The Listeners’ Experience

  • Elizabeth Randell Upton
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In previous chapters we have seen how evidence from notes on the page can preserve information about singers and ensembles, and how details of musical works can suggest the social context that shaped a medieval musicking process. For both categories, such evidence reflects the composers’ awareness of and response to anticipated performance constraints. In this chapter, I want to focus directly on listeners by exploring how two medieval song forms—the ballade and the rondeau—can structure different listening experiences. Both of these song forms involve the repetition of different sections of music according to a fixed pattern, and as a result the two have been seen by musicologists to be closely-related variants. But the listening experience structured by each of the two forms is significantly different. This difference in the experience shaped for listeners may account for the rondeau’s dominating popularity in the fifteenth century.


Video Game Fifteenth Century Listening Experience Original Word Musical Work 
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  1. 1.
    See Nigel Wilkins, “Ballade (i),” “Rondeau (i),” and “Virelai”in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online 2001, as well as David Fallows, trans. Stefan Weiss, “Ballade (mehrstimmig),” in Ludwig Finscher, ed., Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart [MGG], 2nd edition (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1994–2008), vol. 1, 1130–1134; Fallows, trans. Helga Beste, “Rondeau (mehrstimmig)”, MGG, vol. 8, 542–550; and Jehoash Hirshberg, trans.Google Scholar
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© Elizabeth Randell Upton 2013

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