Session 22 (Free Papers): Reminiscence and intertextuality

Tuesday, 7 July 2021, 9.00-10.30, Room 209 | Chair: Hana Vlhová-Wörner (Mararyk Institute and Archives, Czech Academy of Sciences)

Written and oral transmission of trouvère contrafacta | Joseph W. Mason (University College Dublin)

In 1965, Hendrik van der Werf polemically proposed that trouvère songs were, on the whole, composed during a period when the melodies of vernacular songs were not written down. Since then, scholars have hypothesised the existence of written exemplars of trouvère song much earlier than the 1260s, the start of the great efflorescence of chansonnier copying. John Haines (2013) has argued for the written transmission of vernacular song as early as 1120; Robert Lug (2020) believes that chansonnier U (BnF, fr. 20050) was copied from single-sheet exemplars that were produced before 1231. While scholars acknowledge that transmission of trouvère song must have been at least partly oral, there is growing evidence to challenge van der Werf’s claims. This paper addresses the question of oral and written transmission through instances of contrafacture in trouvère song, specifically the dozen jeux-partis that share their melodies with other trouvère songs. Through an analysis of the errors and variants between different versions of songs within these contrafact networks, it will be argued that some contrafacts were created in writing and were disseminated in a complex process in which oral and written transmission both played a role.


Refrains, French motets, and musical communities in the thirteenth century | Matthew P. Thomson (Merton College, University of Oxford)

In French musical cultures of the thirteenth century, refrains were bound up with the articulation of musical communities. Whether they were acting as basic building blocks of musical construction or as a vector for hermeneutic readings, refrains derived their power from the shared knowledge of the community of musicians who used them. The boundaries between these communities are often hard to define; this paper argues for a flexible and dynamic approach to drawing such dividing lines by examining a motet produced in the messy interstices between two musical communities. En non dieu, c’est la rage/ FERENS PONDERA seems in many ways to belong to the “songbook” motet culture recently defined by Gaël Saint-Cricq, and more specifically to the musical communities in the north-eastern heartlands of that culture in Arras and the Artois: it uses refrains that are deeply embedded in north- eastern networks and is presented as a monophonic motet in Artesian motet manuscripts. Yet, it can also be placed in the Parisian motet culture with which Saint- Cricq has contrasted the ‘songbook’ motet: the polyphonic versions of the motet enmesh the upper voice with the tenor via superimposed repetitive structures that resemble the play with repetition beloved of Parisian polyphony. By reading the motet’s structure alongside other versions of the refrains it quotes, all found in north- eastern texts, I make a hermeneutic interpretation that ties Parisian and Artesian motet traditions together and promotes a fluid and dynamic approach to the definition of musical communities.


Pedagogy of Mariological allusion, embodiment, and perspective in Hildegard of Bingen’s musical repertory | Lucia Marie Denk (Dalhousie University)

The Marian liturgical plainchants of Hildegard of Bingen feature prominently in her repertory, with more chants designated for Mary by text and rubric in the Riesencodex and Dendermonde manuscripts than for any other religious subject. While these sixteen explicitly Marian chants at first might seem to represent the extent of Hildegard’s musical Mariology, Margot Fassler discovered Hildegard’s melodic reworking of a 12th-century Marian antiphon, Ave regina caelorum, in her responsory O nobilissima viriditas and in chants of the Ordo Virtutum (1998, 2014). This provokes the question: is Hildegard’s musical Mariology more extensive, its agency more complex, than has been previously thought? Digital and theoretical analysis, including melody search techniques on Cantus Database (cantus.uwaterloo.ca) demonstrate that it is, through Hildegard’s use of what I call “Mariological allusion”. Various chants by Hildegard which are not explicitly Marian melodically quote or allude to Marian chants both within and outside of her repertory. Additionally, several of Hildegard’s explicitly Marian chants, such as her responsory Ave maria, o auctrix vite and antiphon Cum erubuerint, augment their Mariological status through melodically referencing other Marian chants. I suggest that this intertextuality fulfilled a pedagogical function for the nuns of Hildegard’s community, particularly in the case of the Ordo virtutum. Hildegard’s chants, through this melodic intertextuality, literally “embody” new Mariological contexts, and would have enabled and empowered each of Hildegard’s nuns to assume the perspective of Mary herself. Therefore, I argue that Hildegard’s musical Mariology achieves a new level of agency, through a meticulously constructed pedagogy of Mariological allusion, embodiment, and perspective.