Author Topic: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)  (Read 6900 times)

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Offline San Antonio

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #140 on: January 31, 2017, 12:18:34 PM »
Very good, it's great that more of the debate is within reach.

Here are a few interesting bits:

Re: the essay in the booklet; comprehensible?

"For example the refusal of the 'strange' (and apparently for some people incomprehensible) booklets I fabricate, which texts supposedly blur more the interpretation on the recording than inform it...Well, in fact that's exactly what I would like to achieve. For me the booklet should be an accomplice of the recording, not a legitimation of it. ... I try to write a booklet who makes the situation more complex, but I hope also more rich, for the listener, instead of reducing our work to some biographical liner notes. I would like that the listener feels triggered and challenged. The booklet texts are for those who are intrigued, who want more, or those who like to search for the layers in the musical machine. In this perspective some trust or even good will is needed....I'm lucky that I found a label as crazy as myself that let me write all these essays and is even happy to release it, I'm really grateful to Glossa because I know other labels would never give this freedom."

Re: euchrony of time?

"At the same time, most of what i say in the booklets is like hammering on the same nail. The theme or concept of 'euchronism' versus anachronism is coming back all the time, it's a thread through all our recordings. You ask what this 'euchrony' means: well, I explain it literally on the first page p.6, between brackets behind the term: "the historicist obsession with banning every single element of anachronism". What do I mean with this? Consciously or not, most early music approach operates with some sort of cliché or common sense scalpel, starting with present time and cutting off everything what is not proper or contemporary to its proper time. What we keep in the end is the result of a pseudo-historicist filleting...To say it very bluntly: where is all the dirt of time (scholars would maybe call it : the anachronisms) ? and what happens if we bring it in again (this is a very fragile work which asks for a lot of performative trial and error), creating a musical performance which is not primordially focused on historical information but on historical transference, and what, in this transference, is, intentionally or not, cut away, exorcized. In fact in this sense I fight against early music as 'modernism projected into the past' (as if in the past everything was contemporary with its own time...what a weird idea). I'm interested in the fact that there is no existing ur-text, no existing consciousness of a first group of performers who establish a normative performance practice, and that in this sense we as performers are so to say the same as all the others who came right after,...or differently expressed: it's a sort of historical absurdism to cut off some original group of completely informed and self-identifying people from a next generation who knows already less or starts to transform it, and so and so forth till now, till us, the least informed, the furthest away from truth..."

Re: Marcel Pérès?

"That's why I mentioned Marcel Pérès, because to me he is one of the only figures of early music who speaks with the dead and in this sense opens up the field for reclaiming the past, fabulating it, articulating it's unheard potentials, washed away by the sponge of western history. People think maybe it's about aesthetics, doing something what looks like what he did, but for me it's a question of politics and I explain also this in the end of my booklet text, apparently it's alien talk on early music planet. It's a very important element because it is what early music performance can do: changing affectively our vision of the past, opening up the past, showing that it co-exists with our present. And more, we can reclaim the past, give it back to those collectives who were banished outside the glorious history of Western humanity (there is even so much quality of the non-human to discover in those repertoires by the way...), of which classical music is still all too often a symbol. Marcel Pérès said somewhere something interesting: why is it weird or wrong to do Machaut with Corsican singers who objectively are still with one or even two legs in a chant tradition, which anyhow has maybe more to say about polyphonic practices from earlier times, than a conservatory education of which you know objectively that the whole vocal, bodily approach and even more important, the whole aesthetic and affective approach is a clear modern denial and cut with the past? Singing early music with conservatory voices is apparently professional and neutral (implied: because it's eurocentric?) but when you work in this repertoire with European singers who have a phrasing expertise in singing glissandi and ornaments you deliver yourself to the dangerous transgression of 'orientalism'. (There is still a story to write about the false accusations of 'orientalism' for example in early music performance by western modernist musicologists, I guess nobody dares to go on this slippery domain...)"

"More important, Pérès shows that there is no direct line from Machaut towards modernist music (a line Western scholars still implicitly and all to often draw and which is revealed through their common sense knowledge and aesthetical preconceptions) without the bending, the cracking and continuous bifurcation of that line passing through 'minor voices', and 'minor voice techniques' who realize something of Machaut's notation what was never heard before and challenge all our preconceived historical and aesthetical ideas."


