The Hybrid Voice of Monophonic Motets

Judith A. Peraino

in Giving Voice to Love

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199757244
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918904 | DOI:
The Hybrid Voice of Monophonic Motets

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This chapter examines a subgenre of monophonic songs labeled motet enté (meaning “grafted motet”) in some medieval sources. These songs were conceived and crafted from the fusing of the single-voiced chanson and the multi-voiced motet. The term “motet” is itself multivalent, for medieval sources often refer to refrains as “motets.” Refrains conceptually multiply and blur voices; thus they encapsulate in a figurative way the literal, aural effects of polyphonic motets. Composers, with the horticultural technique of grafting in mind, worked the many guises and voices of the motet into single-stanza, free-verse songs that strongly resemble triplum or motetus parts, but which are emphatically monophonic. As a compositional practice, grafting has an analog in present-day “sampling” found in popular music; both grafting and sampling create musical hybrids that ask readers and listeners to access their knowledge of multiple musical and literary contexts. The medieval “monophonic motet,” as both a product of grafting and a graft onto the central chanson repertory, calls attention to the cross-genre, and in some cases cross-gender, dialogues contained within a single voice.

Keywords: chanson; motet; motet enté; refrain; grafting; sampling; technology; gender

Chapter.  18912 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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