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Polyphony in Medieval Paris

Book description

Polyphony associated with the Parisian cathedral of Notre Dame marks a historical turning point in medieval music. Yet a lack of analytical or theoretical systems has discouraged close study of twelfth- and thirteenth-century musical objects, despite the fact that such creations represent the beginnings of musical composition as we know it. Is musical analysis possible for such medieval repertoires? Catherine A. Bradley demonstrates that it is, presenting new methodologies to illuminate processes of musical and poetic creation, from monophonic plainchant and vernacular French songs, to polyphonic organa, clausulae, and motets in both Latin and French. This book engages with questions of text-music relationships, liturgy, and the development of notational technologies, exploring concepts of authorship and originality as well as practices of quotation and musical reworking.


'Catherine A. Bradley’s superb new book takes us back to the world of medieval Paris where musicians and poets were experimenting with the ways in which plainsong, polyphony, rithmus and the conventions of liturgical and paraliturgical celebration could be combined, differentiated and subverted. She does this by returning to the venerable question of the birth of the motet, and cognate genres. On the way, she brilliantly reminds us of the importance of the female voice in some unlikely places and, in a virtuosic side glance at the relationship between organum and clausula, comes close to uncovering an entirely new subgenre. Magisterial in every regard.'

Mark Everist - University of Southampton

'Polyphony in Medieval Paris brings a much-needed analytical perspective to thirteenth-century polyphony. With exceptional acumen, Bradley challenges prevailing narratives about how this repertory emerged and offers fresh insights into the priorities and choices of its composers. Through the new analytical approaches she develops, she also deepens our understanding of issues as diverse as intertextuality and gender.'

Rebecca Maloy - University of Colorado, Boulder

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