I haven't decided if I will respond; I probably will.  But I want to think about it and prepare some comments which address his points in a meaningful way.

Very interesting, I think, for him to respond so fully - 2,399 words to my little review.

Offline JCBuckley

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #141 on: January 31, 2017, 12:50:15 PM »
this is very interesting & rather impressive - thank you

Offline San Antonio

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #142 on: February 01, 2017, 06:04:42 AM »
It is getting interesting ... I went ahead and posted a reply, and then Schmelzer came back and left another long comment. 

All very interesting and enlightening. 

You can read my response and his latest here.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #143 on: February 01, 2017, 08:07:36 AM »
One idea seems to be that there's no privileged link between the way western classical singers read a score and Machaut's score (I bet he's right!) When he says

Quote
More important, Pérès shows that there is no direct line from Machaut towards modernist music (a line Western scholars still implicitly and all to often draw and which is revealed through their common sense knowledge and aesthetical preconceptions) without the bending, the cracking and continuous bifurcation of that line passing through ‘minor voices’, and ‘minor voice techniques’ who realize something of Machaut’s notation what was never heard before and challenge all our preconceived historical and aesthetical ideas.


I don't know if he's referring to some history work by Peres.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2017, 08:11:46 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antonio

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #144 on: February 01, 2017, 08:43:48 AM »
One thing Schmelzer cleared up was the issue of Corsican singers: He did not use them.  Peres either used some or used aspects of their singing style (but I am pretty sure he did use a few of the singers).  I replied that I can only surmise that the misconception was a result of a conflation of his recording with Peres's.

Schmelzer is passionate about releasing early music from the strictures of conservatory singing traditions and classical music biases.  This of course flies in the face of the enormous amount of scholarly work done and being done concerning the music of the 12th-16th centuries.  But I don't think his interpreation should be seen as a judgment on other performance techniques or the "legacy of recordings" (my phrase) of which he does not wish his to be included.  He views what he has done as simply "another way" and certainly not an extension or elaboration of what has been done before.

I now have a much greater appreciation for what he is doing and no doubt wil hear his recording of the mass with very different ears.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #145 on: February 01, 2017, 09:45:58 AM »
One thing Schmelzer cleared up was the issue of Corsican singers: He did not use them.  Peres either used some or used aspects of their singing style (but I am pretty sure he did use a few of the singers).  I replied that I can only surmise that the misconception was a result of a conflation of his recording with Peres's.

Schmelzer is passionate about releasing early music from the strictures of conservatory singing traditions and classical music biases.  This of course flies in the face of the enormous amount of scholarly work done and being done concerning the music of the 12th-16th centuries.  But I don't think his interpreation should be seen as a judgment on other performance techniques or the "legacy of recordings" (my phrase) of which he does not wish his to be included.  He views what he has done as simply "another way" and certainly not an extension or elaboration of what has been done before.

I now have a much greater appreciation for what he is doing and no doubt wil hear his recording of the mass with very different ears.

I think his point about conservatory training is common sense.   Singers would be trained on the job, so to speak,  learning from family members, older associates, and (for in church music) whoever was in charge of the singing at an individual church.  Perhaps the closest analogue in our time is the local church choir.

Offline San Antonio

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #146 on: February 01, 2017, 10:06:09 AM »
I think his point about conservatory training is common sense.   Singers would be trained on the job, so to speak,  learning from family members, older associates, and (for in church music) whoever was in charge of the singing at an individual church.  Perhaps the closest analogue in our time is the local church choir.

However, during the 14th century (and before) there existed a formal system of training young men at schools associated with cathedrals.  There was also a burgeoning trend towards the establishment of universities, in Paris and Bologna for example, and religious clerical training (which most if not all Medieval and Renaissance composers received).  The skills required to perform early polyphony were not learned haphazard but were drilled into singers over a period of years.  Some was via an oral tradition passed on while singers were employed in a cathedral or court choir, but much collected in contemporary treatises as proscriptive practice.

Our conservatory system is an extension of what was done in earlier periods which was more formal than what you describe.

That said, a certain amount of ossification of the styles used when performing this music has occurred (Richard Taruskin has been the most articulate critic of performance trends in early music).  It has almost been implied that early music musicians are archivists instead of creative musical interpreters.

