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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: San Antone on May 21, 2015, 11:37:41 AM

Title: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on May 21, 2015, 11:37:41 AM
Guillaume de Machaut (d.1377) is one of the undisputed pinnacle geniuses of Western music, and the most famous composer of the Middle Ages. Today his four-voice Mass of Notre Dame is a textbook example for medieval counterpoint, and has served sufficiently to maintain his reputation across shifts in fashion. However Machaut's work is extensive, with his French songs & poetry dominating the fourteenth century by both their quality and volume. A series of carefully prepared illuminated manuscripts, undertaken for members of the French royalty, preserve his complete artistic output. Along with these major sources, various pieces are duplicated in scattered sources throughout Europe. His life and work are thus extremely well-preserved for the period, and his position as the most distinguished composer of the century has never wavered.

Machaut was apparently born in the vicinity of Rheims in Champagne, around the year 1300. He is first known as the secretary of John of Luxembourg in 1323, and used the position to travel extensively for various battles and political events. In approximately 1340, Machaut returned to Rheims to take up the position of canon (he had previously been an absentee office-holder) together with his brother Jean. However, he continued to serve John of Luxembourg until the latter's death at Crécy in 1346, and then served his daughter Bonne, who appears in the Remède de Fortune. The remainder of the fourteenth century was an epic of wars and plagues, and one of the few periods in which the population of Europe declined, but Machaut's reputation continued to rise. He went on to serve two kings of France, and was charged with a task as important as accompanying hostages during the English war. In 1361 the Dauphine was received in Machaut's quarters, an exceptional event. By the 1370s Machaut's name was associated with Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, thus establishing his fame nearly as far as Asia.

Machaut is frequently portrayed today as an avant garde composer, especially because of his position with regard to the early Ars Nova (a new, more detailed rhythmic notation), but one must also emphasize the masterful continuity with which he employed established forms. While using the same basic formats, he made subtle changes to meter and rhyme scheme, allowing for more personal touches and a more dramatic presentation. Indeed, Machaut's poetry is one of the most impressive French outputs of the medieval era, serving as an example even for Chaucer. The theme of courtly love dominates his writing, becoming heavily symbolized in the guises of such characters as Fortune & Love, and the personal dramas in which they act. Machaut's poetic output, and by extension the subset of texts he chose to set to music, is both personal and ritualized, lending it a timeless quality. Some of the love themes date to Ovid and beyond, from whom they had been elaborated first by the troubadours of Provence and then by the northern trouvères, and so it is truly a classical tradition to which Machaut belongs.

Machaut marks the end of the lineage of the trouvères, and with it the development of the monophonic art song in the West. This aspect of his work is found in the virelais and especially the lengthy lais. He also acted decisively to refine the emerging polyphonic song forms ballade & rondeau, and these were to become the dominant fixed forms for the following generations. What Machaut achieved so eloquently is an idiomatic and natural combination of words with music, forcefully compelling in its lyrical grace and rhythmic sophistication. His songs are immediately enjoyable, because he was able to shape the smallest melodic nuances as well as to conceive forms on a larger scale. The latter is reflected especially in his poetic-musical creations Le Remède de Fortune and Le Voir Dit, as well as in his Messe de Notre Dame. One must not lose sight of Machaut's position within the sweep of medieval history, as his great "multimedia" productions had clear precedents in the Roman de la Rose and especially the Roman de Fauvel. It is Machaut's ability to unite cogent and elegant melodic thinking with the new rhythmic possibilities of the Ars Nova which ultimately makes his musical reputation.

Although he wrote music for more than one hundred of his French poems, and even for half a dozen motets in Latin, Machaut remains best-known for his Mass of Notre Dame. This mass was written as part of the commemoration of the Virgin endowed by the Machaut brothers at Rheims, and was intended for performance in a smaller setting by specialized soloists. The most striking aspect of the piece is not simply the high quality of the contrapuntal writing, but the architectural unity of the Ordinary sections as well. Machaut's mass is not the earliest surviving mass cycle (there are two which predate it), but it is the earliest by a single composer and indeed the earliest to display this degree of unity. While the chants used as cantus firmus do vary, opening gestures and motivic figures are used to confirm the cyclical nature of the work. Technique of this magnitude is frequently offered as evidence of Machaut's prescience, given the prominence of such forms a hundred or two hundred years later, but the musical quality of his cycle can be appreciated on its own terms. Of course, the same can be said for Machaut's oeuvre as a whole.


Written by Todd McComb, 4/98
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on May 21, 2015, 02:12:13 PM
Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300-1377) is the most well-known composer of the 14th century.  I can make this statement with complete confidence of its veracity.  Machaut had a day job, he worked for John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, from ‘around twelve years’ before 1330 until at least 1333 (and probably until 1346) (Leach, Elizabeth Eva. “Guillaume de Machaut, royal almoner: Honte, paour (B25) and Donnez, signeurs (B26) in context.” Early Music 38.1 (2010): 21-42.)

These duties positioned and provided Machaut with the skill set and resources to preserve his music to a degree unavailable for most of his contemporaries.  As a result we have no problem of attribution, and at least two complete books of his works which were if not completely made by Machaut under his close supervision.  The ordering of the works in these volumes is especially important, and something Machaut no doubt controlled.

RTRH (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on May 21, 2015, 02:26:27 PM
Some basic resources on Machaut.

Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research (https://books.google.com/books?id=XSyBAAAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=Guillaume%20de%20Machaut%3A%20A%20Guide%20to%20Research&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=Guillaume%20de%20Machaut:%20A%20Guide%20to%20Research&f=false) (Lawrence Earp)

Lawrence Earp's book, which was published in 1996 is THE primary resource for conducting research on Machaut.

Companion to Guillaume de Machaut (https://books.google.com/books?id=1C5Miz3PeDYC&lpg=PP1&dq=Companion%20to%20Guillaume%20de%20Machaut&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=Companion%20to%20Guillaume%20de%20Machaut&f=false) (Deborah McGrady, Jennifer Bain)

Machaut's Music: New Interpretations (https://books.google.com/books?id=1TDdtAUOvpYC&dq=Machaut%27s+Music:+New+Interpretations&source=gbs_navlinks_s) (Elizabeth Eva Leach)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Drasko on May 21, 2015, 02:27:27 PM
Messe de Nostre Dame
Ensemble Gilles Binchois / Dominique Vellard
Live, Thoronet Abbey

http://www.youtube.com/v/11A4wqv8_wo
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on May 21, 2015, 02:29:46 PM
Messe de Nostre Dame
Ensemble Gilles Binchois / Dominique Vellard
Live, Thoronet Abbey

http://www.youtube.com/v/11A4wqv8_wo

Fantastic clip!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: North Star on May 21, 2015, 04:46:08 PM
Messe de Nostre Dame
Ensemble Gilles Binchois / Dominique Vellard
Live, Thoronet Abbey
Fantastic clip!
Yes it is, and that was actually my introduction to Machaut a couple of years ago.

This reissue of recordings by the same group is the only Machaut I own, and it would certainly be a great introduction to the composer for anyone, covering the Mass, non-liturgical motets, and secular chansons in superb performances.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on May 21, 2015, 05:01:31 PM
This reissue of recordings by the same group is the only Machaut I own, and it would certainly be a great introduction to the composer for anyone, covering the Mass, non-liturgical motets, and secular chansons in superb performances.



I always recommend that one when I'm asked about Machaut. 

 :)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 22, 2015, 02:41:33 AM
High time for this thread!

Got a quick side bar on Machaut/Machault?  :)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on May 22, 2015, 02:48:30 AM
High time for this thread!

Got a quick side bar on Machaut/Machault?  :)

I know; I've seen it both ways.  But I think most often (nowadays) his name is spelled without the "L". Machault is the town from where it is thought he was from.  But even that is speculative.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: North Star on May 22, 2015, 02:49:24 AM
High time for this thread!

Got a quick side bar on Machaut/Machault?  :)
Spellings were not exactly standardized back then, even in France.  0:)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 22, 2015, 03:50:26 AM
:)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 22, 2015, 03:51:43 AM
My quirky use of the l-form refers to a Wuorinen adaptation which I have yet to hear: Machault mon chou.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on May 22, 2015, 09:36:11 PM
Yes it is, and that was actually my introduction to Machaut a couple of years ago.

This reissue of recordings by the same group is the only Machaut I own, and it would certainly be a great introduction to the composer for anyone, covering the Mass, non-liturgical motets, and secular chansons in superb performances.



The thing which drew my attention to Machaut was the mass with Ensemble Organum, partly because it was so disorienting, the byzentine chant, I had no idea that music could sound like that! Another recording I liked a lot when I was exploring this music for the first time was of secular music by Studio der Frühen musik, The Lay da La Fonteine, not least because I find Andrea von Ramm's voice quite sexy.

Recently, when I've listened to Machaut it has mainly been to the big long lays in Voir Dit and elsewhere, partly because I'm curious about how people make music out of stuff which can all too easily be repetitive and monotonous.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Artem on May 24, 2015, 03:24:20 AM
My introduction to Mauchaut was the Orlando Consort CD oh Hyperion from last year and it was the longest work on that CD, Longuement me sui tenus 'Le lay de Bon Esperance', that had captured my attention the most. I found it very unique and enjoyable.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 20, 2015, 11:30:01 AM
MACHAUT’S MESSE DE NOTRE DAME : AN OVERVIEW (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/machauts-messe-de-notre-dame-an-overview/)

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/machaut_mass_score.jpg?w=502&h=345)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on November 20, 2015, 12:44:24 PM
MACHAUT’S MESSE DE NOTRE DAME : AN OVERVIEW (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/machauts-messe-de-notre-dame-an-overview/)

Thanks for this overview. I've got the Oxford Camerata (Naxos) recording.

Been listening to this week to his secular songs on the classic D. Munrow anthology, The Art of Courtly Love.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 20, 2015, 01:47:07 PM
Thanks for this overview. I've got the Oxford Camerata (Naxos) recording.

Been listening to this week to his secular songs on the classic D. Munrow anthology, The Art of Courtly Love.

That one is a good one; not the best, but among the better recordings.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 19, 2016, 05:40:09 AM
Andrew Parrott recorded the Messe in 1983

(https://album-art-storage-us.s3.amazonaws.com/539409e2615176e233428a7e034af19173a65b18a7eda6617ec756956f51f00e_500x500.jpg?response-content-type=image%2Fjpeg&x-amz-security-token=FQoDYXdzED8aDGZKOXCAoaV9w9P%2F5SKsAcG7JRQWaDfLx7cZBK5pNvgYxg9WpcTgZMd6Nnb9eqxcfxhZ2GOder9Rkx0vmUH7fgfDEnxa6MTHyTMsjUtpPpAkEtUjh%2F9WrDaIXXNxgeIwYGC8%2F4R9MYMKbaxQQihs0RyZAUFc3FDCIXCyczl9FG4V64HC3IAf0CKHxr2KOVnmXTZ43ysWWpjCuhqNJbwhks85YT%2BcicuXLhCgfkwDxd0gmwYroLctSkGLR9sog%2BjdwgU%3D&AWSAccessKeyId=ASIAJFJEWX2L77YMJ4KA&Expires=1482240153&Signature=hyW%2F7%2F8d5bmaIgCC2ueUKaFtBt0%3D)

Soon to be available in January 2017 as part of this compilation:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91096x185UL._SX425_.jpg)

My copy is on vinyl purchased shortly after it was released and is still one of my favorite versions, primarily because Parrott developed the research that the modern pitch of A 440 is a fourth higher than was common in the period of Machaut. 

The overall ranges of the Mass vocal parts are as follows (c' = middle C):

Triplum       c"-a
Motetus       f'-c
Tenor          f'-c
Contratenor f'-c

Both this vocal scoring and the work's contrapuntal construction suggest performance by pairs of voice-types; and nowadays these are likely to be two countertenors and two tenors, singing at or near modern pitch.

With his 1983 recording, Andrew Parrott proposed that falsetto was not commonly used in the Middle Ages, and that the Mass should therefore be sung by two tenors and two basses a fourth below modern pitch.  However, the debate is far from over.  Performers who adopt the lower scoring, however, should select basses with the clearest possible tone: Machaut's close harmony can easily be destroyed by over-rich lower voices.  (Something I think Peres comes close to achieving.)

Even though I have the LP of Parrott's Messe, I still plan on purchasing the CD when it is available.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: BasilValentine on December 19, 2016, 09:27:11 AM
I find Machaut's chanson more attractive than the motets or mass. Rose Liz was my first favorite. Same feelings about Dufay. The secular music is less stodgy and baroque (not in the music-historical sense, in the original sense). 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 19, 2016, 09:37:08 AM
I find Machaut's chanson more attractive than the motets or mass. Rose Liz was my first favorite. Same feelings about Dufay. The secular music is less stodgy and baroque (not in the music-historical sense, in the original sense).

Machaut's songs occupy probably the bulk of his output, and as you say are very engaging.  He was probably considered a poet first and a composer second during his lifetime and he arguably invested more of himself in the songs than the sacred works.  That said, the Messe is a hugely important work, not only historically which it certainly is, but musically it incorporates a variety of contrapuntal techniques which put it on a high level among his works.

Not that "alleged importance" is a factor when choosing which works one finds most appealing.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 19, 2016, 09:46:09 AM
I find Machaut's chanson more attractive than the motets or mass. Rose Liz was my first favorite. Same feelings about Dufay. The secular music is less stodgy and baroque (not in the music-historical sense, in the original sense).

Yes, this idea is something that, by coincidence, has crossed my mind a lot for the masses at least.

With the Machaut mass I found a performance which is light and prayerful, and the same for a one commercial recoding of a Dufay mass. But it's a problem for me as it is for you - for Josquin too.

(Is Lay de la Fonteine a motet? Anyway it isn't secular as far as I know, and Thomas Binkley makes it sound pretty light I think. )
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 23, 2016, 10:02:38 AM
Seasonal music:


A Christmas mass that is constructed from music from the Papal Chapel in Avignon, home of the Papacy from 1309 to 1376.
The result is a combination of musical styles: that of the earlier Notre Dame School and the newer Ars Nova style.

Excellent performance by Diabolus in Musica back in 1999 for the tiny French label Studio FM, now run by ADF-Bayard Musique (http://www.adf-bayardmusique.com/).

Q

Well I guess that mass suggests that either Machaut didn't invent the polyphonic sung mass, or that the style moved really rapidly from Paris to Avignon. It makes me think that all that talk about "strangeness" that you hear from Bjorn Schmelzer in the booklet of his Machaut CD is overstating the case. Thanks for pointing out this fascinating release.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 23, 2016, 12:18:55 PM
Well I guess that mass suggests that either Machaut didn't invent the polyphonic sung mass, or that the style moved really rapidly from Paris to Avignon. It makes me think that all that talk about "strangeness" that you hear from Bjorn Schmelzer in the booklet of his Machaut CD is overstating the case. Thanks for pointing out this fascinating release.

There had been many examples of polyphonic masses, just not written by one composer until Machaut.  Prior to his Messe de Nostre Dame, the sections were stitched together from various sources.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 23, 2016, 12:34:59 PM
There had been many examples of polyphonic masses, just not written by one composer until Machaut.  Prior to his Messe de Nostre Dame, the sections were stitched together from various sources.

And is this because the incomplete masses have lost movements? I wonder if we have examples of say, two mass movements by one composer.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 23, 2016, 12:44:02 PM
And is this because the incomplete masses have lost movements? I wonder if we have examples of say, two mass movements by one composer.

No. they just didn't write complete masses; just individual sections here and there.  The masses were functional not artistic expressions.  That is why Machaut's mass was a departure from custom.  I don't know the answer to your question, but many of the sections were anonymously written.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 23, 2016, 01:01:45 PM
No. they just didn't write complete masses; just individual sections here and there.  The masses were functional not artistic expressions.  That is why Machaut's mass was a departure from custom.  I don't know the answer to your question, but many of the sections were anonymously written.

Here's more from Grove:

There are three main sources for the French repertory (ed. in PMFC, xxiii). The Apt choirbook (F-APT 16bis) of around 1400 contains ten Kyries, nine Glorias, ten Credos, four Sanctus and one Agnus, of which 21 have text only in the upper voices. The slightly earlier manuscript I-IV 115 has four Kyries, nine Glorias, ten Credos, two Sanctus and two motets on Ite missa est; 15 of these are in motet style. The manuscript E-Bc 853c-d, containing five Kyries, one Gloria, three Credos and one Sanctus, is one of 12 Ars Nova manuscript fragments known from the old Kingdom of Aragon, which bordered on Avignon: between them they contain some 40 Mass Ordinary movements, of which 23 are in discant style. Small though the French Mass repertory may be, it is very widely disseminated, with several works appearing in ten or more sources, often in substantially different versions. Composers can be named for less than a third of the repertory, but at least five of them can be associated with the Avignon curia: Perrinet, Tailhandier, Tapissier, Sortes and Peliso.

Of the mass music by Italian composers (mainly Glorias, Credos and Sanctus settings, ed. in PMFC, xii) only about a quarter shows pure Italian style: the rest is heavily influenced by the French tradition. The main named composers are Philippus de Caserta, who worked in Avignon, and Antonio Zacara da Teramo and Matteo da Perugia, both connected with the papal curia in Bologna. In the entirely anonymous English repertory from the early 14th century (ed. in PMFC, xvi) Credo settings are particularly rare. Most of the music is in simple homophonic style and perhaps derives from the growing custom of singing Marian votive masses. Special to the English repertory is the survival of Mass Proper settings.

While the manuscripts normally grouped settings of a particular text together, there are some examples of apparent cyclic grouping, though never more than one such group in any single manuscript. The TOURNAI MASS (B-Tc 476, ed. in PMFC, i; also ed. J. Dumoulin and others, Tournai 1988), considered the earliest, has six Ordinary movements, of which the last is a motet in Ars Nova style, Se grasse/Ite, missa est/Cum venerint (known also from I-IV 115 and from the index of F-Pn n.a.fr.23190; the Credo has three further sources, two of them in earlier notation and of Spanish origin, and the Gloria has a further source in F-CA 1328 (n), no.2). Only the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus are unique, all in Franconian notation. There is no apparent musical connection between the six movements apart from their being all in three voices and all in simultaneous style apart from the concluding motet (which shares its tenor with a motet by Marchetto da Padova).

