intends to reconsider some aspects of Adam’s figure, summoning evidence picked up in the witnesses of the trouvère’s contemporary fellows, the literature and manuscript sources, and the information provided by the composer himself in his poetry. The convergence of these various layers of evidence, coupled with ancient historiography and recent research, will not only allow us to reassess our knowledge of the trouvère, but also to question the “fabrication” of a composer.

16:50-17:30 Anna Zayaruznaya (Yale University) On the Epochs of Music History and the Spans of Human Lives

Nothing makes more apparent the precarious and complicated ties between chronology, authorship, and “identity” than the following passage from Daniel Leech-Wikinson’s 1995 article, “The Emergence of Ars nova”:

“After the Fauvel motets no work associated with Vitry carries a date other than Flos/Celsa in 1317 and Petre/Lugentium in 1342, and there is no reason other than musicological tidy-mindedness to spread the other pieces out over the intervening years. Indeed, their stylistic similarity, and their marked dis-similarity from Petre/Lugentium, suggests exactly the opposite—that they are all quite early. Only if we think of Vitry as primarily a musician—which he surely was not—do we need to assume that he composed at all between his youth and that exceptional late work.”

The chronology of Philippe de Vitry’s works across his lifespan is, for Leech-Wilkinson, directly related to how we should “think of him.” This narrow window of activity he proposes allows for the rather romantic idea that a precocious Vitry changed music forever from the first. In this sense Leech-Wilkinson’s hypothesis reinforces the claim already made by Schrade in 1956, that Vitry was an innovator from the first. Schrade (for whom Vitry’s is “one of most creative, original, and universal minds the Middle Ages produced”) concluded that “Philippe’s activity as a composer can scarcely have had any particular scope before he introduced the novelties; it is more likely that from the first his work presented a ‘New Art’ (“Philippe de Vitry: Some New Discoveries,” 344).

With Vitry’s period of activity compressed from both sides, his output emerges as maximally revolutionary. My recent research suggests otherwise—that Vitry composed over the course of his life, that he started as an ars antiqua composer and gradually made the switch to the ars nova. I’ll briefly present those findings. But more pertinently to the broad theme of the conference I would like to examine the scholarly tendency to assume that medieval composers’ and theorists’ periods of influence and activity were compact, even when their lives were long. Under this model we have constructed a succession of French composers—Petrus de Cruce, Vitry, Guillaume de Machaut—whose realms of activity are almost completely distinct, and for whom influence only goes in one direction: we do not consider it likely that Vitry could have influenced Petrus de Cruce, or Machaut Vitry. To aid this succession certain facts have remained under-interrogated: for example, the designation “fl. 1290” for Petrus is generally accepted, despite the fact that the only firm terminus ante quem for his death is 1347. Standing behind this all is the fraught dating of the Speculum musice, which ultimately rests, I argue, on little more than its author’s assertion that he is an old man. Citing findings that medieval people who survived childhood often lived longer than we might think, I ask how our notions of the engines driving notational and stylistic change would change if we took under consideration the admittedly awkward spans of the human lives involved.

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Conference venue

The conference will take place in the Maison de l'Université, room "divisible nord"

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Registration and information

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Call for paper (closed)

Beyond a few well-known figures, the identity and personality of the composers of medieval music cannot be easily unravelled. The very notion of “composer” remains awkward to deploy, owing to the paucity of source attributions, the dearth of documentation about those who composed music, and the open and collective nature of compositional modes in the Middle Ages. In fact, our approach to medieval music has long stayed clear of the question of the author identity, and has de facto headed more willingly towards the study of the compositional processes and performance practices, or has favoured such notions as genre, register, repertoire, etc. The conference proposes to take stock of this situation and revisit the question of authorship in light of recent scholarship; it invites us to reconsider and expand the notion of composer as an alternative tool of analysis and comprehension of the medieval repertories.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

  • 1. Identified composers: new bibliographical approaches, historiographical criticism, prosopography;
  • 2. Anonymous composers: methods and tools for the identification of composer hands;
  • 3. Hidden composers: recomposition, adaptations, additions, scribal reworkings;
  • 4. Composers as a social and cultural group: anthropological, cultural and social approaches of musical creation;
  • 5. Proclaimed composers: sense and modalities of source attributions, questions of authorship;
  • 6. Composers in a network: encounters and filiations of composers through quotation and citation;
  • 7. Composers as objects of manuscripts: the emergence of single-author collections and manuscripts by the end of the Middle Ages, compendia characterized by an emphasis on author identity and author corpus.

Proposals are welcome for individual papers (30 minutes’ duration, to be followed by 10 minutes for discussion). Abstracts (up to 500 words) should be submitted to, and should include the name of the author(s), contact details and affiliation (if any). Abstracts and presentations can be in French or in English.

Submission deadline: October 21st, 2018