Allegorical Play in the Old French Motet: The Sacred and the Profane in Thirteenth-Century Polyphony
Stanford University Press, 1997 - 236 pages
The motet began as a form of sacred vocal music in several parts; a cantus firmus or tenor, drawn from sacred Latin chant, served as a foundation for one or more upper voices. The French motet was a well-established form by the middle of the thirteenth century, as were bilingual motets that combined at least one French and one Latin text among the upper voices.
Though some attention is paid to melodic structure and the relationship between text and music, this book focuses on the literary artistry of the texts of French and bilingual motets, notably the special feature of motets that distinguished them from other medieval lyric forms: the phenomenon of polytextuality. The author analyzes both the interaction of the texts within a motet (when there is more than one texted voice) and the relationship between the texted voice(s) and the tenor.
Although some French motets employ vernacular refrains as tenors, the vast majority use Latin tenors, thus maintaining an explicit tie to the liturgical origins of the genre. This presence of sacred and profane elements within a single motet presents an interpretive dilemma that the author suggests can be resolved through an allegorical or parodic reading; indeed, she argues that the tension between allegory and parody is an essential feature of the French motet.
The book examines the creative juxtaposition of sacred tenors and vernacular lyric motifs, and the resulting interplay of allegorical and parodic meanings, focusing in particular on the female persona as object of desire and as desiring subject, and on the motives of the separation and reunion of lovers. The author's analysis also discusses the links between the French motet and the secular lyric, the allegorization of love poetry in sermons and mystical texts, sacred parody, and the playful use of liturgical and biblical citations in erotic poetry.
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Intertextual Dialogue in the Vernacular Motet
The Sacred and the Profane in Vernacular Lyric
The Pain of Separation and the Consolation of Love
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allegorical alleluia allows amorous appears associations Assumption beautiful beginning bele beloved biblical bien body Bride celebration chanson Chapter Christ cite closely combined composers composition context contrast Court courtly Cross cuer dance desire devotional discourse discussion divine erotic example expressed Fair figure flower French motet genre given grant heart Heaven Holy Spirit human humor imagery important interpretation lady language Latin lines literary liturgy lover lyric maiden male manuscript marriage Mary meaning medieval Montpellier moral motif musical narrative nature offers opening pains parodic parody Passion pastourelle Pentecost performance persona piece play poem possible presents reading refers refrain Robin Roman Rose sacred Saint secular sermon setting sexual sing song Song of Songs soul spiritual statement suffering sweet tenor textual theme tion Tischler triplum upper voices vernacular motet Virgin voices