Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Aarburg, Ursula. “Ein Beispiel zur mittelalterlichen Kompositionstechnik: Die Chanson R. 1545 von Blondel de Nesle und ihre mehrstimmigen Vertonungen.” Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 15 (1958): 20-40.

The chanson d’amour L’Amours dont sui espris R. 1545, attributed to the twelfth century trouvère Blondel de Nesle, and its retexted version by Gautier de Coinci served as the basis for several works in the ensuing decades, and these later works provide a useful view into the compositional practices of the era. All of these songs and conductus feature virtually identical line length, rhyme arrangement, and large-scale form, although it is unclear if any or all of these works follow a particular rhythmic mode. An analysis of Blondel’s chanson shows a close correspondence between the textual rhythm and musical motives, with the whole melody built in paired sequences that act almost like question-and-answer phrases—a common technique in medieval song practice. The conductus Purgator Criminum AH. 20,16 from the manuscript W1 uses the L’Amours melody as a tenor and features new upper voices, but these added parts are deeply dependent on the contour and motivic cells of Blondel’s melody. The limited voice exchange and simple counterpoint with the tenor, moreover, marks it as a fairly unsophisticated reworking. The conductus Procurans odium AH. 21,176 from manuscripts F, Mü, and Ma, on the other hand, makes use of more elaborate voice exchanges above the tenor to create a unique, almost static aural effect, like the ringing of bells. The numerous repeating motives and cellular construction of the upper voices’ melodies also suggest this conductus is derived from improvisatory vocal performance practices of the era. Questions of chronology and which works may have influenced one another are more difficult to answer, due to the limited number of medieval songs available to scholars and the general lack of analytical studies of the repertory.

Works: Gautier de Coinci: L’Amours dont sui espris R. 1546 (20-30); Anonymous: Purgator Criminum AH. 20,16 (30-35); Anonymous: Procurans odium AH. 21,176 (35-38).

Sources: Blondel de Nesle: L’Amours dont sui espris R. 1545

Index Classifications: Monophony to 1300, Polyphony to 1300

Contributed by: Matthew G. Leone

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