The four-voice Messe de Nostre Dame of Guillaume de Machaut, composed perhaps in the early 1360s for Reims Cathedral, is more unified and is important as the earliest such cycle conceived as a unit by a single composer. Machaut may have known some of the Tournai cycle, since his Gloria and Credo have similar textless musical interludes and share other features; they are in simultaneous style and end with a long melismatic Amen. The other four movements of Machaut’s mass are in the manner of motets, but all voices carry the same mass text. The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV; the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII; and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, though they are stylistically related to one another.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 23, 2016, 01:44:15 PM
Here's more from Grove:

There are three main sources for the French repertory (ed. in PMFC, xxiii). The Apt choirbook (F-APT 16bis) of around 1400 contains ten Kyries, nine Glorias, ten Credos, four Sanctus and one Agnus, of which 21 have text only in the upper voices. The slightly earlier manuscript I-IV 115 has four Kyries, nine Glorias, ten Credos, two Sanctus and two motets on Ite missa est; 15 of these are in motet style. The manuscript E-Bc 853c-d, containing five Kyries, one Gloria, three Credos and one Sanctus, is one of 12 Ars Nova manuscript fragments known from the old Kingdom of Aragon, which bordered on Avignon: between them they contain some 40 Mass Ordinary movements, of which 23 are in discant style. Small though the French Mass repertory may be, it is very widely disseminated, with several works appearing in ten or more sources, often in substantially different versions. Composers can be named for less than a third of the repertory, but at least five of them can be associated with the Avignon curia: Perrinet, Tailhandier, Tapissier, Sortes and Peliso.

Of the mass music by Italian composers (mainly Glorias, Credos and Sanctus settings, ed. in PMFC, xii) only about a quarter shows pure Italian style: the rest is heavily influenced by the French tradition. The main named composers are Philippus de Caserta, who worked in Avignon, and Antonio Zacara da Teramo and Matteo da Perugia, both connected with the papal curia in Bologna. In the entirely anonymous English repertory from the early 14th century (ed. in PMFC, xvi) Credo settings are particularly rare. Most of the music is in simple homophonic style and perhaps derives from the growing custom of singing Marian votive masses. Special to the English repertory is the survival of Mass Proper settings.

While the manuscripts normally grouped settings of a particular text together, there are some examples of apparent cyclic grouping, though never more than one such group in any single manuscript. The TOURNAI MASS (B-Tc 476, ed. in PMFC, i; also ed. J. Dumoulin and others, Tournai 1988), considered the earliest, has six Ordinary movements, of which the last is a motet in Ars Nova style, Se grasse/Ite, missa est/Cum venerint (known also from I-IV 115 and from the index of F-Pn n.a.fr.23190; the Credo has three further sources, two of them in earlier notation and of Spanish origin, and the Gloria has a further source in F-CA 1328 (n), no.2). Only the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus are unique, all in Franconian notation. There is no apparent musical connection between the six movements apart from their being all in three voices and all in simultaneous style apart from the concluding motet (which shares its tenor with a motet by Marchetto da Padova).

The four-voice Messe de Nostre Dame of Guillaume de Machaut, composed perhaps in the early 1360s for Reims Cathedral, is more unified and is important as the earliest such cycle conceived as a unit by a single composer. Machaut may have known some of the Tournai cycle, since his Gloria and Credo have similar textless musical interludes and share other features; they are in simultaneous style and end with a long melismatic Amen. The other four movements of Machaut’s mass are in the manner of motets, but all voices carry the same mass text. The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV; the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII; and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, though they are stylistically related to one another.

That's much appreciated and very interesting. I need to look again at what Schmelzer says about strangeness I think. Given that polyphonic movements of the mass were obviously common and widespread, what exactly is he saying was so strange about Machaut's mass for contemporary audiences?
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 23, 2016, 01:54:34 PM
That's much appreciated and very interested. I need to look again at what Schmelzer says about strangeness I think. Given that polyphonic movements of the mass were obviously common and widespread, what exactly is he saying was so strange about Machaut's mass for contemporary audiences?

I don't know what Schmelzer said, I haven't read the notes (if I even have them with my download).  The only thing "strange" is the fact that until Machaut wrote his mass, the music was not unified and at times the styles somewhat divergent.  Machaut wrote his mass utilizing thematic features in order to unify the music from section to section.  I would not call this "strange" but rather unfamiliar to the people of his time.

Mass music grew out of the monophonic music dating back to the 2nd century and gradually additional voices were added.  Most of the time the monophonic original was a chant, not composed, and additional voices were often parallel.  The gradual development of polyphony took several hundred years, with the only constant being an oral transmission (notation lagged far behind) of anonymous chant plus additional voices which were taught based on principles also transmitted orally.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 23, 2016, 01:59:11 PM
By the way, one of the things which came as a bit of a surprise in that Missa Magna CD is that the credo ends with a wild amen like in Machaut, there must have been a tradition for mad amens at the end of the credo!

"Strangeness" is the key idea for Schmelzer and possibly for Pérès, it's the reason BS chose to use Corsican / eastern singing style - to make us all feel uncomfortable. And that's because he thinks that Machaut's audience would have felt a shock of the new when they heard the mass. 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Ken B on December 23, 2016, 08:57:24 PM
Here's more from Grove:

There are three main sources for the French repertory (ed. in PMFC, xxiii). The Apt choirbook (F-APT 16bis) of around 1400 contains ten Kyries, nine Glorias, ten Credos, four Sanctus and one Agnus, of which 21 have text only in the upper voices. The slightly earlier manuscript I-IV 115 has four Kyries, nine Glorias, ten Credos, two Sanctus and two motets on Ite missa est; 15 of these are in motet style. The manuscript E-Bc 853c-d, containing five Kyries, one Gloria, three Credos and one Sanctus, is one of 12 Ars Nova manuscript fragments known from the old Kingdom of Aragon, which bordered on Avignon: between them they contain some 40 Mass Ordinary movements, of which 23 are in discant style. Small though the French Mass repertory may be, it is very widely disseminated, with several works appearing in ten or more sources, often in substantially different versions. Composers can be named for less than a third of the repertory, but at least five of them can be associated with the Avignon curia: Perrinet, Tailhandier, Tapissier, Sortes and Peliso.

Of the mass music by Italian composers (mainly Glorias, Credos and Sanctus settings, ed. in PMFC, xii) only about a quarter shows pure Italian style: the rest is heavily influenced by the French tradition. The main named composers are Philippus de Caserta, who worked in Avignon, and Antonio Zacara da Teramo and Matteo da Perugia, both connected with the papal curia in Bologna. In the entirely anonymous English repertory from the early 14th century (ed. in PMFC, xvi) Credo settings are particularly rare. Most of the music is in simple homophonic style and perhaps derives from the growing custom of singing Marian votive masses. Special to the English repertory is the survival of Mass Proper settings.

While the manuscripts normally grouped settings of a particular text together, there are some examples of apparent cyclic grouping, though never more than one such group in any single manuscript. The TOURNAI MASS (B-Tc 476, ed. in PMFC, i; also ed. J. Dumoulin and others, Tournai 1988), considered the earliest, has six Ordinary movements, of which the last is a motet in Ars Nova style, Se grasse/Ite, missa est/Cum venerint (known also from I-IV 115 and from the index of F-Pn n.a.fr.23190; the Credo has three further sources, two of them in earlier notation and of Spanish origin, and the Gloria has a further source in F-CA 1328 (n), no.2). Only the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus are unique, all in Franconian notation. There is no apparent musical connection between the six movements apart from their being all in three voices and all in simultaneous style apart from the concluding motet (which shares its tenor with a motet by Marchetto da Padova).

The four-voice Messe de Nostre Dame of Guillaume de Machaut, composed perhaps in the early 1360s for Reims Cathedral, is more unified and is important as the earliest such cycle conceived as a unit by a single composer. Machaut may have known some of the Tournai cycle, since his Gloria and Credo have similar textless musical interludes and share other features; they are in simultaneous style and end with a long melismatic Amen. The other four movements of Machaut’s mass are in the manner of motets, but all voices carry the same mass text. The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV; the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII; and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, though they are stylistically related to one another.

Interesting, thanks for posting it.

There is at least one recording of the Tournai mass available, on Naxos, which is worth hearing.

Related and recommended.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 24, 2016, 03:33:27 PM
By the way, one of the things which came as a bit of a surprise in that Missa Magna CD is that the credo ends with a wild amen like in Machaut, there must have been a tradition for mad amens at the end of the credo!

"Strangeness" is the key idea for Schmelzer and possibly for Pérès, it's the reason BS chose to use Corsican / eastern singing style - to make us all feel uncomfortable. And that's because he thinks that Machaut's audience would have felt a shock of the new when they heard the mass.

Respectfully, I think they are off on their own tack and on shaky historical ground.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 24, 2016, 03:37:01 PM
There is at least one recording of the Tournai mass available, on Naxos, which is worth hearing.

Machaut probably knew the Tournai mass because his Messe also ends with a motet setting of "Ite, missa est".

Quote
Related and recommended.



Wonderful recording.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 24, 2016, 11:53:35 PM
(Whoever moved this stuff here, I would have appreciated a message saying where it was)

Respectfully, I think they are off on their own tack and on shaky historical ground.

 ;)



Just to focus in on the question, it is: is the Machaut mass a radical innovation in music which would have surprised and disturbed contemporary audiences, or is it a relatively conservative extension of an established practice of composed polyphonic mass music?

(And, though I hope this doesn't really need saying, neither Pérès nor Schmelzer are claiming that Machaut and his near contemporaries used Eastern or Corsican style singing for the mass!)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 12:21:16 AM


There is at least one recording of the Tournai mass available, on Naxos, which is worth hearing.



Pérès recorded it too, and so did Pro Cantone Antiqua. Of the three I enjoy Pérès the most.

Note that Pérès did NOT use Corsican throat singing, or indeed Byzantine singing, for his recording of the Tournai mass - this may be relevant to understanding Pérès's view of the special status of the Machaut mass as we've started to discuss in the post above,
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 12:25:31 AM
Machaut probably knew the Tournai mass because his Messe also ends with a motet setting of "Ite, missa est".


Other settings exist - for example there's one on Pérès's constructed "Missa Gotica" taken from The Toulouse Mass. And there's one in the Missa Magna from Diabolus in Musica. I'm not sure enough of the  chronology of all these things to comment on what Machaut could have known.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 01:01:00 AM
(Whoever moved this stuff here, I would have appreciated a message saying where it was)

Why here and not the Machaut thread? 

Quote
Just to focus in on the question, it is: is the Machaut mass a radical innovation in music which would have surprised and disturbed contemporary audiences, or is it a relatively conservative extension of an established practice of composed polyphonic mass music?

Machaut did not release copies of his mass other than as parts of his collected works with the exception of the Ite missa est, and as a consequence his mass exerted little if any influence during his lifetime.  Even after his death, his primary influence was not regarding style of the settings, but on the idea of composing complete mass settings.

Quote
(And, though I hope this doesn't really need saying, neither Pérès nor Schmelzer are claiming that Machaut and his near contemporaries used Eastern or Corsican style singing for the mass!)

Well, that is the issue isn't it.  Whatever ideas Peres and Schmelzer have about how controversial the Machaut mass is, the case that the choir at Rheims sang in a Byzantine style is weak to say the least.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 01:06:11 AM
Other settings exist - for example there's one on Pérès's constructed "Missa Gotica" taken from The Toulouse Mass. And there's one in the Missa Magna from Diabolus in Musica. I'm not sure enough of the  chronology of all these things to comment on what Machaut could have known.

I am not a musicologist and am relying mainly on the book written by Daniel Leech-Wilkerson (who is a medievalist and Machaut scholar), he writes that based on an examination of the music itself, Machaut would seem to be writing within the tradition of mass settings, and there is internal evidence that he more precisely used the Tournai Mass as precedent. 

That last is not only based on the inclusion of the sixth section "Ite, missa est", but also on the Credo: "several writers have drawn attention to similarities between Machaut's mass and the set of movements known as the Mass of Tournai; so that it is possible that Machaut's model was not so much general tradition as the example of this specific collection.  In fact their similarities are striking only in the Credo settings, which are so closely related that one must have been based on the other, presumably the Machaut upon Tournai since the latter is almost certainly earlier."

(I will need to read the chapter on the Credo to understand more fully what Leech-Wilkerson is saying, because for me his point is a little cloudy that that passage.  However, I think what comes through most clearly is the Tournai mass being the primary model Machaut used.)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 01:06:56 AM

Well, that is the issue isn't it.  Whatever ideas Peres and Schmelzer have about how controversial the Machaut mass is, the case that the choir at Rheims sang in a Byzantine style is weak to say the least.

It's a red herring, no one has ever suggested they actually sang it like that at the time. Singing it now like how they sang it then is NOT what Schmelzer is trying to do, Pérès neither.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 01:11:40 AM
It's a red herring, no one has ever suggested they actually sang it like that at the time. Singing it now like how they sang it then is NOT what Schmelzer is trying to do, Pérès neither.

What are they trying to do? 

While those recordings have provided a rewarding listening experience (I have currently decided that I like Peres, the jury is still out on Schmelzer), I have always been struck by the stylistic oddity of their singing of this music.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Que on December 25, 2016, 01:22:31 AM
Pérès recorded it too, and so did Pro Cantone Antiqua. Of the three I enjoy Pérès the most.

Note that Pérès did NOT use Corsican throat singing, or indeed Byzantine singing, for his recording of the Tournai mass - this may be relevant to understanding Pérès's view of the special status of the Machaut mass as we've started to discuss in the post above,

I also like Pérès' recording of the Tournai Mass, and it's indeed an interesting point you make that this "Byzantine" style is not applied...
I'm wondering why not? Perhaps because it is an earlier recording from 1991?

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41vhxiwIzWL.jpg)

Anyway, it is a gorgeous recording all the same. :)

Q
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 01:41:28 AM
What are they trying to do? 


I believe they are trying to effect us in a way which is similar to the way Machaut's audience were effected. So shock, surprise, disorientation, a sense of newness etc.

That's why it's important to understand the newness of Machaut's ideas- if it's just that he was the first to write a single mass as opposed to a credo here and a kyrie there, then I'm not sure I follow Schmelzer's argument at all.

One thing to not forget in all of this, is that the mass movements are in different styles.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 01:51:31 AM

Perhaps because it is an earlier recording from 1991?


I don't think so.

I've not checked the dates of these things but there are many later recordings where he uses western singing, for example in the Eglise de Rome mass, the music from Auxèrre, the music from Aquitaine, the Cictercian chant recording, the gradual of Aléanor de Bretagne. So being a later recording is not a sufficient condition.

And I think (but I'm not sure) that the Christmas mass from Notre Dame, the second EO recording, predates the Missa Tournai, and it does use Byzantine singing, so being a later recording is not a necessary condition.

Maybe one of us should write to him and ask him about this.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 02:14:19 AM
I believe they are trying to effect us in a way which is similar to the way Machaut's audience were effected. So shock, surprise, disorientation, a sense of newness etc.

First there is little evidence the mass was performed often: at least on one Marian feast day and possibly as a memorial performance for Machaut and his brother.  Second, there is no evidence that the mass was controversial regarding how it sounded to a contemporary audience.

Quote
That's why it's important to understand the newness of Machaut's ideas- if it's just that he was the first to write a single mass as opposed to a credo here and a kyrie there, then I'm not sure I follow Schmelzer's argument at all.

This is my point, his was unique because it was the first solely composed mass setting.  Having not read Schmelzer's argument, I will re-read the booklet with Peres's and see what is there.   

Quote
One thing to not forget in all of this, is that the mass movements are in different styles.

That aspect does not constitute evidence of "newness" or "controversy" surrounding Machaut's Messe since stylistic difference was also true for masses created from separate movements.  The only real stylistic variety in Machaut's mass is the fact that some movements are isorhytmic and others not (it is questionable if an audience could tell the difference). 

There is more evidence that the existence of linking aspects between the movements was a unifying feature that Machaut created which was new (not for him, since that was a hallmark of his work and obvious when the collections he made of his complete catalog are examined [he used references almost like hyperlinking to previous or later poems]) and something not found in assembled mass settings.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 02:29:54 AM
Daniel Leech-Wilkerson calls into question the most prominent features of both Peres and Schmelzer:

"As far as vocal style is concerned, it is worth remembering that everything we know of the harmonic and rhythmic language of fourteenth-century polyphony suggests that its essence lies in the progression from imperfect to perfect consonance and from activity to stasis.  These processes are most effective when the voices are clear and absolutely precise about articulation and pitch.  Continuous vibrato and rubato should therefore be avoided."

Of course this could just be some scholarly turf battling since Leech-Wilkerson is British and describes the classic British style of singing as ideal.  Nevertheless, Machaut's mass does incorporate some dissonance which would could easily become cloudy and the effect weakened by the kind of liberties taken by Peres and Schmelzer.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 04:18:35 AM
I think I've found as good an explanation as I going to find for Peres' concept in his choice of singers and interpretation with Machaut's mass.  This comes from a review (http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/machaut-messe-de-notre-dame) of two recordings in Gramphone (Summerly and Peres):

Notwithstanding the obvious misgivings one might have (approach to musica ficta, to ornamentation, to plainsong intonation, and problems of ensemble), Peres’s reading makes a point that is so often conveniently ignored: we have no idea what Machaut’s singers actually sounded like, or how they produced the sound in their throats. Peter Phillips once made that point, envisaging the possibility that we might find the ‘authentic’ sound unbearable. As I have got used (slowly) to Organum’s sound, I have been reminded how far Machaut’s world is from our own. This recording questions a fundamental and untestable assumption about medieval polyphony. As such, it is an intriguing alternative to other all-vocal performances, even if there are too many other imponderables to warrant an unconditional recommendation.'

