Reframing the Sacred/Secular Divide

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


In the preceding chapters my primary focus has been on late medieval songs and their performance. In this final chapter, I will discuss the conceptual frame that divides sacred and secular music in musicological thought and practice. Finally, I will analyze a work of music categorized as sacred using the analytical tools developed through my investigation of secular songs. In this way, I demonstrate how attention to songs and their evidence concerning performance and the medieval musicking process can further understanding of all surviving music—both secular and sacred—and the people who wrote, performed, and heard them in the early fifteenth century.


Musical Work Final Syllable Lower Voice Polyphonic Music Musical Element 
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    The two musical sources of this motet are Trent, Museo provincial d’arte, Catello del Buonconsiglio, 1379 (Trent92), ff. 21v-23; and Modena, Biblioteca estense universitaria, a.X.1.11 (ModB), ff. 67v-68v (new 69v-70v). The Trent codices have been published in facsimile, and color photographs of the pages are available online at (NB: on the website, the pages containing this motet appear labeled 23v–25r). For a plate of the first opening of the Mod B version, see Charles W. Warren, “Brunelleschi’s Dome and Dufay’s Motet,” The Musical Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 1 (January, 1973), 100. There is one further source for the words alone: Florence, Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana, MS Conv. Sop. 388, f. 204v.Google Scholar

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© Elizabeth Randell Upton 2013

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  • Elizabeth Randell Upton

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