Saturday, November 10, 2007

1340 – 1370 Machaut

1337 Beginning of the 100 Year War
1348-49 Black Death
1304-74 Petrarch
1313-75 Boccaccio
1360 First Harpsichord

French Ars Nova

Isorhythmic motet

Two relatively equal faster voices moved over a very slow tenor with long repeating rhythmic patterns (called talea) and sometimes a repeating melodic pattern (called color). Talea and color usually did not coincide. Isorhythm was occasionally found in the upper voices, too. Characteristic cadences were:

(1) Lydian (double leading tone) with a leading tone to the fifth as well as the octave, and

(2) Landini with 7 – 6 – 1 melody.

Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300-77) composed 23 motets, three in four voices.


A four-part Ordinary in conductus-like style was composed by Machaut called the Messe de Notre Dame (probably before 1340).


The chace was a two or three voiced canon at the unison composed by Machaut.



|--------------- optional instrumental—Triplum
|French text - vocal—Cantus
|--------------- freely composed, instrumental—Tenor
|--------------- optional instrumental—Contratenor

Chansons by Machaut were the earliest polyphonic solo songs. The trouvère melodies in the three traditional formes fixes:

Type Rondeau Virelai Ballade
Text abcadaea Abcdaabc, ade, etc.

These were usually accompanied by freely composed instrumental tenor and contratenor parts. Machaut used all four prolations (2/4, 3/4, 6/8, 9/8) in his 21 rondeaux, 33 virelais (25 monophonic) and 42 ballades (2-4 parts).

Italian Trecento


Caccia was a two part canon with a supporting tenor; the form had a closing ritornello. Composers were Magister Piero, Giovanni da Cascia and Jacopo da Bologna (fl. c. 1350). Hocket was common.


Two or three three-line stanzas repeated the same music, followed by a contrasting two-line ritornello (AAB or AAAB). The music was in two fairly equal voices with an upper melody and melismatic passages; also composed by Giovanni and Jacopo.

Songs on the Black Death

In Germany songs on the black death were called Geisslerlieder, and a Spanish collection was the Llibre Vermell.

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