All true, we are far removed from Machaut's time and we do not know how his singers sounded, so utilizing some kind of interpretative technique to make the music sound somewhat strange to our ears may not be a bad thing.  Still, I think if too much effort is given to making this point with the sound the singers produce, the impression of the work stands a good chance of becoming distorted.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 05:14:48 AM
First there is little evidence the mass was performed often: at least on one Marian feast day and possibly as a memorial performance for Machaut and his brother. 

I thought he left an endowment to ensure that his the mass would be sung regularly as part of an annual memorial ceremony for himself and his brother.

If that's right he was trying to make his music live on after his death, and he would have known that it would be presented in different ways, subject to different singing styles. He knew that singing is a living practice,  and that the score doesn't determine what a performance will sound like.

That's why using Corsican ornamentation and timbres is perfectly consistent with Machaut's musical intentions: by letting the Corsican singers respond creatively to the score, the mass gets plugged into a living tradition which goes all the way back to the 14th century in fact.

As far as I know there was no such endowment and regular practice associated with the Tournai. This could partially explain why Pérès treated them so differently.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 06:01:09 AM
I thought he left an endowment to ensure that his the mass would be sung regularly as part of an annual memorial ceremony for himself and his brother.

I stand corrected.  It appears the mass was performed well into the 15th century in this manner.  But this does not make the case it was strange, just the opposite, depending upon how well attended were these performances.

Quote
If that's right he was trying to make his music live on after his death, and he would have known that it would be presented in different ways, subject to different singing styles. He knew that singing is a living practice,  and that the score doesn't determine what a performance will sound like.

That's why using Corsican ornamentation and timbres is perfectly consistent with Machaut's musical intentions: by letting the Corsican singers respond creatively to the score, the mass gets plugged into a living tradition which goes all the way back to the 14th century in fact.

Plenty of assumptions in this post. 

I think because of the little we know about the sound of Machaut's singers during this period, choral directors should concentrate on issues of pitching and tuning of the ensemble (things for which there is scholarship on firmer ground).  I have read that it is particularly anachronistic to apply equal temperament to this music, a more appropriate tuning would be Pythagorean, which uses perfect fifths and octaves but widens the thirds and sixths.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Ken B on December 25, 2016, 06:13:31 AM
I thought he left an endowment to ensure that his the mass would be sung regularly as part of an annual memorial ceremony for himself and his brother.

If that's right he was trying to make his music live on after his death, and he would have known that it would be presented in different ways, subject to different singing styles. He knew that singing is a living practice,  and that the score doesn't determine what a performance will sound like.

That's why using Corsican ornamentation and timbres is perfectly consistent with Machaut's musical intentions: by letting the Corsican singers respond creatively to the score, the mass gets plugged into a living tradition which goes all the way back to the 14th century in fact.

As far as I know there was no such endowment and regular practice associated with the Tournai. This could partially explain why Pérès treated them so differently.
I question the bit about his motive. Those who could afford it routinely endowed masses for their souls after they died. Shortened the time in purgatory. Postmortem prayer and singing were big business for monks and churches.  I don't think you should read musical motivations here.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 06:52:51 AM
Can we just get clear about this? Is there an earlier mass which was written to be performed after the death of the composer? Or part of a mass? Or prayer?
My guess is that no, Machaut was the first, and that makes a huge difference to what is responsible, stylish performance now.



I think because of the little we know about the sound of Machaut's singers during this period, choral directors should concentrate on issues of pitching and tuning of the ensemble (things for which there is scholarship on firmer ground). 

I know (I'll find the quote later) that Peres would say yes to this, but would add that ornamentation matters enormously in 14th century music. And we know very little about ornamentation. Hence the interest in plugging into Corsican ornamentation ideas, since their tradition goes all the way back to the middle ages and is insulated from from the familiar practices of mainland France, so strange sounding.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 07:03:32 AM
Can we just get clear about this? Is there an earlier mass which was written to be performed after the death of the composer? Or part of a mass? Or prayer?
My guess is that no, Machaut was the first, and that makes a huge difference to what is responsible, stylish performance now.

I agree that since Machaut was the first composer to write a complete mass setting he was probably the first to leave an endowment for its performance after his death.  However, other members of the aristocracy probably left similar endowments for masses to be said in their memory, which may have included sung sections.  This practice certainly predated Machaut.

I doubt you and I will ever agree on whether Peres has enough documentary evidence to support the kind of radical ornamentation he employs in his mass recording.  He is of course free to do what he wants to with the music, but his performance ideas are pure speculation. 

I enjoy his recording, with the caveat, that it is not my go-to recording and not the one I recommend to newbies.

For my money, Andrew Parrott's recording is still the best of the ones I've heard.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 08:09:12 AM


I doubt you and I will ever agree on whether Peres has enough documentary evidence to support the kind of radical ornamentation he employs in his mass recording. 

We will agree because he is NOT saying that he has any evidence at all to support his ornamentations per se, but he does have evidence for the claim that ornamentation was used.



He is of course free to do what he wants to with the music, but his performance ideas are pure speculation. 



Correct, imaginative speculation by experienced artists from a tradition which goes way back to Machaut's time. Hence, he thinks, entirely appropriate imaginative responses.




For my money, Andrew Parrott's recording is still the best of the ones I've heard.

Oxbridge Machaut. The best is the one you won't download -- Rebecca Stewart.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 08:22:56 AM
We will agree because he is NOT saying that he has any evidence at all to support his ornamentations per se, but he does have evidence for the claim that ornamentation was used.

And how he uses them makes all the difference.

Quote
Correct, imaginative speculation by experienced artists from a tradition which goes way back to Machaut's time. Hence, he thinks, entirely appropriate imaginative responses.

I doubt even Peres would claim to have direct access to what kind of ornamentation was used in Machaut's time.  He is doing what he thinks sounds good with the music, and trying to distinguish his interpretation from all the others.

Quote
Oxbridge Machaut. The best is the one you won't download -- Rebecca Stewart.

Either you haven't heard Parrott's recording or you can't tell the difference between a countertenor and a high tenor.  The main aspect of Parrott's recording which I like is the fact that he pitches it down a fourth, which is not standard among the "Oxbridge" groups, and allows his tenors to not employ a falsetto voice as do Jeremy Summerly's and other groups such as the Hilliard Ensemble and even the Orlando Consort.  Some even use women.   :P

I fully intend to find Rebecca Stewart's recording.  She is a respected Machaut scholar and I want to hear it, and she advises against the use of countertenors.  The fact that the only source you have pointed to is a Russian download site is unfortunate.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 25, 2016, 05:32:40 PM
Quote
The best is the one you won't download -- Rebecca Stewart.

I appreciate you sending me these tracks, but I can't agree with your assessment.  The sinewy phrasing, and ritardando/swelling throughout did not do it for me.

 :(
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2016, 10:22:45 PM
I appreciate you sending me these tracks, but I can't agree with your assessment.  The sinewy phrasing, and ritardando/swelling throughout did not do it for me.

 :(

Too bad.

I wonder if any of your books talk about the best tempo. In the booklet to Lucien Kandel's recording there's some discussion about recent, changed,  ideas about interpreting tempi and note values.

Kandel's is the second best recording of the  Machaut mass
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 26, 2016, 04:29:14 AM
Too bad.

I wonder if any of your books talk about the best tempo. In the booklet to Lucien Kandel's recording there's some discussion about recent, changed,  ideas about interpreting tempi and note values.

Kandel's is the second best recording of the  Machaut mass

Musica Nova's performance (as is Stewart's) fairly slow.  And they appear to be using women's voices. 

The main considerations for tempo concern finding a balance between achieving a nice pace but not so fast that the articulated phrases become blurred and not so slow which would cause the long notes to become so long that the pace is destroyed.  I don't think either Rebecca Stewart or Musica Nova are too slow, just on the slow side.

I did a spot comparison between MN and Parrott of the credo.  Big difference in tempo, but more striking is the pitching of Parrott's all male group (lower), which is much more to my liking. 

It is probably safe to say that you and I are looking for different attributes for our preferred performances of this work.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 26, 2016, 03:33:44 PM
I thought he left an endowment to ensure that his the mass would be sung regularly as part of an annual memorial ceremony for himself and his brother.

If that's right he was trying to make his music live on after his death, and he would have known that it would be presented in different ways, subject to different singing styles. He knew that singing is a living practice,  and that the score doesn't determine what a performance will sound like.

That's why using Corsican ornamentation and timbres is perfectly consistent with Machaut's musical intentions: by letting the Corsican singers respond creatively to the score, the mass gets plugged into a living tradition which goes all the way back to the 14th century in fact.

As far as I know there was no such endowment and regular practice associated with the Tournai. This could partially explain why Pérès treated them so differently.

I managed to download the booklet with Schmelzer's notes and have decided he is acting out his own agenda which is not supported by the available documentation.  He gets his ideas from art criticism and not musicology, certainly not from musicology associated with Early Music.

1.  We do not have a copy of Machaut's will and the information regarding an endowment is based upon the transcription of a bronze plaque that was inside the Reims cathedral until the 18th century (the plaque itself no longer exists, nor are Machaut or his brother  buried in the cathedral).  This text alludes to an amount of money collected by friends of Machaut (probably other canons) and made available for a short dedicatory prayer to be recited prior to the regular Saturday Lady Mass.  We have no evidence that the mass sung was even Machaut's.

Schmelzer makes much from the assumption that Machaut intended his mass to be performed after his death.  Schmelzer creates an entire mythology around this idea using highfalutin words such as "euchrony" to posit an attitude he attributes to Machaut (and one you seem to have accepted whole-cloth) that future generations have the right to reinterpret Machaut's mass as they see fit, because that is what he wanted.  Smacks of a Regietheater approach to Machaut.

2.  La Messe de Nostre Dame of Machaut appears in notation in five of his collected works.  In only one of these is it entitled "Messe de Nostre Dame".  In one other it is merely called "Le Messe" in the other three it has no title.  Hence there is scant evidence from the notation in his collections that Machuat considered his Messe as a Lady Mass, certainly not "the Lady Mass" sung as a memorial to himself.  The more substantial evidence linking La Messe to the liturgy of the Virgin Mary is the fact that all of the chants Machaut used were associated with the Lady Mass.

Regarding these chants, Schmelzer writes that Machaut "provided the plainchant of the ordinary for the Lady Mass with a previously-unknown affective polyphonic trope."  There are at least five chant variations for each of the Lady Mass sections.  Machaut used the most common and assigned it to the tenor, where it would normally be placed, and added his isorhythmic counterpoint around it. There is nothing "previously-unknown" about this procedure.  I have no idea what he means by the qualifier "affective polyphonic trope."  Once again Schmelzer assigns an idea to Machaut wishing to cause some kind of emotional reaction among the audience based on nothing other than the pile of speculation Schmelzer has imagined.

In order to support his contention of how strange the Machaut mass would sound to the singers (and presumably the audience) Schmelzer writes, "Rather than breaking the tradition, he cracked it, offering his colleague-singers a musical diagram (the word Schmelzer uses instead of notation) in the way a 'trickster' might do - radically transforming what they were used to singing according to the tradition and to their skills."

Well, I 've check all of my books, including three on Machaut, and two on Medieval performance and notation which all have sections on the Machaut mass, most which address the chants used and Machaut's treatment and nowhere did I find anything alluding to Machaut breaking with tradition.  To the contrary they all stated that Machaut's mass was entirely traditional and in fact copied ideas from previous mass settings.

My conclusion is that Schmelzer is as nutty as a fruitcake.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Ken B on December 26, 2016, 07:31:58 PM
What are they trying to do? 

While those recordings have provided a rewarding listening experience (I have currently decided that I like Peres, the jury is still out on Schmelzer), I have always been struck by the stylistic oddity of their singing of this music.
Oh thank god. I am listening to Schmelzer right now. It strikes me as lunatic. I am not a musician, much less a musicologist, but this sounds completely alien to everything I have heard of the period. Well, and to life on earth as well. And 73 minutes??
Stockhausen does Arte Nova is my reaction. I expect a unison "Barbershop" anytime now.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 26, 2016, 10:57:21 PM


In order to support his contention of how strange the Machaut mass would sound to the singers (and presumably the audience) Schmelzer writes, "Rather than breaking the tradition, he cracked it, offering his colleague-singers a musical diagram (the word Schmelzer uses instead of notation) in the way a 'trickster' might do - radically transforming what they were used to singing according to the tradition and to their skills."



This was the part that I couldn't understand. The key idea he uses  here is fabulation.


One other thing I didn't understand is why, given that he thinks the mass is such a radical break with the past, he uses the same Corsican singing style for the motet.

(By the way I don't have access to the recording any more because I've stopped subscribing to qobuz. So I can't relisten to it. )


It is probably safe to say that you and I are looking for different attributes for our preferred performances of this work.

I have no idea what I'm looking for! I change my mind with the wind.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JCBuckley on December 27, 2016, 11:22:24 AM
Schmelzer writes: 'Finally, we can return the Messe de Notre Dame into its pre-modern(ist) or post-postmodern state, making its hybridity emerge again through diagrammatic, operative performance.'

Can anyone here enlighten me as to what he might mean by 'hybridity' in this context? And by 'diagrammatic'? The idea of 'the diagram' seems to be central to his performance practice, but I'm struggling to grasp the point he's making.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 27, 2016, 11:49:32 AM
Schmelzer writes: 'Finally, we can return the Messe de Notre Dame into its pre-modern(ist) or post-postmodern state, making its hybridity emerge again through diagrammatic, operative performance.'

Can anyone here enlighten me as to what he might mean by 'hybridity' in this context? And by 'diagrammatic'? The idea of 'the diagram' seems to be central to his performance practice, but I'm struggling to grasp the point he's making.

As best as I can tell, when Schmelzer refers to the "diagram" I think he is referring to the notated score in the Machaut collections.  As far as the rest that Schmelzer alleges about the mass, I think he is constructing a narrative built on little real evidence in order to take liberties with the music.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JCBuckley on December 27, 2016, 12:29:06 PM
As best as I can tell, when Schmelzer refers to the "diagram" I think he is referring to the notated score in the Machaut collections.  As far as the rest that Schmelzer alleges about the mass, I think he is constructing a narrative built on little real evidence in order to take liberties with the music.

I did wonder if 'diagram' might just be a slightly obscurantist synonym for the notated score - but Schmelzer seems to be suggesting that 'diagrammatic, operative performance' is something different from conventional performance practice. Wouldn't all performances, however conventional, be based on the notated score?
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 27, 2016, 12:45:29 PM
I did wonder if 'diagram' might just be a slightly obscurantist synonym for the notated score - but Schmelzer seems to be suggesting that 'diagrammatic, operative performance' is something different from conventional performance practice. Wouldn't all performances, however conventional, be based on the notated score?

Yes.  That is all we have.  The rest of his speculation is just that, speculation based on little other than his own reading into some assumptions that are not supported by the historical evidence that is available.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 27, 2016, 01:15:41 PM
If I remember correctly he uses the word diagram to emphasise the way Machaut's  score underdetermines what  a performance will sound like, that he expected the performers to respond imaginatively by adding ornamentation, modulating to make the cross references expressive etc. The term diagram has a precedent I think. I can't check this because I don't have access to the booklet any more.

Most, possibly all, scores underdetermine performance to some extent, it's a matter of degree, and a matter of how much the openness was closed off by conventions and performance traditions, rather than left to the individual performers. I don't think anyone's saying that the Machaut mass is as diagrammatic, open, as an unmeasured prelude by D'Anglebert or a graphic score by Cage.

Don't forget that Machaut was the first to leave a mass intending that it would be performed after he was no longer around, no longer able to intervene. He didn't, as far as I know, go out of his way to close off the possibilities for creative interpretation like French baroque composers did with their annotated ornaments and directions about organ registrations, so we can reasonably assume that he envisaged it. It's part of the concept of the mass.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JCBuckley on December 27, 2016, 01:19:53 PM
Thank you both
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: (: premont :) on December 27, 2016, 02:10:32 PM
A very informative and interesting discussion.
Thank you from me too.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 27, 2016, 02:59:00 PM
If I remember correctly he uses the word diagram to emphasise the way Machaut's  score underdetermines what  a performance will sound like, that he expected the performers to respond imaginatively by adding ornamentation, modulating to make the cross references expressive etc. The term diagram has a precedent I think. I can't check this because I don't have access to the booklet any more.

Machaut's score is no more "underdetermined" than any notation from the middle ages.  We know how to interpret chant notation and other scores from this period from existing treatises.  Schmelzer is being melodramatic, IMO.

Quote
Most, possibly all, scores underdetermine performance to some extent, it's a matter of degree, and a matter of how much the openness was closed off by conventions and performance traditions, rather than left to the individual performers. I don't think anyone's saying that the Machaut mass is as diagrammatic, open, as an unmeasured prelude by D'Anglebert or a graphic score by Cage.

We have quite a bit of information for where and how "musica ficta" would be applied.  Generally these were connecting notes between difficult intervals and sharped or flatted leading tones which would fall outside the mode when the accidental was applied but were necessary to avoid difficult cadences.  Again, Schmelzer is creating a mythology about what is implied from Machaut's notation.

Quote
Don't forget that Machaut was the first to leave a mass intending that it would be performed after he was no longer around, no longer able to intervene. He didn't, as far as I know, go out of his way to close off the possibilities for creative interpretation like French baroque composers did with their annotated ornaments and directions about organ registrations, so we can reasonably assume that he envisaged it. It's part of the concept of the mass.

You are making the same assumption Schmelzer has done, and attributing to Machaut the romantic notion that he was giveing permission to future generations to perform his mass with modern practices.  However, there is no evidence that Machaut had anything remotely like what you describe in mind concerning his mass.

All we have is a transcription from a plaque that does not mention an endowment created by Machaut.  The plaque states in the second section that "On behalf of these men [i.e. Guillaume and Jean Machaut] we, with pious devotion to their memory, have collected for their executors a fund of 300 of the florins called francs, for the purchase of rents for the increase of the revenues for the aforementioned mass and for the sustenance of those present and attending upon it with their skills." 

As should be clear, this money was collected by others (not left by Machaut) for the purpose (stated in the first section) of a "memorial of these men is as according to legal disposition - for the souls of them and of their friends a prayer for the dead shall be recited on the Saturday by the priest who is about to celebrate devoutly that mass at the altar by the Roella which is required to be sung."

