Seminar in medieval and renaissance music

medieval network

‘Interactions between Polyphonic Motets and Monophonic Song in the Thirteenth Century: Quotation, Intertextuality, and Re-Use’ with speaker Matthew Thomson (University of Oxford) hosted by All Souls College.

Interactions between polyphonic motets and monophonic trouvère song in the long thirteenth century have been characterised in a number of different ways. Mark Everist and Gaël Saint-Cricq have focused on motets’ use of textual and musical forms usually thought of as typical of song. Judith Peraino, on the other hand, has explored the influence of motets on a range of pieces found in manuscripts that mainly contain monophonic songs. This paper re-examines motet-song interaction from first principles, taking as its basis the 24 cases in which a voice part of a polyphonic motet is also found as a monophonic song. It develops a music-analytical framework to address the compositional processes involved in these case studies, arguing that in some of them a monophonic song was converted into a motet voice, while in others a motet voice was extracted from its polyphonic context to make a song. The conversion of song material for motets and vice versa is further placed within a larger context of musical quotation and re-use in the thirteenth century, showing that many of these case studies play with the pre-existence of their song or motet material: some transfer their voice parts from one medium to another in a way that consciously foregrounds its previous incarnation, whereas others mask the pre-existence of the voice part by absorbing it into new textual and musical structures.

All are welcome.


Oxford Medieval Studies

Contact name: Margaret Bent
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Audience: Open to all