Chapter

Machaut's Turn to Monophony

Judith A. Peraino

in Giving Voice to Love

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199757244
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918904 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199757244.003.0006
Machaut's Turn to Monophony

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This chapter begins with the question: Why did Guillaume de Machaut write so many monophonic virelais? Of the thirty-three virelais, twenty-five are monophonic, while only eight are polyphonic (seven for two voices, one for three voices); even not counting these polyphonic virelais, the twenty-five monophonic virelais constitute the second most numerous genre in his musical oeuvre. The chapter examines the expressive meaning of both monophony and the virelai form, which is the only forme fixe to feature a substantial refrain, in the context of the Remede de Fortune, the Voir Dit, and his “collected works” manuscripts; and it considers their possible genealogical ties to Occitan dansas and their relationship to Machaut’s other monophonic—and decidedly archaic—genre, the lai. Furthermore, a series of Machaut’s lais alternate male and female voices, and a few but significant examples of his virelais follow suit. As both nostalgic and new, the monophonic virelai participates in Machaut’s programmatic exploration of the expressive lyric voice that also involves an exploration of the gendered voice.

Keywords: virelai; lai; dansa; chanson baladée; cantigas; zajal; Guillaume de Machaut; Jehan de Lescurel; Roman de Fauvel; Remede de Fortune; Voir Dit

Chapter.  22939 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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