"That mass" is the Lady Mass which had been sung at this location in Reims since 1341 (36 years prior to Machaut's death) and prior to when most musicologists date the composition of La Messe.  One can speculate that Machaut's mass might have been "that mass", but there is more reason to believe that the mass that was routinely sung would have been the one performed.

As I said, Schmelzer is creating a mythology based upon the assumption that Machaut left an endowment for the mass to be performed after his death.  He might have in his will, but we don't have his will.  The only surviving documentation refers to money collected by others to fund a memorial for Machaut and his brother for a prayer to be recited prior to the regular Saturday mass which as I said had been performed at the altar near the Roella since 1341.

One can speculate that Machaut may have composed La Messe for ulterior motives since his sacred output is slim and most of his other works were secular court poetry.  But because of the lack of evidence, what Schmelzer reads into what we do have related to Machaut's Messe and his entire enterprise amounts to a castle built on sand.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 27, 2016, 11:40:37 PM
Machaut's score is no more "underdetermined" than any notation from the middle ages.  We know how to interpret chant notation and other scores from this period from existing treatises.

SNIP

We have quite a bit of information for where and how "musica ficta" would be applied. 

SNIP

You are making the same assumption Schmelzer has done, and attributing to Machaut the romantic notion that he was giveing permission to future generations to perform his mass with modern practices. 


I don't think either Schmelzer or Pérès are interested in performing it in a "modern" way. On the contrary,  they want to  make  Machaut sound meaningful and alive. And to do so they've used chant techniques, from a tradition of chant which goes back to the 14th century. I'm not sure, but my guess is that Corsican chanters use imaginative expression. If I remember right, both Pérès or Schmelzer are less optimistic than you about how useful the historical record is on things like how ficta was actually used in the 13th century. Neither much use for telling how the music was sung then (though it may tell us some things about how it was not sung), nor much use for guiding us about how to make the music real now.

It's interesting to focus on why they both chose to use Corsican singers rather than singers skilled in techniques from mainland Fracnce. Maybe the mainland chant tradition had become calcified over time, or maybe it had become "modernised" and imbued with ideas which are just inappropriate for performing Machaut's music.  I don't know.

Anyway, the Corsican singers make the performances  physical, and I think that's a really interesting and exciting approach to doing early music now.

PS As I'm typing this I'm listening to Clemencic play Binchois, or rather music he attributes to Binchois, and it strikes me that he too wants to make performance visceral, physical and expressive.


Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 28, 2016, 05:41:09 AM
I don't think either Schmelzer or Pérès are interested in performing it in a "modern" way. On the contrary,  they want to  make  Machaut sound meaningful and alive. And to do so they've used chant techniques, from a tradition of chant which goes back to the 14th century. I'm not sure, but my guess is that Corsican chanters use imaginative expression. If I remember right, both Pérès or Schmelzer are less optimistic than you about how useful the historical record is on things like how ficta was actually used in the 13th century. Neither much use for telling how the music was sung then (though it may tell us some things about how it was not sung), nor much use for guiding us about how to make the music real now.

You substitute "meaningful", "alive" and "real" for my word "modern" - funny.  I did not see anything in Schmelzer's notes about the use of Corsican singers, and chant techniques going back to the 14th century.  There was plenty in there about Nachleben (fundamental afterlife of repertories) and Pathosformel (organization of affects and animation); euchrony (no definition given). 

He writes,

Quote
"One only has to read any mainstream musicological article on medieval performers' techniques or on the medieival use of notation.  Rarely addressed are the many unwritten aspects of a musical manuscript such as musical ficta, 'unprecise' text placement, or the use of ornamentation.  So the question remains, how do we interpret these unwritten aspects of the repertories: is an absence a deliberate, intentional absence"  Could this absence point to a parallel, implied system of rhetorical and operative tools limiting the musical notation to a diagrammatic writing which has to be put in action, into an affective exegesis during performance?  We do not need any more detailed studies of the ingredients and the pigments, but a general theory that lets them operate together inside the musical performance."

I won't address the fact that we do know plenty about musica ficta and the rest of performance practices he mentions and just focus on this: Schmelzer is looking for a "theory" to replace the oral tradition we have lost.  He has landed on the theory (one endorsed by some scholars, disputed by others) about Machaut's wishes for the mass to be performed after his death.  He doesn't cite Corsian traditions as his license to add in ornamentation that Schmelzer has decided makes the music "real", or "meaningful" or "alive" - to use your words.  It is the so-called endowment left to subsidize the performance of the Messe which is what he bases his attempt at envoking "Nachleben" and "Pathosformel" into this performance.

He also writes:

Quote
"the only humble ... way to 'do' early music is still to say 'one doesn't know how it was done,' ... we must say we are desperately looking for a fantastic ur-performance ... . However, this absence is not a lack of knowledge ... but a system of notation and performance with a conditional openness, ... and the deliberate lack of elements in the notation is exactly the affirmation of this.  In this sense saying today that one 'doesn't know how it was done' is mere nonsense within this system."

He starts out saying the only humble approach is to acknowledge that we don't know how the music was done and then ends by writing that saying "we don't know" is mere nonsense.  Maybe this is where he implies that a Corsican chant tradition is what is known and being added in.  I don't know since he doesn't come out and say that.  But what do Corsican singers have to do with Machaut?

I have sent an email about all this to Elizabeth Eva Leach, someone who is one of a handful of musicologists who specializes on Machaut.  She is on sabbatical but might see the email after the holidays.  I hope to hear her thoughts, since she has worked with Schmelzer on other projects and has written about the history surrounding the Messe and the story of the subsidized performance, etc.

The bottom-line seems to me is if one enjoys Schmelzer's recording it doesn't matter what rationale he used; on the other hand, if one does not enjoy his performance, his rationale for taking liberties with the music looms larger and appears to be nonsense.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 28, 2016, 06:20:34 AM
.  But what do Corsican singers have to do with Machaut?




My guess is that both Pérès and Schmelzer use them for thee reasons:

1.  to create a strange and and archaic ambience

2.  to tap into the creativity of performers whose singing embodies practices which go Machaut's time

3. to use singers who would be creative because they are coming to the music fresh

In Bernard Sherman's book "Inside Early Music" Pérès gives an example of the second point. He says that in the score to the Machaut mass you can see that one note is longer and another is shorter, but you can't say how much longer one note is from another. And that to get to understand it we have to project ourselves into how Machaut and his contemporaries thought about time, which is (he claims)  different from how we think about time in the west today. "Corsican polyphonic singers don't have a tempo with a beat, they just have the time of the chords and when the energy of the chords starts to defuse it changes."


Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on December 28, 2016, 06:40:45 AM
More insight into Schmelzer and Grandelavoix from their website:

Quote
Each new project begins with a concrete musical gesture, a repertoire or a work which envelops the complex layering of time and the operative aspects of practice. Schmelzer has developed with graindelavoix a kind of affective musicology in action: every performance is an evocation and activation of the virtual forces and affects working in the surviving traces that serve as the starting point. A score, a notation or an inscription is an indistinguishable part of a moving musical image that is never independent but functions as a 'dynamogram'. Graindelavoix tries to activate and embody the notation, an active reading in the medieval sense. The past is not a solid reality that we are separated from, instead it is a continuous set of underlays and counter-currents that undulate and live in our bodies: in ever changing times and geographical locations, new eruptions and collisions of time-tectonics occur. These symptoms form the base for the performers of graindelavoix to explore how to push the audience to the point of constructing its own memory of meanings.

My guess is that both Pérès and Schmelzer use them for thee reasons:

1.  to create a strange and and archaic ambience

2.  to tap into the creativity of performers whose singing embodies practices which go Machaut's time

3. to use singers who would be creative because they are coming to the music fresh

In Bernard Sherman's book "Inside Early Music" Pérès gives an example of the second point. He says that in the score to the Machaut mass you can see that one note is longer and another is shorter, but you can't say how much longer one note is from another. And that to get to understand it we have to project ourselves into how Machaut and his contemporaries thought about time, which is (he claims)  different from how we think about time in the west today. "Corsican polyphonic singers don't have a tempo with a beat, they just have the time of the chords and when the energy of the chords starts to defuse it changes."

I would advise caution regarding a reliance upon the Corsican tradition and its relevance to the music of Machaut, "The tradition of Corsican polyphonic singing had nearly become extinct until its revival (riaquistu) in the 1970s. It is now a central part of Corsican national identity, and is sometimes linked with political agitation for autonomy or independence."

These quotes from Peres and Schmelzer sound pretty squishy to me.  My feeling is that they hear this music in a certain way and want to perform this music according to their internal muse and are grasping at some explanation.  I say for them to just sing it as they wish and drop the pretense that they are onto some sort of authentic tradition.

I am listening to Diabolus in Musica's recording of the Messe as I type.  Very good, one of the best, IMO. 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Ken B on December 28, 2016, 08:11:08 AM
Schmelzer's approach seems to be, wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man grenzenlos theorisieren .
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on December 28, 2016, 09:04:50 AM
More insight into Schmelzer and Grandelavoix from their website:

I would advise caution regarding a reliance upon the Corsican tradition and its relevance to the music of Machaut, "The tradition of Corsican polyphonic singing had nearly become extinct until its revival (riaquistu) in the 1970s. It is now a central part of Corsican national identity, and is sometimes linked with political agitation for autonomy or independence."

These quotes from Peres and Schmelzer sound pretty squishy to me.  My feeling is that they hear this music in a certain way and want to perform this music according to their internal muse and are grasping at some explanation.  I say for them to just sing it as they wish and drop the pretense that they are onto some sort of authentic tradition.

I am listening to Diabolus in Musica's recording of the Messe as I type.  Very good, one of the best, IMO.

I wonder if that quote about it nearly becoming extinct is true, anyway there's a lot of leeway in the word "nearly" I have a recording by Pérès of traditional Causican chant, I'll see if I can find the booklet.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 01, 2017, 04:18:33 AM
Machaut and his contemporaries
Musica Nova

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0003/083/MI0003083389.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Listening to this recording I noticed that the first phrase of the mass contained accidentals which sounded unusual to me.  I pulled out my Leech-Wilkinson score and confirmed that Musica Nova raises the triplum's "g" to "g#" and changes entirely the "c" in the motetus to a "b" creating a E Major triad in second "measure" - none of which is indicated in the score.  Leech-Wilkinson goes into some detail explaining the situation concerning accidentals in Medieval music in general and in the Machaut mass in particular: some accidentals are indicated in the manuscript and others are added because of the surrounding polyphony (we assume the singers would also have done so because of their training).  Most performances adhere to a similar plan with only slight variations. 

No one alters the notes as was done by Musica Nova since according to Leech-Wilkinson none of the manuscripts include any accidentals in that section and the polyphony would not demand any alteration.  And to ignore the "c" and replace it with a "b" is very odd.

This information included with Musica Nova's recording offers a vague explanation:

Quote
"The very elaborate construction of the mass and its strange and subtle harmonies win the admiration of all. But do we really know what its true sound was? Though we cannot be quite sure, our research into the 14th-century theory of musica ficta, led by specialist Gérard Geay, has allowed us to come close, opening up an unheard sound world. In order to perform this music the singers worked from various 14th-century manuscript sources. They used the reading techniques of that era in an attempt to stay as close as possible to the phrasing and vocal movement that Machaut would have had in mind. "

I now want to seek out the rationale from Gérard Geay, whose name has come up in my previous reading.  Hopefully I can put my hands on his article, and that it is in English.  There appear to be other divergences from the norm throughout their performance.



The other issue I have been investigating is comparing how various recordings handle the repeats.  According to tradition and liturgical practice:

Kyrie I would have been repeated three times;
Kyrie II, twice;
Kyrie III once. 

So far, I have not found anyone who does that sequence.  Some repeat Kyrie I twice, and the rest just once; some include no repeats.  Some sing the chant prior to the start of the polyphony, some insert the chant between the first two repeated Kyrie.  As for Musica Nova, they insert an organ obligato between the Kyrie sections.

I haven't checked the two recordings yet that attempt to simulate a liturgical performance (Parrott and Peres) and they might include all three repeats.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 01, 2017, 05:20:47 AM
Machaut : Messe de Nostre Dame
Rebecca Stewart, Schola Machaut

(https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ALpF4B52OkI/V6dtHKrN6kI/AAAAAAAABGI/28fOBNlwavk_BYk0SlqzH7pVuK65IF9OACLcB/s1600/maxresdefault.jpg)

My second listen to this live recording.  It would be very good if Stewart and her group could get this performance recorded under proper conditions.  Once one gets used to the sinewy/bellows inflected style of singing the music comes across in a spiritual and expressive manner.  Pace might be a little lax.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 08, 2017, 02:58:52 AM
Apropos the discussion of instruments use in church music during the Middle Ages -

machaut : la messe de nostre dame
rene clemencic | clemencic consort

(http://i62.servimg.com/u/f62/12/92/42/38/6port449.jpg)

From what I gather from listening to the recording, since I can't read the Japanese notes, Clemencic is trying to present the work within a realistic context of the day of the mass:


An unusual but interesting method of presenting the mass - but I would vastly have preferred that the instrumental playing between the sung mass sections have been organ-only and not included peasant dance music which is completely against what would have occurred in the 14th century.  It is an odd thing, since Clemencic seems to be aiming at a realistic impression of what would have happened during the period.

The actual performance of the mass is fairly straight forward and very well done.  But because of the many interruptions this performance of the mass is seriously compromised, imo.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 08, 2017, 02:59:44 AM
^^^^^^^For a casual early music listener, would that recording still be worth getting? Or is it rather more suited to those with a lot more knowledge of musical performances in the era.........

It's quite medieval sounding.

It's a sort of medievalism maybe, you know, let's make the old music sound exotic and colourful, a similar idea in Peres and Schmelzer but implemented differently. Anyway I think the book to read on this is by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, but it's too expensive for me.

I find this general pattern really interesting. Orientalism and Medievalism, interpreting otherness in time and in space. Someone started a thread here about what you would study if you were to have a year of research. Well, I think this is a good contender.

I have the Leech-Wilkinson book on the mass, but bought it years ago when it wasn't that expensive.  His book is very good for analysis of the music, maybe too technical for a non-musician, but he only gives a short biographic overview and a paragraph or two on the whole endowment/memorial aspect.

BTW, I heard back from Elizabeth Eva Leach; she replied to my email last week.  She basically agreed with me that all the evidence surrounding Machaut's will, endowment, memorial concerning funding the performance of the mass after his death is circumstantial but is not "completely weak" however, she also says this "It might be that Machaut's Messe was the mass, but it might equally well be another (probably plainsong) mass."   She also cites a long paper by Roger Bowers (which I downloaded from JStor).

Bowers uses different logic than Anne Robertson who argues the strongest for the mass as memorial in her book, "Guillaume de Machaut and Reims," but still considers the mass was written for a unique purpose: maybe a memorial or maybe as a gift to the cathedral upon his retirement there.  It is interesting that Robertson uses a translation of the cathedral plaque which takes a few liberties with the Latin in order to strengthen her argument, whereas Bowers is more accurate acknowledging that the word "petitorium" is a legal term and hints at a legal proceeding and as a result of a less than satisfactory resolution at court for the Machaut estate, an endowment was collected by friends . 

This is different from how Robertson translates the word as a "personal petition" by the Machaut brothers, and which implies a much more overt gesture by Machaut about his intentions for performance of the mass. 

So, I think Schmelzer's entire hypothesis is founded on circumstantial evidence for which different conclusions can be drawn.  I would have preferred had he simply said "this is how I wish to perform the music because it brings the music alive to 21st century ears" and not gone into his psuedo-intellectual explanation about the afterlife of the work.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 08, 2017, 03:02:45 AM
I had been looking forward to hearing the performance of the Machaut mass included on this disk of Bohemian Christmas music:

(https://www.earlymusicny.org/images/scans/rec-boxmas-lg.jpg)

Early Music New York, Frederick Renz, dir.

Frederick Renz has quite an early music resume:  studied harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Holland as a Fulbright Scholar. He was keyboard soloist with the legendary New York Pro Musica Antiqua for six seasons and founded the Early Music Foundation when the former organization disbanded in 1974. 

Then there's this: the Early Music New York presents and records music of the 12th through the 18th centuries, including historical dramatic and dance works. Medieval and Renaissance repertoire is performed by a chamber ensemble of voices and instruments without conductor.

The polyphony of the mass is accompanied throughout by trombones.  This practice was prevalent in decades prior to the 1970s and fell out of practice once the historically informed movement matured.  It now sounds strange to my ears, but other than that the singing sounds good despite the overly reverberant acoustic.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 08, 2017, 03:39:17 AM


So, I think Schmelzer's entire hypothesis is founded on circumstantial evidence for which different conclusions can be drawn.  I would have preferred had he simply said "this is how I wish to perform the music because it brings the music alive to 21st century ears"

Pérès too?
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 08, 2017, 03:42:34 AM


It's a sort of medievalism maybe, you know, let's make the old music sound exotic and colourful, a similar idea in Peres and Schmelzer but implemented differently. Anyway I think the book to read on this is by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, but it's too expensive for me.

I find this general pattern really interesting. Orientalism and Medievalism, interpreting otherness in time and in space. Someone started a thread here about what you would study if you were to have a year of research. Well, I think this is a good contender.


I have the Leech-Wilkinson book on the mass, but bought it years ago when it wasn't that expensive.  His book is very good for analysis of the music, maybe too technical for a non-musician, but he only gives a short biographic overview and a paragraph or two on the whole endowment/memorial aspect.

BTW, I heard back from Elizabeth Eva Leach; she replied to my email last week.  She basically agreed with me that all the evidence surrounding Machaut's will, endowment, memorial concerning funding the performance of the mass after his death is circumstantial but is not "completely weak" however, she also says this "It might be that Machaut's Messe was the mass, but it might equally well be another (probably plainsong) mass."   She also cites a long paper by Roger Bowers (which I downloaded from JStor).

