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.