Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Evans, Beverly J. "The Textual Function of the Refrain Cento in a Thirteenth-Century French Motet." Music and Letters 71 (May 1990): 187-97.

Understanding the logic behind the refrain cento, which is the combination of frequently unrelated texts in succession in all the voices of a motet, has long evaded scholars. Finding a relationship between texts or a reason for their use has been difficult. Often, texts are combined that have no narrative relation to each other. Examining the motet Qui amours veut maintenir/ Li dous pensers/ Cis, a cui provides evidence that the refrain cento in fact acted as a structural and unifying device through lexical repetitions and phonetic patterns, even when no apparent narrative logic exists. The tenor is created through these techniques. Then, the upper voices are generated based on the linguistic sounds produced in this lowest voice. Since this piece behaves in a manner common to the majority of French motets utilizing the refrain cento, it can be said that this technique is used to create the structure of the piece and unify all aspects of it.

Works: Motet: Qui amours veut maintenir/Li dous pensers/Cis, a cui (187-97).

Sources: Chansons: Salut d'Amours, Renart le Nouvel, Suite Anonyme de la 'Court d'Amours' (189).

Index Classifications: Polyphony to 1300

Contributed by: Rebecca Dowsley

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