Bowers uses different logic than Anne Robertson who argues the strongest for the mass as memorial in her book, "Guillaume de Machaut and Reims," but still considers the mass was written for a unique purpose: maybe a memorial or maybe as a gift to the cathedral upon his retirement there.  It is interesting that Robertson uses a translation of the cathedral plaque which takes a few liberties with the Latin in order to strengthen her argument, whereas Bowers is more accurate acknowledging that the word "petitorium" is a legal term and hints at a legal proceeding and as a result of a less than satisfactory resolution at court for the Machaut estate, an endowment was collected by friends . 

This is different from how Robertson translates the word as a "personal petition" by the Machaut brothers, and which implies a much more overt gesture by Machaut about his intentions for performance of the mass. 

So, I think Schmelzer's entire hypothesis is founded on circumstantial evidence for which different conclusions can be drawn.  I would have preferred had he simply said "this is how I wish to perform the music because it brings the music alive to 21st century ears" and not gone into his psuedo-intellectual explanation about the afterlife of the work.

Thanks for sharing your correspondence with Elizabeth Eva Leach, I've heard of Roger Bowers, somehow I have it in my head that he set some policies for EMI, effectively rejecting Clemencic's approach to instruments. I could be confusing him with someone else though.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 08, 2017, 04:30:18 AM
Pérès too?

Pérès does not hypothesize anything about the endowment/memorial, in fact, he almost alludes to a different reason for the mass's composition: "Thus, in  a last act of humanity in the twilight of his life, the canon of the cathedral of Reims [i.e. Machaut], for whom all creation was impossible without love, would have wished to render a final tribute to faith by composing two masterpieces [La Voir Dit and La Messe], the one devoted to the love of a woman, the other to the mother of God, the 'Grande Dame' who causes us to be reborn in heaven."

Lawrence Earp in his mandatory Machaut resource, "Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research," although he doesn’t come out and say it, he supports this rationale for the mass's composition since it was also composed during the same period as the three late motets: as a prayer of devotion and gratitude to the Lady Mary for the survival of Reims against the siege that had occurred during 1359-1360.  He cites the composition of the three motets Christi I Veni (M21), Tu qui gregem I Flange (M22), and Felix virgo I Inviolata (M23) all exhibit a similar style and were probably written at the same time (1358-1360):

Quote
"When the conditions of the Second Treaty of London were rejected by the French in May 1359, it was clear that King John would remain a captive and that the war would be resumed.  The dauphin Charles wrote to the city officials of Reims on July 1359 warning them that the English would attack.  After much delay the English reached the newly completed city walls in mid-November or early December.  The ramparts proved impenetrable, and the siege was lifted around 11 January 1360.  Felix virgo I Inviolata (M23), a prayer to the Virgin for peace, is less clearly topical, although it can be associated with M21-22 on stylistic grounds."

As can the mass. 

All very interesting and even more information which calls into question Schlmezer’s reliance on the idea of Machaut’s intention that the work would have an afterlife other than as a continuing devotional prayer to the Virgin as well as something to help his soul's passage through the afterlife, via the short memorial prayer for the dead the endowment refers to.

Pérès gives more weight to his use of Syriac and Byzantine chant singers whose singing traditions of adding ornaments to the music might offer insights into interpreting the notation, which Pérès refers to like this, "What is noted down on the page is not the end result but the point of departure of this process of knowledge [an understanding of musical grammar in what was called the art of modulation: 'the ostentation of the mode, meaning, in a broad sense, of the measure.'] which assumes substance by means of a direct relationship with the sound."
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 08, 2017, 07:58:50 AM
Dominique Vellard did a great thing by allowing this video of his group's performance of La Messe de Mostre Dame to be made available on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/v/11A4wqv8_wo

As a live performance the singers do a masterful job with the singing - which is not easy - and the performance incorporates the appropriate plainchant surrounding the mass sections.  It hardly gets better than this.

This is really the only legitimate manner of presenting this work.  Machaut certainly never imagined the work to be performed in a concert setting or recording of just the six polyphonic movements, successively sung without break.  Not only does that destroy the context of the work but it undermines the effectiveness of the music leading to a sense of monotony which is not felt if the plainchant is inserted as Machaut fully expected.  This music was written for liturgical use not as a performance piece.

However, there are also recordings which insert inappropriate material which also destroy the context for the mass.  Both practices should be avoided, imo.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 09, 2017, 05:50:42 AM
One thing I find really annoying is that Kandel doesn't say anything, at least as far as I know, about why he used women for the triplum in Machaut's mass, given that the performance seems to want to use the latest ideas about  It would be interesting to know what Gérard Geay has to say about it. At least Peter Philips is open about this - he just does what he likes!

They must have used women to sing the mass in convents!

Yes, Hildegard von Bingen had her female choir in the 12th century.  I looked for something from Gérard Geay, in the booklet and elsewhere, and couldn't find anything.  I was looking mainly because they sang a g# in the KYRIE I's first phrase that is not notated in the Leech-Wilkinson score and I wanted to find out where they got that idea.  I think Schmelzer also sings a g# here, so it might appear in one of the manuscript sources.  I asked E. E. Leach but haven't' heard back, and am on the verge of trying to contact Leech-Wilkinson or even Kandel himself.

I am unsure about motets but for secular songs women were used, in fact, there were female troubadours, I believe.  It was just in church where there was an overt non-use.


Yes, Hildegard von Bingen had her female choir in the 12th century.  I looked for something from Gérard Geay, in the booklet and elsewhere, and couldn't find anything.  I was looking mainly because they sang a g# in the KYRIE I's first phrase that is not notated in the Leech-Wilkinson score and I wanted to find out where they got that idea.  I think Schmelzer also sings a g# here, so it might appear in one of the manuscript sources.  I asked E. E. Leach but haven't' heard back, and am on the verge of trying to contact Leech-Wilkinson or even Kandel himself.

I am unsure about motets but for secular songs women were used, in fact, there were female troubadours, I believe.  It was just in church where there was an overt non-use.

Not necessarily. The performers may have sharpened the notes according to the rules of musica ficta.

Maybe; but they would be in the minority of other scholars, e.g. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson who has done the most current research and published the standard performance score has a g natural in the same place, which most groups observe.  It was quite surprising to hear it.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 09, 2017, 05:52:51 AM
As far as I understand, the music of the French school's masses first and foremost served the purpose to decorate and embellish the words, and not to express them in the way we percieve the word "express" since the romantic age. Just like the decorated capitals in manuscripts from that time. This is my main objection to Schmelzer's interpretation, which is anything but beautiful and instead expressive in a kind of romantic sense. And his claimed intention of making Machaut's mass sound "new" to us is IMO besides the point. Think of all the great music which sounded new to the first listeners. Should we distort our interpretations of this to make it sound new to us again? What about the Choral symphony or Le Sacre du Printemps? I think Schmelzer has taken his arguments out of the air, with the purpose of creating a sensation. With all the existing fine recordings of Machaut's mass it is of course difficult to make a new, which creates sensation by informed arguments.

I have mixed feelings about Schmelzer's recording: on the one hand it is overall a beautiful sounding performance; on the other hand it is as you say, an aberration of the performance practice of this work; and his pretentious essay does not help his case, imo.

I suppose you think of the G sharp in bar two of the Kyrie.

The edition by Lucy Cross (Ed. Peters 1998) which is intended as a score for practical performance, has a lot of "adaptions", In this edition the note is G sharp (sharped Causa Pulchritudinis). The rules of musica ficta were of course meant to be used in performance, which she explains in a chapter dealing with musica ficta.

I have not seen her score, but will seek it out.  The g# may "solve" one problem (although I find the E minor tonality to be pleasing) but creates a different one with the c in the motetus creating a E augmented vertical sound.  I would like to understand why she chose to sharp the g whereas Leech-Wilkinson and others did not.  Also the tenor, which carries the chant, has a g natural which should not be changed.  g against g# seems very odd.

Granted during Machaut's time they were thinking linearly and not vertically, in fact tolerating "illegal" contrapuntal movement between internal voices as long as the counterpoint was pure in relation to the bottom voice at the time.  Still I wonder if that augmented chord might have been extraordinary for them.

In the bar in question she has also sharpened the g in the tenor and the c in the motetus, I suppose because of the rising steps in all three parts.

I found a review of the Cross score here:

Reviewed Work: Messe de Nostre Dame [For] Mixed Voices by Guillaume de Machaut, Lucy E. Cross
Review by: Virginia Newes
Notes
Second Series, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Mar., 2001), pp. 717-721
Published by: Music Library Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/900841

The conclusion of the reviewer is that this score should not be recommended because of the liberal application of sharps (which are all put inside the score instead of above as is usually done with editorial decisions).

I will keep looking for other opinions of this score.

Interesting, thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 09, 2017, 06:51:16 AM
When I was going through information about Lucy Cross's score of the Machaut mass I came across the sad news that she died in June 2016.  Her dissertation concerning application of accidentals in medieval polyphonic works has been cited in several books and papers but I have not seen how they have reacted to her theories.  I've downloaded a few and will read them soon.

It is a source of much debate among musicologists and of great interest to me.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 09, 2017, 07:39:41 AM
As far as I understand, the music of the French school's masses first and foremost served the purpose to decorate and embellish the words, and not to express them in the way we percieve the word "express" since the romantic age.

You may be right. There does seem to be some sort of expression (as opposed to decoration)  in the music , for "Et in terra pax" and "ex Maria Virgine" for example. Lucien Kandel makes this point, if I remember right.

And yes, res severa verum gaudium indeed  :)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 09, 2017, 04:44:25 PM
A recording of the mass which is new to me.  It is a live performance of a quartet

Machaut - Messe de Nostre Dame
A Capella Holmiensis
SGB - Sångensemble Gycklare Blå SGB 0004

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/193/MI0001193142.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Kyrie
Gloria
Credo
Sanctus
Agnus Dei
Ite missa est
Playing time: 25' 53"

A Capella Holmiensis [formerly knoww as Sångensemble Gycklare Blå]
Anneli Albertsson, Charlotte Almbrand, Pelle Appelberg, Henrik Ubbe

Gustaf Vasa Church, Stockholm, Sweden [2003]

Aside from the obvious problems, imo, of having women singing, and some ontonation drift - this is actually a pretty good performance.  The mass is very taxing for the singers and this live concert is impressive since they perform the mass non-stop.  Of course, that kind of  thing is contrary to how Machaut expected the mass to be interrupted with chanted portions of the mass - breaks which would give the singers needed rests - but also this kind of performance tends to take away and not enhance the effect of the music.

Still, an interesting addition to my growing collection of recordings.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 09, 2017, 10:52:39 PM
A recording of the mass which is new to me.  It is a live performance of a quartet

Machaut - Messe de Nostre Dame
A Capella Holmiensis
SGB - Sångensemble Gycklare Blå SGB 0004

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/193/MI0001193142.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Kyrie
Gloria
Credo
Sanctus
Agnus Dei
Ite missa est
Playing time: 25' 53"

A Capella Holmiensis [formerly knoww as Sångensemble Gycklare Blå]
Anneli Albertsson, Charlotte Almbrand, Pelle Appelberg, Henrik Ubbe

Gustaf Vasa Church, Stockholm, Sweden [2003]

Aside from the obvious problems, imo, of having women singing, and some ontonation drift - this is actually a pretty good performance.  The mass is very taxing for the singers and this live concert is impressive since they perform the mass non-stop.  Of course, that kind of  thing is contrary to how Machaut expected the mass to be interrupted with chanted portions of the mass - breaks which would give the singers needed rests - but also this kind of performance tends to take away and not enhance the effect of the music.

Still, an interesting addition to my growing collection of recordings.

I like this a lot, partly because it's somehow very small scale, intimate. They draw me in to the music. Good find!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 10, 2017, 06:17:17 AM
I like this a lot, partly because it's somehow very small scale, intimate. They draw me in to the music. Good find!

I have begun to come up with criteria for what I want in a performance of this work: small male group; ficta according to Wilkinson; pitched according to Parrott;  interpolated chant so that the repeats are taken and other sections separated by mass proper chants. 

For example the Kyrie would look like this, and has been done this way (polyphonic sections are in ALLCAPS):

KYRIE I
Chant
KYRIE I
Christie Chant
CHRISTIE
Christie chant
KYRIE II
Chant
KYRIE III

This would create a timing of about 50 minutes for the mass and give the polyphony singers needed rests and also create more variety in the texture for the audience.

Some separate the sections with organ, but what they use (as does Kandel) are organ insertions from about 100 years after Machaut's mass.  I don't think we have any contemporaneous organ music from his time in manuscript.  I could be wrong, but this is what I've read.  Also inserting organ creates an episodic effect for the mass which when chant is used it sounds more seamless and pleasing.

I have yet to hear a recording that is better than Taverner Consort/Andrew Parrott from 1983, which, btw, will be reissued in a week on a new CD transfer.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 10, 2017, 07:38:33 AM
Two of the organ pieces which Kandel uses are from the Robertsbridge Codex aren't they, which is mid 14th century? The Adesto and Tribum
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 10, 2017, 07:48:29 AM
Two of the organ pieces which Kandel uses are from the Robertsbridge Codex aren't they, which is mid 14th century? The Adesto and Tribum

Those are included on the disc, but not the ones I was referring to.  I was was talking about the ones inserted between the mass movements, which are not identified as I recall.  A reviewer commented that they were from 100 years later.  But as I said, I cannot be sure exactly what they are since they are not labeled.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 10, 2017, 08:38:32 AM
I think most of what Musica Nova/Kandel performs of Machaut is very good, e.g. I enjoy these quite a bit:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0002/879/MI0002879524.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0003/184/MI0003184695.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Which is why their recording of the mass is frustratingly disappointing. 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 11, 2017, 06:22:36 AM
I am awaiting delivery from Presto Classical of this recording of the mass:

MACHAUT Messe de Nostre Dame. Felix Virgo/Inviolata • Mary Berry, dir; Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge • HERALD 312

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0002/969/MI0002969236.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Information from Fanfare review of 2004 (I've bolded the aspects which make this recording worth having, imo):

Mary Berry (whose death at the age of 90 occurred during the preparation of this review) recorded her program at Reims cathedral in 2004, a tactic previously adopted by John McCarthy. Berry has made her reputation in chant study and performance, but she gives a notably effective interpretation of the Mass, sung from Daniel Leech-Wilkinson’s edition of 1990. The liturgical reconstruction includes a very appropriate motet at the offertory, composed during the siege of Reims and addressed to the Blessed Virgin. The Mass Propers are taken from contemporary Reims manuscripts for the feast of the Assumption, a reasonable selection, and include the sequence (prosa) Area virga, previously unrecorded. All the cantillations for a celebration of Mass are included. The tactus of the polyphony matches the (slow) singing of the Kyrie invocations and the other chants, conferring a unity on the entire Mass that has not been heard in previous interpretations.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 11, 2017, 06:50:01 AM
I ordered it too, so it's a race. The thing that caught my attention was this comment "the tactus of the polyphony matches the (slow) singing of the Kyrie invocations and the other chants, conferring a unity on the entire Mass that has not been heard in previous interpretations." That's one of the things I remember enjoying about Rebecca Stewart.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 11, 2017, 07:55:36 AM
I ordered it too, so it's a race. The thing that caught my attention was this comment "the tactus of the polyphony matches the (slow) singing of the Kyrie invocations and the other chants, conferring a unity on the entire Mass that has not been heard in previous interpretations." That's one of the things I remember enjoying about Rebecca Stewart.

I wonder if Stewart had heard this recording, since her live concert was done in 2005. 

I didn't post it but J. F. Weber, the Fanfare reviewer, continued to describe Mary Berry's paper from 1968:  The Performance of Plainsong in the Later Middle Ages and the 16th Century.  "She showed convincingly that following the writings of Jerome of Moray in the 14th century, chant became florid, the “flowers” being notes added to the beginning and end of each phrase. She also showed that the more solemn the feast, the slower was the chant."

So, it will be an interesting performance to hear, for sure.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 11, 2017, 08:23:50 AM
Two of the organ pieces which Kandel uses are from the Robertsbridge Codex aren't they, which is mid 14th century? The Adesto and Tribum

I finally tracked down the information about the dating of the organ insertions during the Kyrie sections.  It was in the review in Fanfare:

We have to go back to a remarkable (now forgotten) version by Grayston Burgess on L’Oiseau-Lyre to hear the polyphony alternating with intabulations from the Codex Faenza [late 15th century], as we hear on the new disc; unfortunately, there is no excuse for playing these during the Mass. While Burgess used a small chorus rather than a vocal ensemble, he used no instruments, and he came up with period pronunciation for the first time in this work. Summerly’s performance of nine polyphonic Kyries follows the recommendation of Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, whose edition (and consultation) he used, but it should be noted that the editor also urged the use of chant Propers in a liturgical reconstruction.

He doesn't end on a bad note, though.  And listening this morrning the last track, which is the lament by F. Andrieu, "Armes, Amours - O flour des flours" (one of the most beautiful works of the 14th centtury), I agree that the tempo works overall.

The most distinctive aspect of Lucien Kandel’s interpretation is the tempo. In every movement this is the slowest performance I checked, and the total time is just over 40 minutes. Since such otherwise fine versions as Safford Cape’s and Dominique Vellard’s have been characterized as slow (they ran more than 10 minutes faster than this one), it is hard to call this an effective performance. Yet the rhythm is so solid that the slow tempos do not drag. The Andrieu lament ranks with the recent one by Liber unUsualis (27:5), both versions complete with three strophes.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 11, 2017, 09:42:39 AM
(http://www.orlandoconsort.com/images/scatteredrhymes.jpg)

I think this is one voice in a part, all men, two higher and two lower voices. No instruments. If I'm right than it's as authentic as Parrott and Clemencic or anyone in the ordinaries. And my feeling is that the singing is expressive, with lots of colour and shading and a good tempo and an articulation which declaims the mass text quite meaningfully. They're good with the words, the poetry.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 11, 2017, 09:59:19 AM
(http://www.orlandoconsort.com/images/scatteredrhymes.jpg)

I think this is one voice in a part, all men, two higher and two lower voices. No instruments. If I'm right than it's as authentic as Parrott and Clemencic or anyone in the ordinaries. And my feeling is that the singing is expressive, with lots of colour and shading and a good tempo and an articulation which declaims the mass text quite meaningfully. They're good with the words, the poetry.

