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The Listeners’ Experience

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Video Game Fifteenth Century Listening Experience Original Word Musical Work 
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Notes

  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
  2. Helga Beste, “Virelai,” in Ludwig Finscher, ed., Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2nd edition (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1994–2008), vol. 9, 1711–1722. For musicological bibliography on all three forms, see Howard Mayer Brown and David Fallows. “Chanson: 1. Origins to about 1430; 2. 1430 to about 1525,” in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online 2001. In his textbook on medieval music, Richard H. Hoppin describes the three song forms within his chapter on Guillaume de Machaut, see Hoppin, Medieval Music (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1978), 396–432. In his textbook on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century music, Allan W. Atlas discusses the ballade and rondeau in the context of Du Fay, see Atlas, Renaissance Music: Music in Western Europe, 1400–1600 (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1998), 57–76. On the lyrics of these songs as poetry, seeGoogle Scholar
  3. Jane H. M. Taylor, “Lyric poetry of the later Middle Ages,” in Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Medieval French Literature ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008 ), 153–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    It is not possible to produce absolutely accurate counts, due to the survival of fragmentary works that are difficult to categorize. See David Fallows, A Catalogue of Polyphonic Songs, 1415–1480 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999 ). No similar listing exists for fourteenth-century European song, but see Schrade, Leo, Frank Ll. Harrison, and Kurt von Fischer,eds. Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century, vols. III (songs of Guillaume de Machaut, ed. Leo Schrade), IV (works of Francesco Landini, ed. Leo Schrade), VI–XI (Italian Secular Music, ed. W. Thomas Marrocco, and vols. XVIII–XXII (French Secular Music, ed. Gordon Greene), ( Monaco: Editions L’Oiseau-Lyre, 1956–1991 ).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Leech, Sung Birds, for a discussion of the bird-song virelais of the late fourteenth century. In the fifteenth century, the multistanza virelai seems to have become the single-stanza bergerette. For information on treatises discussing this change, see Robert W. Linker and Gwynn S. McPeek, “The Bergerette Form in the Laborde Chansonnier: A Musico-Literary Study,” Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 7, no. 2 (Summer, 1954), 113–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 7.
    Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study in the Play-Elements in Culture, translated by R. F. C. Hull (Boston, MA: The Beacon Press, 1955), 1–27. In English, the first chapter is titled “Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon.” Huizinga’s book was translated into German and published in Switzerland in 1944, and first published in English in London in 1950. This English translation was first published in the United States in 1955.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    On the history of video games, see Steven L. Kent, The Ultimate History of Video Games (Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2001 ). For video game studies, seeGoogle Scholar
  8. Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron, eds., The Video Game Theory Reader (New York: Routledge, 2003), andGoogle Scholar
  9. Bernard Perron and Mark J. P. Wolf, eds., The Video Game Theory Reader 2 ( New York: Routledge, 2009 ).Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    For examples of this narrative-focused approach, see Janet H. Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997), andGoogle Scholar
  11. Marie-Laure Ryan, Avatars of Story, Electronic Mediations, 17 ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006 ).Google Scholar
  12. Jesper Juul, Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005 ). Published work on games as games (rather than discussion of the ways games can be interpreted) tends to be more practical than theoretical; for example, seeGoogle Scholar
  13. Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses ( Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2008 ).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    Janet M. Levy, “Covert and Casual Values in Recent Writings About Music,” The Journal of Musicology, vol. 5, no. 1 (Winter, 1987), 3–27. On modern literary scholars’ similar difficulty with addressing medieval poetry that does not fit later aesthetics, seeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Leonard W. Johnson, “Nouviaus dis amoureux plaisans: Variation as Innovation in Guillaume de Machaut,” Le Moyen Français, vol. 5 (1980), 11–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Don Michael Randel, “Dufay the Reader,” Studies in the History of Music I: Music and Language ( New York: Broude Brothers Ltd., 1983 ), 38–78.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    The play inherent in rondeau form for poetry alone is well known, especially in that poets’ varied responses to the constraints of the form is seen as play. See Howard M. Garey, “The Fifteenth Century Rondeau as Aleatory Polytext,” Le Moyen Français, vol. 5 (1980), 193–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 23.
    Page, Discarding Images, 142–143. Leeman L. Perkins and Howard Garey, eds. The Mellon Chansonnier (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979), vol. 2, 1–2.Google Scholar
  19. 29.
    Allan W. Atlas, “Gematria, Marriage Numbers, and Golden Sections in Du Fay’s ‘Resvellies vous’” Acta Musicologica, vol. 59, Fasc. 2 (May– August, 1987 ), 111–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 32.
    Gothic Voices, A Song for Francesca: Music in Italy, 1330–1430 (Hyperion Records, 1993), track 15. Alto Margaret Philpot sings the cantus part while Christopher Page, the group’s director, plays the rondeau’s lower two voices on harp. In contrast, another Ox213 rondeau on this same recording, Hugo de Lantin’s Plaindre m’estuet (Gathering III, folio 46v), is over twice as long in performance, lasting 4’33.Google Scholar
  21. 33.
    Three songs, two rondeaux and a virelai, are ascribed variously to “Harcourt,” “Acourt,” or “Jo. de Alte Curie.” Yolanda Plumley asserts that all three songs are the work of the same man, a French chaplain under both (anti-)Pope Clement VII and Benedict XIII. David Fallows disagrees on musical stylistic grounds, and does not believe that the composer of Je demande ma bienvenue composed the Chantilly rondeau and the virelai ascribed to “Haucourt” in Ox. Yolanda Plumley, “Haucourt, Johannes,” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, 2001;Google Scholar
  22. David Fallows, “Acourt,” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online 2001.Google Scholar

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© Elizabeth Randell Upton 2013

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  • Elizabeth Randell Upton

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