So, I support Schmelzer and others in their desire to free the field from any stagnation of interpretive choices.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #147 on: February 01, 2017, 10:42:28 AM »
However, during the 14th century (and before) there existed a formal system of training young men at schools associated with cathedrals.  There was also a burgeoning trend towards the establishment of universities, in Paris and Bologna for example, and religious clerical training (which most if not all Medieval and Renaissance composers received).  The skills required to perform early polyphony were not learned haphazard but were drilled into singers over a period of years.  Some was via an oral tradition passed on while singers were employed in a cathedral or court choir, but much collected in contemporary treatises as proscriptive practice.

Our conservatory system is an extension of what was done in earlier periods which was more formal than what you describe.


Do you think that shows that the path from Machaut through the cathedral schools to the conservatories is privileged, has a special status in terms of how to makes sense of the score? 

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Offline San Antonio

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #148 on: February 01, 2017, 11:29:51 AM »
Do you think that shows that the path from Machaut through the cathedral schools to the conservatories is privileged, has a special status in terms of how to makes sense of the score?

No more than exists throughout the Classical music canon.  The difference is our lack of knowledge with regard to early music is greater than it is for other periods; but we are not entirely devoid of knowledge.  As I posted previously, there has been an huge anount of musicological work that has been done (going back well over 100 years); countless articles and books written on the interpretation of manuscripts, music theory and practical performance practice for music of the 12th-16th centuries.

Schmelzer, and to some extent Peres, represent the minority view; but conclusions about performance are less sure than they once were.  Some big changes in attitudes have occurred, e.g., instruments are no longer used in sacred music from the period as had been done in the first few decades of early music performance/recordings.  A surer notion of pitch and the makeup of ensembles; less use of the “Renaissance fair” approach to presenting the music as raucous peasant dance music.  So some evolution and a sophistication, if you will, of style has occurred.

However, at the same time, the more knowledge we gain the more we realize how little we really know.   This has produced a tendency against doctrinaire views and more openness to alternative approaches.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #149 on: February 01, 2017, 12:33:37 PM »
No more than exists throughout the Classical music canon.

I need to think about this.
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Offline San Antonio

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #150 on: July 28, 2017, 01:45:38 AM »
The Orlando Consort's latest installment in their Machaut series has been released:

Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377)
Sovereign Beauty
The Orlando Consort



Recording details: January 2015
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: July 2017
Total duration: 63 minutes 26 seconds

Cover artwork: Venus presented with hearts (L’Epître d’Othéa, Harley 4431, f.100, 1410/11).
© British Library Board. All Rights Reserved / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #151 on: August 11, 2017, 12:52:27 PM »
The Orlando Consort's latest installment in their Machaut series has been released:

Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377)
Sovereign Beauty
The Orlando Consort



Recording details: January 2015
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: July 2017
Total duration: 63 minutes 26 seconds

Cover artwork: Venus presented with hearts (L’Epître d’Othéa, Harley 4431, f.100, 1410/11).
© British Library Board. All Rights Reserved / Bridgeman Art Library, London

If you listen to what they do in The Lay of Consolation they  don't "sing forth" like an opera singer or "belt it out" like a musical singer, the sound they produce is modest and small and there's only very subtle perceptible vibrato. I don't know whether you have this tradition in the US, but I bet they get their inspiration partly from traditional U.K. folk singers. I  like the way they don't  impose themselves on you, bully you into sharing the music. They gently but firmly take you by the hand and lead you through the music.

Are they good enough with the words to bring it off? I mean, do they make it sound like a meaningful poem, a heartfelt poem? I'm inclined to say yes, but they're certainly not as good as Alfred Deller or Jantina Noorman were in that respect, and their austere style is really crying out for someone with a real talent for the words.

Anyway, it's good to have this version to contrast with Davies Bros., who sound more extrovert to me, more "romantically" expressive - their sound engineering contributes to this I'd say, as does their vibrato.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 01:08:10 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline opaquer

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #152 on: August 13, 2017, 05:50:59 PM »
The Orlando Consort's latest installment in their Machaut series has been released:

Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377)
Sovereign Beauty
The Orlando Consort



Recording details: January 2015
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: July 2017
Total duration: 63 minutes 26 seconds

Cover artwork: Venus presented with hearts (L’Epître d’Othéa, Harley 4431, f.100, 1410/11).
© British Library Board. All Rights Reserved / Bridgeman Art Library, London


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Offline Omicron9

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Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
« Reply #153 on: August 23, 2017, 07:06:38 AM »
And this:

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