Weren't you complaining about Oxbridge groups?   ;)

Orlando Consort is an all male group but use a counter-tenor, i.e. don't pitch down a fourth as does Parrott.  Also, if memory serves, they sing the polyphonic movements back to back without any chant.  But other than that, their recordings are first rate, although I prefer their three releases devoted to Machaut songs on Hyperion.

But the really interesting thing about that record is the coupling with the modern work.  I am of mixed reaction to it.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 12, 2017, 09:51:35 AM
I have just published my review of the Schmelzer recording of the Messe.

Taking Liberties : Björn Schmelzer & Machaut’s “Messe de Nostre Dame” (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/taking-liberties-bjorn-schmelzer-machauts-messe-de-nostre-dame/)

Some history included and something to jump start my critical discography.

 :)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JCBuckley on January 12, 2017, 10:11:59 AM
An excellent review - thank you. Having listened to this recording a few times, my thoughts are much like yours - I'm unconvinced by many of Schmelzer's ideas (where I can make them out amid the verbiage), and certainly wouldn't pick this as my first-choice performance of the music, but I find it tremendously powerful (if not always beautiful) and would not want to be without it.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 12, 2017, 11:46:04 AM
I have just published my review of the Schmelzer recording of the Messe.

Taking Liberties : Björn Schmelzer & Machaut’s “Messe de Nostre Dame” (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/taking-liberties-bjorn-schmelzer-machauts-messe-de-nostre-dame/)

Some history included and something to jump start my critical discography.

 :)


Thanks for this, I hope to be able to give it some more time later but one thing that struick me straight away is that Schmelzer has explicitly denied your idea that he has taken the mass in an entirely new direction. He thinks that his  "performance is in line with the crucial shift that Marcel Pérès introduced two decades ago with his performance of Machaut’s work, giving early music the moral task of the fabulation of history, a fabulation that includes the hybridity of past practices, a fabulation that is part of the performance and, as we endeavour to show, of the works themselves before the “modern” segmentations, works that consist of a diagrammatic writing, but demand an actual performance to be truly complete."

I think this is interesting, I think it makes sense, although  I don't feel totally confident I understand the concept of fabulation. We stared to discuss it a bit in this thread when we talked about the underdetermination of the score.

I'm about to make another post in response to something that Premont said which bears on these questions I think .
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 12, 2017, 11:50:58 AM
As far as I understand, the music of the French school's masses first and foremost served the purpose to decorate and embellish the words, and not to express them in the way we percieve the word "express" since the romantic age. Just like the decorated capitals in manuscripts from that time. This is my main objection to Schmelzer's interpretation, which is anything but beautiful and instead expressive in a kind of romantic sense. And his claimed intention of making Machaut's mass sound "new" to us is IMO besides the point. Think of all the great music which sounded new to the first listeners. Should we distort our interpretations of this to make it sound new to us again? What about the Choral symphony or Le Sacre du Printemps? I think Schmelzer has taken his arguments out of the air, with the purpose of creating a sensation. With all the existing fine recordings of Machaut's mass it is of course difficult to make a new, which creates sensation by informed arguments.

One of the ideas which really seems to have influenced Schmelzer is this one, which he found in a paper by Karl Geiringer

Quote
One is easily inclined to deny a deeper emotional content to pieces, of which the mind’s work emerges so clearly. This could be the reason that medieval pieces,moulded in rigid musical forms, are still completely foreign to us. Understanding music of the eighteenth century is no longer obstructed by this prejudice, thanks to the efforts of entire generations to empathize with the artistic works of that time. Conversely, we acknowledge a greater importance of emotional content [seelischer Gehalt] in the fugues of Bach and Handel than to the outer form. However in the music from medieval times we are still very far away from such an empathy [Einfühlung]; indeed, we have hardly begun to look for emotional content in pieces that are contrapuntally complex. But the question still presents itself: if affective immersion in the spirit of these compositions could manage – also in these works which at first seem to us like pure calculation examples – to reveal a deeper emotional content, should it not be possible in our age, which is internally so near to Gothic art, to empathize with the music of the medieval world, just as the nineteenth century succeeded emotionally to conquer the works of Bach and Handel? In fact,it is possible to bridge this gap between history and modern emotion: in two recent performances of Dufay’s Gloria for a public both completely untrained in music history and without the slightest idea of the mastery of the contrapuntal work of this piece, the music made a deep impression, showing its indestructible vital force.


How is he going to " bridge this gap between history and modern emotion?" The clue is in this really interesting point which Schmelzer makes about musica ficta, ornamentation etc. After pointing out that the text underdetrmines performance, and that is a deliberate aspect of the notation because Machaut would have expected his singers to have knowledge about contemporary practices, knowledge which is now lost, he then says


Quote
However,this absence is not a lack of knowledge – and only available to those present at the time of the ur-performance – but a system of notation and performance with a conditional openness, giving credit to each performance, and the deliberate lack of elements in the notation is exactly the affirmation of this. In this sense, saying today that one “doesn’t know how it was done” is mere nonsense within this system.

The key idea here is conditional openness.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 12, 2017, 12:10:32 PM

Thanks for this, I hope to be able to give it some more time later but one thing that struick me straight away is that Schmelzer has explicitly denied your idea that he has taken the mass in an entirely new direction. He thinks that his  "performance is in line with the crucial shift that Marcel Pérès introduced two decades ago with his performance of Machaut’s work, giving early music the moral task of the fabulation of history, a fabulation that includes the hybridity of past practices, a fabulation that is part of the performance and, as we endeavour to show, of the works themselves before the “modern” segmentations, works that consist of a diagrammatic writing, but demand an actual performance to be truly complete."

I think this is interesting, I think it makes sense, although  I don't feel totally confident I understand the concept of fabulation. We stared to discuss it a bit in this thread when we talked about the underdetermination of the score.

I'm about to make another post in response to something that Premont said which bears on these questions I think .

I acknowledge in the review that his version is unlike any other with the possible exception of Marcel Peres.  But, evenso, I think Schmelzer's version is very different from Peres.  My review is not negative, imo.

The reviewer in Gramophone made a remark which I think is interesting and one with which I agree:  "his tendency to pitch his arguments from a conceptual high-ground that is notably short on details, thus antagonising ‘specialists’ but also (more importantly, and as I suspect) frustrating the well-intentioned layman."

But Schmelzer himself argues that his version is so new as to cause the music to sound strange to us.  That is his desire.  Some people do question just how new his version is, though, and the same reviewer says, "To be clear: little of this is new, and Schmelzer’s suggestions to the contrary account for at least some of his critics’ resistance."

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 12, 2017, 12:18:47 PM
  My review is not negative, imo.


Absolutely. If I were to review it I'd be more negative than you because I think he fails in his objective to be expressive.

The reviewer in Gramophone made a remark which I think is interesting and one with which I agree:  "his tendency to pitch his arguments from a conceptual high-ground that is notably short on details,


I wonder what details are missing exactly? The booklet essay seems closely argued for a booklet essay, and he provides references etc for those who which to pursue things further. I think the essay is commendable, the area is difficult though.



Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 12, 2017, 12:18:49 PM
Of course the idea of musical ficta is not new at all.  The subject is probably the most discussed issue in all of the scholarly literature for the period.  One of the things that bothers me, and I daresay others who know something about the subject, is he seems to imply that he is finding something new in his application of ficta.  Other than what seems to be his desire to never miss an opporrttuity to alter a note under the rubric of ficta as opposed to picking and choosing, there's nothing new there.

More to the point, his real intrusion into Machaut's music, imo, was his decision to give his singers seemingly free rein to add melismatic ornamentation at phrase endings, etc.  How 21st century Corsican singers are supposed to know what 14th century French clerics would sing is beyond me.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 12, 2017, 12:20:49 PM
.  How 21st century Corsican singers are supposed to know what 14th century French clerics would sing is beyond me.

 ;)

This is absolutely NOT what he's saying (and not Pérès neither)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 12, 2017, 12:22:41 PM
Absolutely. If I were to review it I'd be more negative than you because I think he fails in his objective to be expressive.

I wonder what details are missing exactly? The booklet essay seems closely argued for a booklet essay, and he provides references etc for those who which to pursue things further. I think the essay is commendable, the area is difficult though.

Yes, he cites all kinds of things but offers little explanation of what they mean in a concrete sense and how they apply in this context. 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 12, 2017, 12:25:27 PM
This is absolutely NOT what he's saying (and not Pérès neither)

Then why use them?  I have been told he used them because they have a tradition of singing polyphony going back to the 14th century (and he implies as much in his essay).  I actually doubt that statement is true.  But even if it were, their singing tradition may have absolutely nothing to do with the sacred singing of Machaut's place and time.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 12, 2017, 01:34:05 PM
Then why use them?  I have been told he used them because they have a tradition of singing polyphony going back to the 14th century (and he implies as much in his essay).  I actually doubt that statement is true.  But even if it were, their singing tradition may have absolutely nothing to do with the sacred singing of Machaut's place and time.

Who he? Pérès or Schmelzer? As far a I recall both of them use the Corsicans because they're good at performing imaginatively and expressively. But I really should look at Pérès' essays again.

Does  Pérès really say that he thinks that their tradition goes back to C14? Schmelzer doesn't as far as I recall either.

It's certainly true that what they do has nothing to do with how people did ficta, ornaments in Machaut's Riems.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 12, 2017, 01:56:56 PM
Who he? Pérès or Schmelzer? As far a I recall both of them use the Corsicans because they're good at performing imaginatively and expressively. But I really should look at Pérès' essays again.

Does  Pérès really say that he thinks that their tradition goes back to C14? Schmelzer doesn't as far as I recall either.

It's certainly true that what they do has nothing to do with how people did ficta, ornaments in Machaut's Riems.

Not Peres, it was you who said the Corsican tradition went back to the 14th century.  Where did you get that?  I was only talking about Schmelzer, who in his essay alludes to needing singers who have a tradition of knowledge and skills:

"to make them available for later generations, to give them the possibility to revive and continue to activate their contained energy, and in this respect, to preserve the voices of the past. To activate this energy you need people with certain skills."

"Finally, we can return the Messe de Nostre Dame into its premodern(ist) or post-postmodern state, making its hybridity emerge again through diagrammatic, operative performance. We can do this with the help of the collectives and with their knowledge, whose place remained outside history, and whose practices became undercurrents of culture."

Are the Corsican singers with certain skills and a collective with knowledge?  Not clear.  But he is using them for some reason.

In a caption to one of the photograhs he talks about plainchant:

"The plainchant source BM 224, a missal from Reims was kindly delivered for this recording by David Hiley.
The simple written version was elaborated and embellished, based on plainchant sources which we were able to
consult in the collection of Bartosz Izbicki. He was very kind in advising us in this matter and on the execution of
these ornaments by confraternities still in existence in Southern-Europe."

Not sure what confraternities these are.


Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 12, 2017, 10:52:39 PM
Not Peres, it was you who said the Corsican tradition went back to the 14th century.  Where did you get that? 

I don't know, it may be a figment of my imagination, a I just haven't had the time to investigate it, I think it's a red herring for understanding what  Pérès and  Schmelzer are tying to do anyway, since neither are interested in ur-performance.

Schmelzer's phrase "undercurrents of culture" is interesting because somewhere at read that one of them, Pérès or Schmelzer, wanted people skilled in a tradition of singing which was insulated from the mainland. I just don't recall now why, it may have had something to do with "strangeness"

Schmelzer is big on cofraternities, he sung in one in Sardinia, he's got a good CD dedicated to one from Combrai,
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: (: premont :) on January 13, 2017, 03:27:05 AM
Thanks to Sanantonio and Mandryka for this informed and inspiring discussion.

Relistening to Graindelavoix's Machaut Mass to day, I notice, that they adopt several of Lucy Cross' Musica ficta interpretations. Already in bar two of the first Kyrie they sharpen the c in the Motetus and the g in the Triplum and Tenor (cantus firmus) as well.

But I have a number of questions:

Does any reliable material exist about the original Corsican singing style, and is anything known whether it underwent transformations with time f.i. concerning vibrato and dynamic inflection?

Do we know anything about how much individual singers in small church ensembles were supposed (or allowed) to stick out from the other singers in the group? Because my intuition (an uncertain parameter BTW  :)) tells me, that a relative homogenous ensemble was the norm.

Machaut's Mass certainly sounded new to the people who heard it for the first time, but why should it have sounded strange? The listeners probably knew some of Perotin's complexe organum's, which indeed sound stranger, if this word can be used to describe the music at all.

Concerning expressivity: Schmelzer seems to think, that the expression needs to be on a rather extrovert level, if the music shall be made able to talk to us postromantic age listeners. But I think the expression is to be found in the music on a more abstract (introvert) level, and maybe the beauty of sound is the most important element. Others might be the changing harmonies and the phrasing which must emphasize the words. Of course the listener of to day needs adaptation and experience to listen in this way, but it is not beyond the scope of reality.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 13, 2017, 05:59:00 AM
Thanks to Sanantonio and Mandryka for this informed and inspiring discussion.

Relistening to Graindelavoix's Machaut Mass to day, I notice, that they adopt several of Lucy Cross' Musica ficta interpretations. Already in bar two of the first Kyrie they sharpen the c in the Motetus and the g in the Triplum and Tenor (cantus firmus) as well.

I just started reading this article:

Musica Ficta and Harmony in Machaut's Songs
Thomas Brothers
The Journal of Musicology
Vol. 15, No. 4 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 501-528
Published by: University of California Press
DOI: 10.2307/764005
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/764005
Page Count: 28

And I'm about half way through.  The author has made several points so far: 1) ficta was treated differently for open and closed cadences and 2) ficta was added mainly to imperfect consonances (3rd and 6ths) approaching their respective perfect consonances (5th and octaves); 3) there are often two ways to solve the vertical "problem" either by raising one pitch to create a rising leading tone or lowering the other pitch creating a descending leading tone; and 4) in old theoretical writing two terms were put forth: causa necessitatis (necessary) and causa proprenquitastis (possible/optional).  Today there are scholars who lean one way or the other in how they advocate how much ficta to apply to a manuscript.

One of the examples given describes a sixth (starting from the bottom) B/g moving to the octave A/a.  Depending upon whether the cadence was internal (non-final), the lower pitch could be flatted, Bb/g-A/a (mild) or if it were the final cadence it would usually become B/g#-A/a (strong).  It was rare to nonexistent for both pitches to be altered.  (I especially like the Phyrigian sound of using the Bb-A.)

He also made a point to say that in recent work some scholars have attempted to suggest ficta in 14th c. works in order to cause them conform more to our ideas of tonality (something I would be very much against).  But I need to finish the article.

Quote
But I have a number of questions:

Does any reliable material exist about the original Corsican singing style, and is anything known whether it underwent transformations with time f.i. concerning vibrato and dynamic inflection?

I haven't done much research into this beyond reading the Wikipedia article.  There it mentions that the once old tradition became virtually extinct by the 1970s when it was resurrected as part of a general nationalistic movement.  Now, whether the resurrection was based  on sound musical scholarship or politically motivated nationalism, one doesn't know.  After listening to Corsican polyphonic singing from other recordings besides the Machaut, it appears that the repertory is more tradition/secular almost folk music sung in a style which does seem to stress individuality.

Quote
Do we know anything about how much individual singers in small church ensembles were supposed (or allowed) to stick out from the other singers in the group? Because my intuition (an uncertain parameter BTW  :)) tells me, that a relative homogenous ensemble was the norm.

I tend to agree with you that it wold be anathema in sacred music of this period for a singer among the group to "stick out".  The church was very conscious of keeping tabs on the musical role in the service so that it did not become the end in itself instead of a means to enhance the spiritual nature of celebrating the rite.  Drawing attention to a singer or the music would be contrary to the church's disciplined approach.

Quote
Machaut's Mass certainly sounded new to the people who heard it for the first time, but why should it have sounded strange? The listeners probably knew some of Perotin's complexe organum's, which indeed sound stranger, if this word can be used to describe the music at all.

I would question the assertion that the music sounded "new" to the members of Reims cathedral:  Machaut based his mass on chant and other mass sections on music that had been used at Reims for a long time.  While his mass was the first we know of composed by one individual, polyphonic masses were not unusual.

Quote
Concerning expressivity: Schmelzer seems to think, that the expression needs to be on a rather extrovert level, if the music shall be made able to talk to us postromantic age listeners. But I think the expression is to be found in the music on a more abstract (introvert) level, and maybe the beauty of sound is the most important element. Others might be the changing harmonies and the phrasing which must emphasize the words. Of course the listener of to day needs adaptation and experience to listen in this way, but it is not beyond the scope of reality.

I agree with you.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 13, 2017, 10:19:56 AM
Weren't you complaining about Oxbridge groups?   ;)


Yes. I don't like the Oxbridge style at all. I don't like their posh British accents in the Latin (it reminds me of Grace at my college when someone with an Eton accent would intone "laus et imperium in secula seculorum. Amen" after banging a gavel. Lots of bad memories.) I don't like their penchant for unvaried speedy tempos. And above all I don't like their stiff rhythms. Orlando seem slightly less culpable than Parrott, they're not at all my cup of tea.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 13, 2017, 10:35:41 AM
Yes. I don't like the Oxbridge style at all. I don't like their posh British accents in the Latin (it reminds me of Grace at my college when someone with an Eton accent would intone "laus et imperium in secula seculorum. Amen" after banging a gavel. Lots of bad memories.) I don't like their penchant for unvaried speedy tempos. And above all I don't like their stiff rhythms. Orlando seem slightly less culpable than Parrott, they're not at all my cup of tea.

Parrott's tempo is on the quick side, but there are so many other decisions he's made (that are hard to find elsewhere) that make his recording very important, imo.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 13, 2017, 11:05:13 AM
Pierre Hamon and Marc Mauillon, et al, have released three recordings of Machaut music.  I have only begun to scratch the surface but so far what I've heard is first rate.  I think Hamon has been a member of Ensemble Gilles Binchois and Mauillon has recorded with Jordi Savall, so they have early music chops.

