Seminar in medieval and renaissance music

medieval network

‘A Melody Lodged in the Heart: Contextualising 'Can vei la lauzeta mover' and its Contrafacts’ with speaker Meghan Quinlan (University of Oxford) hosted by All Souls College.

Bernart de Ventadorn’s Can vei la lauzeta mover (Can vei) is one of the most widely disseminated troubadour songs and is well known to musicologists and literary scholars alike. Lesser known is the fact that Can vei has at least five notated contrafacts from vastly different contexts. This paper examines each contrafact in succession, tracing the metamorphosis of Bernart’s melody through the contexts of courtly Occitania and France, the University of Paris, and an Occitan mystery play on St. Agnes.

Among Friedrich Gennrich’s legacies is the Kontrafakturjagd, the hunt for unnotated songs whose structural similarities with the texts of notated songs warrant the projection of the latter’s melodies onto the former’s texts. This practice rests on the assumption that texts with the same versification share melodies, an assumption fuelled by the desire to reconstruct the music of unnotated medieval songs. Rather than starting with songs whose contextual or notational gaps limit us to speculation about their status as contrafacts, I consider what can be learned from verifiable contrafacts like Can vei. With the melody already established as a point of contact between the songs, further connections are possible, and insights on the creative motivations of melodic re-use emerge.

All are welcome.


Oxford Medieval Studies

Contact name: Margaret Bent
Contact email:
Audience: Open to all