These three are well worth checking out:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51RZ4Pbd3FL._SY355_.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/515jdwS27wL._SY355_.jpg)(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51T5yxDJNZL._SX355_.jpg)

These recordings are of the secular songs, including long form lais.  I would be very interested if they decided to switch gears and record the mass one day.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 13, 2017, 11:30:13 AM


Machaut's Mass certainly sounded new to the people who heard it for the first time, but why should it have sounded strange? The listeners probably knew some of Perotin's complexe organum's, which indeed sound stranger, if this word can be used to describe the music at all.



What he actually says is this

Quote
Machaut provided the plainchant of the ordinary for the Lady Mass with a previously-unknown affective polyphonic trope. Rather than breaking the tradition, he cracked it, offering his colleague-singers a musical diagram in the way a “trickster” might do – radically transforming what they were used to singing according to the tradition and to their skills. You can imagine that after the experience of Machaut’s Mass the singers would never be the same again.

What I need to know is whether earlier notated polyphonic mass settings were more explicit about things like ornamentation, ficta, relative duration of notes etc. Why does he say "previously unknown"?

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 13, 2017, 11:38:40 AM
What he actually says is this

Quote
Machaut provided the plainchant of the ordinary for the Lady Mass with a previously-unknown affective polyphonic trope. Rather than breaking the tradition, he cracked it, offering his colleague-singers a musical diagram in the way a “trickster” might do – radically transforming what they were used to singing according to the tradition and to their skills. You can imagine that after the experience of Machaut’s Mass the singers would never be the same again.

What I need to know is whether earlier notated polyphonic music was more explicit about things like ornamentation, ficta, relative duration of notes etc. Why does he say "previously unknown"?

I am mystified by that quote from Schmelzer.  Nothing in all I've read about this work makes a similar claim.  On the contrary most scholars stress that Machaut went out of his way to choose chant and mass propers which had been used in Reims itself or by a community within walking distance.

To answer your other questions:

What I need to know is whether earlier notated polyphonic music was more explicit?

I doubt it.  If anything, Machaut was more meticulous with his manuscripts than the average scribe. 

Why does he say "previously-unknown affective polyphonic trope"?

I have no idea.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 13, 2017, 11:41:21 AM
What I need to know is whether earlier notated polyphonic music was more explicit about things like ornamentation, ficta, relative duration of notes etc. Why does he say "previously unknown"?


I am mystified by that quote from Schmelzer.  Nothing in all I've read about this work makes a similar claim.  On the contrary most scholars stress that Machaut went out of his way to choose chant and mass propers which had been used in Reims itself or by a community within walking distance.

To answer your other questions:

What I need to know is whether earlier notated polyphonic music was more explicit? What was Machaut's innovation (if any)?

I doubt it.  If anything, Machaut was more meticulous with his manuscripts than the average scribe. 

Why does he say "previously-unknown affective polyphonic trope"?

I have no idea.

I think this is what we have to understand, this is a critical point for making sense of it. The "affective polyphonic trope" which was previously unknown has to do with "hybridity" -- which I think means the way  the score (diagram) and singers'  imagination come together  to make a performance.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 13, 2017, 11:57:09 AM
Here's some basic information about musica ficta from Grove:

Quote
Musica ficta [musica falsa]
(Lat.: ‘false, feigned or contrived music’; synonymous with falsa mutatio, coniuncta).

These terms were used by theorists from the late 12th century to the 16th, at first in opposition to musica recta or musica vera, to designate ‘feigned’ extensions of the hexachord system* contained in the so-called Guidonian hand. Most scholars accept that notated polyphony of this period required performers to interpret under-prescriptive notation in accordance with their training (by contrapuntal and melodic criteria about which scholars disagree), ensuring the perfection of consonances, and approaching cadences correctly. These requirements could often be met within the rectasystem, but musica ficta was used ‘where necessary’ – in modern terms only, by ‘adding accidentals’; in medieval terms, by ‘operating musica ficta’.

In modern usage, the term musica ficta is often loosely applied to all unnotated inflections inferred from the context, for editorial or ‘performers'’ accidentals rather than notated ones (whether properly recta or ficta).

[NOTE: Some ficta were notated, but most were not.]

Quote
Editors usually place accidentals that they have supplied, on behalf of performers, above the affected note or in brackets or small type, to distinguish them from those having manuscript authority. (On the placing of editorial accidentals, see especially Anglès, 1954; Hewitt, 1942; Jeppesen, 1927; Lowinsky, 1964 and 1967; J. Caldwell, Editing Early Music, Oxford, 1985.)

[NOTE: That last was what Lucy Cross ignored in her edition by placing her accidentals within the score, so that one could not see at a glance which were notated and which she suggests.]

I think this is what we have to understand, this is a critical point for making sense of it. The "affective polyphonic trope" which was previously unknown has to do with "hybridity" -- which I think means the way  the score (diagram) and singers'  imagination come together  to make a performance.

Sorry, but I think Schmelzer is blowing bubbles in the air.  He probably managed to out-sell (in both meanings) all other recordings of this work, so good on him.

 ;)



* The hexachords of musica recta built on G, c and f (and their upper octaves, g, c′, f′,g′) comprise the ‘white’ notes of the modern diatonic scale from G to e″ with the addition of b♭; each letter name has tagged to it the solmization syllables of its recta hexachords, which define the default interval arrangement of the gamut, the ‘normal’ relationships of syllables to letters. The internal arrangement of each hexachord was identical (tone–tone–semitone–tone–tone, identified by the syllables ut–re–mi–fa–sol–la). These were the hexachords of musica vera or recta and their constituent pitches those of musica vera or recta in the system attributed to Guido of Arezzo (1025–6 or 1028–32).
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 13, 2017, 12:30:06 PM
A better explanation from the article on Solmization:

Quote
Solmization, as well as being constantly used in plainchant, was taken up at least in descriptions of polyphonic music. However, later writers on the latter subject usually took the basic information for granted, probably because solmization belonged with the rudiments, and polyphony with a later stage of learning. The taking over of solmization into polyphonic theory and practice led eventually to the breakdown or modification of the system. The basic reason for this was the necessity in polyphonic music for vertical intervals to be perfect, a principle that leads to the rule that mi may not be sounded against fa on perfect intervals: ‘mi contra fa’ is therefore a polyphonic rule concerned with chords. The need to place a perfect 5th above B♮ or below B♭ leads to the introduction of F♯ and E♭, notes that do not exist in the gamut of Table 2 [not available online]. Since the notes of that gamut constituted the total repertory of notes available (‘quibus tota musica conformatur’; CoussemakerS, i, 254b), other notes had to be ‘imagined’, or ‘feigned’, and were called musica ficta or musica falsa. The practice of solmization, and the presence of new semitones above F♯ and below E♭ in particular, led to the introduction of new hexachords, in this case beginning on D and B♭.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 13, 2017, 01:54:57 PM
Machaut : Messe le Nostre Dame
Vocal Ensemble Cappella | Tetsuro Hanai

(http://www.regulus-classics.com/albums/images/RGCD-1013_thumbnail.jpg)

This Japanese group performs a very good Messe.  Anyone who is familiar with the 2005 concert recording by Rebecca Stewart and Schola Machaut will hear a similarity in pacing and phrasing.

I want to spend some time with it so I can get a handle on the issues we've talked about concerning ficta, etc. but my initial impression is positive - although I think this is one where they sing the polyphonic movements without any intervening plainchant.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 14, 2017, 11:16:24 AM
Dominique Vellard did a great thing by allowing this video of his group's performance of La Messe de Mostre Dame to be made available on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/v/11A4wqv8_wo

As a live performance the singers do a masterful job with the singing - which is not easy - and the performance incorporates the appropriate plainchant surrounding the mass sections.  It hardly gets better than this.

This is really the only legitimate manner of presenting this work.  Machaut certainly never imagined the work to be performed in a concert setting or recording of just the six polyphonic movements, successively sung without break.  Not only does that destroy the context of the work but it undermines the effectiveness of the music leading to a sense of monotony which is not felt if the plainchant is inserted as Machaut fully expected.  This music was written for liturgical use not as a performance piece.

However, there are also recordings which insert inappropriate material which also destroy the context for the mass.  Both practices should be avoided, imo.

I don't find recordings of the six movements as a sequence necessarily monotonous - not Deller or Kandel or even Orlando.

I  think that some liturgical presentations are a bit boring though, when there's a lot of chant. Mary Berry's arrived today by the way: she uses a lot of chant. I don't want to suggest that it's not good, on the contrary, I can already tell that she's got ideas and gets some very effective things from the (Oxbridge accented) singers.

Is anything gained poetically by the inclusion of chant? Stewart makes me think the answer could be yes because of the coherence of the whole, but I think think that has to do with the phrasing and the way she gets the singers to form the notes. I haven't really explored this very much yet.

Berry's performance is cerebral, prayerful. As opposed to the visceral Pérès and Schmelzer. This is maybe an interesting way to classify medieval music in performance: the extent to which you're aware of the physicality of the singers, their throats and their guts.

By the way, Mary Berry doesn't just interleave monophonic music, she puts a polyphonic motet in there too and I like that (Schmelzer does something similar.)

I enjoy Clemencic, as you know, whatever its relation to an ur-performance.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 14, 2017, 11:18:59 AM
Machaut : Messe le Nostre Dame
Vocal Ensemble Cappella | Tetsuro Hanai

(http://www.regulus-classics.com/albums/images/RGCD-1013_thumbnail.jpg)

This Japanese group performs a very good Messe.  Anyone who is familiar with the 2005 concert recording by Rebecca Stewart and Schola Machaut will hear a similarity in pacing and phrasing.

I want to spend some time with it so I can get a handle on the issues we've talked about concerning ficta, etc. but my initial impression is positive - although I think this is one where they sing the polyphonic movements without any intervening plainchant.

I have ordered this recording.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 14, 2017, 03:59:31 PM
I don't find recordings of the six movements as a sequence necessarily monotonous - not Deller or Kandel or even Orlando.

I haven't heard Deller, but Kandel does interpolate chant, the way he does is one of the positive aspects of his recording.  Actually, his recording is very good, I enjoy it much more than Schmelzer.  I just wish he had been more choosy with adding accidentals.  BTW, I read the essay by Gerard Gery (?) in the booklet.  As is often the case, it is long on ideas but short on details.  I plan on doing some research into ficta and late 14th century harmony, as well as do a comparative analysis of the three scores, Schrade ('50s), Leech-Wilkinson (1990) and Cross (2000).  I really would like to get a handle on this aspect since it more than any other can affect how the music sounds.

Quote
I  think that some liturgical presentations are a bit boring though, when there's a lot of chant. Mary Berry's arrived today by the way: she uses a lot of chant. I don't want to suggest that it's not good, on the contrary, I can already tell that she's got ideas and gets some very effective things from the (Oxbridge accented) singers.

Is anything gained poetically by the inclusion of chant? Stewart makes me think the answer could be yes because of the coherence of the whole, but I think think that has to do with the phrasing and the way she gets the singers to form the notes. I haven't really explored this very much yet.


Aside from this point I bolded, one of the main benefits of breaking up the polyphonic movements in a live performance (which was pertinent to that YT performance) is to give the singers a rest.  But also, viz. recordings, it gives the listener a change in texture.  I vastly prefer hearing the interpolated chant between the polyphonic movements, especially in the KYRIE sections.  Machaut indicated that each section of the KYRIE/CHRISTIE/KYRIE should be repeated three times.  This is in line with how it works liturgically.  Many people simply ignore this written instruction, but adding chant accomplishes it with a minimum of repetition.

But additions can be overdone, as I consider Clemencic accomplished with his.  Actually, the mass itself is good, so I should separate out his movements and leave out all the other stuff.

Quote
Berry's performance is cerebral, prayerful. As opposed to the visceral Pérès and Schmelzer. This is maybe an interesting way to classify medieval music in performance: the extent to which you're aware of the physicality of the singers, their throats and their guts.

By the way, Mary Berry doesn't just interleave monophonic music, she puts a polyphonic motet in there too and I like that (Schmelzer does something similar.)

Mine is taking longer to cross the ocean.  I am very much looking forward to hearing hers, and everything you say makes me even more interested.  4 of the 6 mass movements are written as isorhythmic motets, so using a motet movement does nothing to relieve the texture, but it preferable to putting organ in there.

Quote
I enjoy Clemencic, as you know, whatever its relation to an ur-performance.

I am probably mis-remembering (is that a George Bushism?) but I thought you said Clemencic was a riotous mess, or something of the sort.  Or was that premont?
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 14, 2017, 04:12:42 PM
What he actually says is this

What I need to know is whether earlier notated polyphonic mass settings were more explicit about things like ornamentation, ficta, relative duration of notes etc. Why does [Schmelzer] say "previously unknown"?

I think I may have an idea of why Schmelzer says this.  In the GLORIA and CREDO, the two movements written not as linearly conceived isorhythmic motets but more chordal and syllabic (because of the textural requirements), Machaut was not obvious with his use of pre-existing material, e.g. cantus firmus.  It can be found, but one has to search, and these musical phrases might have been so ingrained in the ear of any 14th century musician that they became cliches, used without thinking.  However, his method of organization is fascinating and very strict.

I suppose an argument could be made that these movements may have sounded new to Machaut's audience.  However, Leech-Wilkinson does not make that point while discussing it and providing a detailed analysis of the music.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 17, 2017, 01:51:05 PM
I wrote a short overview of the polyphonic lais with thumbnail reviews of the recordings.

The Polyphonic Lais of Guillaume de Machaut : Overview + Recordings (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/the-polyphonic-lais-of-guillaume-de-machaut-overview-recordings/)

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/bnf-ms-a-f221ra.jpg?w=522&h=446)

I included two recordings of new music based on Machaut  by Heinz Holliger and Philippe Leroux.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 17, 2017, 02:59:23 PM
My copy of the Machaut mass by Mary Berry just came in:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0002/969/MI0002969236.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

And I love it, love it, love it!  Easily the one I will recommend. 

First of all, concerning the issue of how to perform the mass, just polyphonic movement or to reconstruct the liturgical experience, she chooses the full church version with appropriate plainchant and Propers sung excellently.  Next, she is very conservative with her handling of musica ficta, also a decision I am grateful for.  Her all male group sings with expressive phrasing and fine intonation.

The main drawback is that the recording is not readily available from US sources.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 18, 2017, 12:08:17 AM
My copy of the Machaut mass by Mary Berry just came in:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0002/969/MI0002969236.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

And I love it, love it, love it!  Easily the one I will recommend. 

First of all, concerning the issue of how to perform the mass, just polyphonic movement or to reconstruct the liturgical experience, she chooses the full church version with appropriate plainchant and Propers sung excellently.  Next, she is very conservative with her handling of musica ficta, also a decision I am grateful for.  Her all male group sings with expressive phrasing and fine intonation.

The main drawback is that the recording is not readily available from US sources.

The Epistle on that is priceless!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 18, 2017, 09:04:19 AM
These are all the recordings of Lais that I've found.

Qui n'aroit autre deport (Lay de Bon Espoir)   Mauillon (Remede) ; Ensemble Giles Binchois ; Brian Gulland (Babel)

1. Loyauté, que point ne delay      Mauillon (Tourment) ; Binkley

16. Je ne cesse de prier (Le Lay de la Fonteinne)   Davies Bros ; Binkley ; Hilliard

17. S'onques dolereusement (Le Lay de Confort)   Davies Bros

18. Longuement me sui tenus (Le Lay de Bonne Esperance)   Oxford Camerata ; Orlando

22. Qui bien aimme a tart oublie (Le Lay de Plour)   Bonnardot (Devotion)

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 19, 2017, 06:23:15 AM
Machaut : Messe
Orlando Consort

(http://www.orlandoconsort.com/images/scatteredrhymes.jpg)

I am going back and re-listening to all my copies of the mass in preparation for writing short reviews in my discography.

Orlando Consort's recording is wedged in between works by modern composers like Tarik O'Regan and Gavin Bryars.  I am not sold on this concept, in general I have limited patience for this kind of thing, but the actual performance of the mass is noteworthy, such as it is.  As an example of the decision to sing the six polyphonic movements back-to-back it is, if not the best, among the best.  Their singing is stronger and looser than the Oxford Camerata under Jeremy Summerly, and the Hilliard Ensemble's recording was fine for its time but since 1987 there have been more than a few that have bested their effort.

One thing the OC does to avoid the obvious pitfall with the poly-movements-only approach is to vary (sometimes dramatically) the dynamics creating respite from the sameness of the texture.  The also break up the Kyrie sections with chant, something most people have begun to do.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 19, 2017, 06:29:27 AM
These are all the recordings of Lais that I've found.

Qui n'aroit autre deport (Lay de Bon Espoir)   Mauillon (Remede) ; Ensemble Giles Binchois ; Brian Gulland (Babel)

1. Loyauté, que point ne delay      Mauillon (Tourment) ; Binkley

16. Je ne cesse de prier (Le Lay de la Fonteinne)   Davies Bros ; Binkley ; Hilliard

17. S'onques dolereusement (Le Lay de Confort)   Davies Bros

18. Longuement me sui tenus (Le Lay de Bonne Esperance)   Oxford Camerata ; Orlando

22. Qui bien aimme a tart oublie (Le Lay de Plour)   Bonnardot (Devotion)

I think you are probably right but I haven't done a search to confirm.  The lais are the most under-represented of Machaut's canon on recordings.

The Epistle on that is priceless!

The Epistle?  That one is a fairly simple chant, mainly on one note.  But the track after that, the long Gradual & Alleluia: Audi filia is phenomenal.

I am waiting on delivery of Zephyrus Medieval Quartet, Paul Walker, dir., recording done in 2006.  Zephyrus is a North Carolina group of amateur singers, but whose recording has been highly praised and mentioned favorably along with Berry's as full liturgical versions with excellent singing.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 19, 2017, 07:26:28 AM



The Epistle?  That one is a fairly simple chant, mainly on one note.



Not the tune, the singing! He's very Oxford with his vowels, and that makes me smile always and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, even though officially I think it's not a good thing musically.  I find him totally charismatic in his 3 minutes of glory, he seems to make the words sound meaningful. So I forgive him his public school accent.

By the way I enjoyed Hilliard's Lai de la fontainne, somehow I'd never played it before so thanks for mentioning it.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 19, 2017, 07:32:34 AM
Not the tune, the singing! He's very Oxford with his vowels, and that makes me smile always and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, even though officially I think it's not a good thing musically.  I find him totally charismatic in his 3 minutes of glory, he seems to make the words sound meaningful. So I forgive him his public school accent.

By the way I enjoyed Hilliard's Lai de la fontainne, somehow I'd never played it before so thanks for mentioning it.

I think that is the priest conducting the service and not one of Berry's singers.  But I could be wrong.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: kishnevi on January 19, 2017, 06:38:35 PM
I was listening to my one recording of the Mass last night,  something I haven't done in quite a long time (meaning several years).

This was the Ensemble Organum/Peres recording.

The principal impression was that the chant and the Machaut polyphony were a relatively seamless whole.  Machaut's music seemed an expansion or unpacking of the chant, both in terms of musical elements and the phasing in and out between monophonic chant and the polyphony.  Like traffic on a road that changes from single lane to multi lane, and fortunately without the congestion when the change goes the other way.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 19, 2017, 07:07:32 PM
I was listening to my one recording of the Mass last night,  something I haven't done in quite a long time (meaning several years).

This was the Ensemble Organum/Peres recording.

The principal impression was that the chant and the Machaut polyphony were a relatively seamless whole.  Machaut's music seemed an expansion or unpacking of the chant, both in terms of musical elements and the phasing in and out between monophonic chant and the polyphony.  Like traffic on a road that changes from single lane to multi lane, and fortunately without the congestion when the change goes the other way.

That is a nice metaphor.  4 of the 6 movements are based on chant, with the other voices weaving a tapestry around it.

One thing that is special about the Machaut mass is that he was the first composer we know of who wrote a complete mass as a unified work.  It was not until fifty years after his death that early Renaissance composers started to replicate this kind of work.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 22, 2017, 04:32:15 AM
Mass : Emmanuel Bonnardot

(http://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CAL9318.jpg)

Bonnardot uses a large-ish mixed ensemble for his recording of the mass.  His sound is actually a throw back to the earliest recorded examples of this work.

The way he handles the Kyrie repetitions is to alternate between solo voices/full choir and plainchant.

His recording features several works he adds before (medieval dances, a secular motet from Roman de Fauvel), between and after the polyphonic mass movements, even to including an instrumental dance between the Gloria and Credo (something I find anathema to the work) and the spoken, "Deploration sur la mort de Machaut".

Recordings that come to mind as comparisons would be Rene Clemencic (because of the inclusion of dances) and Lucien Kandel/Musica Nova because of the sound of the vocal ensemble.  However, Bonnardot's acoustic is drier and not as pleasing as Kandel's.  Bonnardot is more conservative than Kandel with the decision of when to raise a pitch using the principles of musica ficta.

Bonnardot made an impressive recording of Machaut's monophonic works including a wonderful performance of "Le lay de plour", but I am not sure if the mass suits his talents.  The overall effect is a hodge-podge of styles and music and the recording does not present the mass in a unified conception so much as attempting to have something for everybody thrown in.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 24, 2017, 06:56:26 AM
This book was just delivered:

Musica Ficta: Theories of Accidental Inflections in Vocal Polyphony from Marchetto da Padova to Gioseffo Zarlino
by Karol Berger

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31rFiBXhhgL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)

It was cited by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson as the primary source he used for his edition of the Machaut mass concerning adding accidentals according to the principles of music ficta. 

The issue of accidental inflection is such an important aspect of understanding, performing and appreciating music from the 13th-15th centuries, I decided to invest in this book, which appears to be the most comprehensive resource on the subject.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 26, 2017, 02:54:58 PM
Machaut : Messe de Nostre Dame
The Zephyrus Medieval Quartet

(http://www.zephyrus-va.org/images/machaut-200.jpg)

Paul Walker, Celebrant (countertenor 1)
Colin Bird, Deacon (countertenor 2)
J. R. Ankney, Sub-Deacon (contratenor)
Jason Stell, Cantor (tenor)



Essentially a complete liturgical performance, although without the readings.  Zephyrus is a non-professional group based in Charlottesville, Virgina, led by Paul Walker.  This recording was made in 2006.  Generally good, some drift with the intonation, but pretty decent.  I am following with the Leech-Wilkinson score, which they appear to have used, since they do not insert any additional accidentals.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 30, 2017, 02:47:38 PM
Today I came home to find that Bjorn Schmelzer had left a rather long comment (almost longer than my article) on my blog.  You can find my article on his recording and his comment here (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/taking-liberties-bjorn-schmelzer-machauts-messe-de-nostre-dame/).

He goes to some length to explain his approach and I appreciate the fact that he did so; honored in fact. 

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 31, 2017, 11:58:25 AM
Very good, it's great that more of the debate is within reach.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone 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.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JCBuckley on January 31, 2017, 12:50:15 PM
this is very interesting & rather impressive - thank you
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone 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 (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/taking-liberties-bjorn-schmelzer-machauts-messe-de-nostre-dame/#comment-687).
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka 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.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone 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.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: kishnevi 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.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone 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.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka 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? 

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone 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.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on February 01, 2017, 12:33:37 PM
No more than exists throughout the Classical music canon.

I need to think about this.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on July 28, 2017, 12:45:38 AM
The Orlando Consort's latest installment in their Machaut series has been released:

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

(http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/jpegs/034571281346.png) (http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA68134)

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
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on August 11, 2017, 11:52:27 AM
The Orlando Consort's latest installment in their Machaut series has been released:

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

(http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/jpegs/034571281346.png) (http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA68134)

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.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Omicron9 on August 23, 2017, 06:06:38 AM
And this:

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on January 01, 2018, 04:55:11 AM
This new recording of Machaut's Messe by Vienna Vocal Consort:

https://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/classical/products/8347958--machaut-nostre-dame

The notes mentions five singers, (female) soprano, (female) alto, tenor, baryton and bass. The notes are not clear about it, but I can not hear that the soprano participates, and if she does it must be in her lowest tessitura. Maybe she sings on the other pieces on this CD, among others a Magnificat octavi toni by de la Rue.

The interpretation is middle of the road in a most positive sense, tempi relatively fast but not too fast. Only very sparse vibrato is used. The group blends extremely well and still every voice is clearly audible. The tenor does not stick out and the (somewhat androgyne) alto is not allowed to steal the show. Some individual decisions about musica ficta have been made, as with every recording of this Messe. The general impression is not unsimilar to Wenzinger's  recording, even if this is performed in low tessitura with two tenors and two basses.

Much recommended.

I didn't see this post back in October and am always thrilled to see new recordings of the Machaut mass.  I have just purchased downloads of this recording and am listening to it right now. 

The first thing I noticed is that this is a performance styled version, i.e. missing the insertions for an actual liturgical setting - which is often the case but is not a choice that I think benefits the effect of Machaut's music.  And while I prefer an all male group for this work, the female alto does not stick out and the singing is not at all operatic.  The audio engineers captured an acoustic on the dry side which clearly displays the polyphony, but also produces a somewhat severe sound.  In a phrase this is the opposite to Schmelzer, but also sounds somewhat anemic.

The use of ficta is limited to cadential leading tones and will produce cross relations here and there, which might strike some ears as harsh, but is idiomatic based on what we know of the 14th century sacred performance style and is the one exciting aspect of the performance.

After one listening, this is certainly not my favorite recording, Mary Berry holds that position, but I would place this one above the line of those recordings I prefer because it is OVPP, lower range and in general presents a conservative performance.  However, without the liturgical insertions the polyphony is laid bare and the entire work, stripped of its context, loses much of its power.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 10, 2018, 09:36:02 PM
(http://www.clicmusique.com/covers/back/0034571282060.jpg)

Listening to this new recording of Machaut songs by Orlando Consort, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering how much of Machaut’s music is based on a formulaic model-based approach, and is essentially good but mainstream craftsmanship.

The Orlando approach seems to invite me to engage with the music at arms length, most of what they do isn’t particularly affective. Maybe for Machaut’s audience, who not only had a more immediate grasp of the words, but also had more empathy for all the numerological or alchemical ideas probably contained in the poems and the music, this sort of abstract appreciation would be more satisfying. But for a modern audience a more emotionally demonstrative reinterpretation may be more communicative.

I don’t mean what I say above to be a comment reflecting equally on all of the music on this disc, S’onques doloreusement and  Dame, comment qu’aimez for example is much more emotionally engaging and certainly does not give the impression of formulaic music.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 11, 2018, 01:19:43 PM
(http://www.clicmusique.com/covers/back/0034571282060.jpg)

Listening to this new recording of Machaut songs by Orlando Consort, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering how much of Machaut's music is based on a formulaic model-based approach, and is essentially good but mainstream craftsmanship.

The Orlando approach seems to invite me to engage with the music at arms length, most of what they do isn’t particularly affective. Maybe for Machaut’s audience, who not only had a more immediate grasp of the words, but also had more empathy for all the numerological or alchemical ideas probably contained in the poems and the music, this sort of abstract appreciation would be more satisfying. But for a modern audience a more emotionally demonstrative reinterpretation may be more communicative.

I don’t mean what I say above to be a comment reflecting equally on all of the music on this disc, S’onques doloreusement and Dame, comment qu’aimez for example is much more emotionally engaging and certainly does not give the impression of formulaic music.

There are two recordings of the Lay de Confort, one on the above Orlando recording and one here which I find less stimulating 

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_300/723385039020.jpg?1528286266)


Orlando present it as a canon for three voices and Brüggen as a song for voice and two melody instruments. Presented as a canon it sounds to me like absolutely nothing else I’ve ever heard, music from Mars, more complex and more subtle than the most complex and subtle ars subtilior, more contrapuntally multi-layered than a baroque fugue.

Orlando believe their voice only treatment has this consequence

Quote
The effect of the canonic structure is that the rhyme sounds follow each other three times in quick succession and sometimes coincide in two of the voices.
.

The words are available, and we get helpful clues about the deeper meaning of the music e.g.

Quote
The compositional idea behind the repeating canon structure was probably to evoke the eternal rotation of Fortune’s wheel.

The  Orlandos have got very good at singing this sort of material. The lay is divided into several parts marked by changes in rhythm, and I’d say that Part II is some of the best and most intriguing medieval singing I’ve ever heard.

Basically this is astonishing, challenging, exciting music, performed with tremendous commitment and authority. I really had no idea that music could sound like this.


Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JBS on October 12, 2018, 04:25:10 PM
Mandryka, thanks for this.
The CD is currently in transit to me, so I'll probably chime in with my own reaction sometime next week.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 12, 2018, 08:43:18 PM
 

The CD opens and closes with the same motet (called De Fortune) opening with it for 3 voices and closing with it in a much shorter version for 4   - it’s an interesting concert type of gesture, it makes me think that they conceive of the CD as a recital. How very annoying that Orlando don’t do Machaut concerts, at least not as far as I can see. They recorded De fortune years ago in their 1999 Machaut CD. They’ve become tougher and less languid, less sensual. This is really going in the opposite direction from the trend in early music.

In the motet Dame comment qu’aimez, it’s as if they’ve developed a wholly original means of expression, abstracted and yet full of feeling. The voice of a disembodied platonic form (sorry! Couldn’t resist!) I’d love to hear them singing the sailor’s song at the start of Tristan like this.

They don’t use instruments in this motet or indeed in any other piece of by Machaut, even going as far as to improvise vocalise for untexted music. I remember they do that in de Vitri  too, so it must be a policy.  I suppose they do it because none of them play an instrument well enough and they don’t want to bring others in. It sounds fine to me, but I can’t follow the old French when they sing - to someone who was listening to the words it might be a problem. I doubt it's true to C14 practice, as far as I know the iconographic and literary record indicates singers and instrumentalists -- but I could be wrong. It's frustrating they don't discuss it anywhere as far as I can see.

They’re producing some extraordinary recordings at the moment, one after the other in a pretty short time - two Machaut CDs this year and a CD of early English music. And they're touring singing motets in screenings of Dreyer's Jeanne d'Arc -- I guess the film puts bums on seats.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 13, 2018, 02:59:03 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71I4WfmAhDL._SX450_.jpg)


Some of the courage of the Orlando approach becomes clear in the song Dame vostre doulz viaire. This is a frequently performed song with several verses, some of which are repeated, it lasts about 5 minutes. No one has dared to do it on record like the Orlando Consort - solo tenor, in this case Mark Dobell. He has, as they say, nowhere to hide! Is their courage foolhardy?

Here’s what it looks like on the page, and it looks to me that singing it solo is kind of the “purest” way of reading  the score, even if it may not be what Machaut expected of a performance.

(http://www.moyenagepassion.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/musique_chanson_medievale_virelai_guillaume_machaut_manuscrit_ancien_fran%C3%A7ais-1586_moyen-age.jpg)

Does Mark Dobell make it affective for his audience? He takes pains to pronounce the words clearly, but obviously he’s performing for an audience who don’t have immediate access to medieval French or to medieval ideas. His CV says he was at Cambridge and Guildhall London, and he sounds like it, I mean he sounds like a teacher and scholar from Middle England singing Old French. I repeat: was his courage foolhardy?  I leave the question pregnant and unanswered for the moment, just noting that he may not believe it should be affective - he may think that medieval music is more about  abstract contemplation than about being moved.

(https://img.discogs.com/HueRyd9qIzTvQYtkZWGmPf3NQqs=/fit-in/600x511/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-11878482-1528011113-2669.jpeg.jpg)

Dominique Vellard has a little instrumental prelude and some instruments make a little polyphony to accompany his singing, his voice is beautiful, with a mysterious dreamy quality, there’s  some variation in the instrmental parts but maybe not enough to make it interesting for the duration. Five minutes can be an awfully long time.

(https://media.cdr.nl/COVER/MEDIUM/FRONT/EAX1797/Mon-chant-vous-envoy-Virelais-ballades-et-rondeaux.jpg)

Marc Mauillon has a little instrumental group accompanying him, and he sings in an unashamedly sensual way, he takes his time and allows us to relish Machaut’s melodies. He’s much more willing to introduce timbre and dynamics to embellish the music expressively. The result is a more affective performance than either Dobell or Vellard, but IMO it’s bought at the expense of a certain vulgar sentimentality. It’s a price I may be willing to pay.

(http://i62.servimg.com/u/f62/12/92/42/38/6port449.jpg)

Clemencic uses one of my favourite instruments, a hurdy gurdy, and his singer has an air of authenticity, I don’t know who it is but hopefully someone can tell me, because I want more of him. Honestly, as soon as he opens his mouth I’m in the Middle Ages - a strange mysterious and slightly dangerous world of extreme tough unsentimental passion. The world of Villon. He’s a singer with blood and tripes.

You can keep the rest, I’m only interested in Clemencic. 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: (: premont :) on October 13, 2018, 03:54:20 AM

They don’t use instruments in this motet or indeed in any other piece of by Machaut, even going as far as to improvise vocalise for untexted music. I remember they do that in de Vitri  too, so it must be a policy.  I suppose they do it because none of them play an instrument well enough and they don’t want to bring others in.

This would be an unusual reason. As you know, there is a school (Christopher Page) which thinks that instruments weren't used for these songs.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: (: premont :) on October 13, 2018, 03:58:54 AM

Clemencic uses one of my favourite instruments, a hurdy gurdy, and his singer has an air of authenticity, I don’t know who it is but hopefully someone can tell me, because I want more of him. Honestly, as soon as he opens his mouth I’m in the Middle Ages - a strange mysterious and slightly dangerous world of extreme tough unsentimental passion. The world of Villon. He’s a singer with blood and tripes.

René Zosso, I suppose (much used in Clemencic's recordings):

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/atn85289.htm

I think I own this, which I can upload for you, if you want:

https://www.amazon.fr/Florilege-Vielle-Roue-Rene-Zosso/dp/B0000007JS/ref=sr_1_8?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1539432187&sr=1-8&keywords=rene+zosso
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 13, 2018, 05:59:35 AM
It's true that in 1983, for his performance note for the recording The Mirror of Narcissus, Christopher Page mentions that there's some research which suggests that exclusively vocal performances were well known in late medieval France and that he wrote a paper in 1977 which "advocates" this method. I haven't read the paper, I'd like to if anyone can let me have it.

His position isn't that instruments weren't used -- which is clearly a much stronger idea than "exclusively vocal performances were well known"

He does sometimes use instruments -- harp or lute -- in Machaut. In the essay Page wrote for Lancaster and Valois (1991 I think) in the discussion of Riches d'amours he says

Quote
Machaut's ballades of this type are often superbly designed to display the best in a beautiful voice discreetly accompanied by another voice or (as here) by an instrument

I'd very much like to read Page, but his papers are hard to get hold of and the books are expensive. It's been a pleasure just looking over his essays for the booklets -- he's an articulate and persuasive scholar with interesting well considered ideas. (I've just found a cheap copy of his book called "The Owl and the Nightingale" -- hopefully it will arrive.)

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 13, 2018, 06:03:55 AM
René Zosso, I suppose (much used in Clemencic's recordings):

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/atn85289.htm

I think I own this, which I can upload for you, if you want:

https://www.amazon.fr/Florilege-Vielle-Roue-Rene-Zosso/dp/B0000007JS/ref=sr_1_8?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1539432187&sr=1-8&keywords=rene+zosso

Yes please! I can see he recorded for Savall as well as Clemencic.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: (: premont :) on October 13, 2018, 12:21:23 PM
It's true that in 1983, for his performance note for the recording The Mirror of Narcissus, Christopher Page mentions that there's some research which suggests that exclusively vocal performances were well known in late medieval France and that he wrote a paper in 1977 which "advocates" this method. I haven't read the paper, I'd like to if anyone can let me have it.

His position isn't that instruments weren't used -- which is clearly a much stronger idea than "exclusively vocal performances were well known"

He does sometimes use instruments -- harp or lute -- in Machaut. In the essay Page wrote for Lancaster and Valois (1991 I think) in the discussion of Riches d'amours he says

I'd very much like to read Page, but his papers are hard to get hold of and the books are expensive. It's been a pleasure just looking over his essays for the booklets -- he's an articulate and persuasive scholar with interesting well considered ideas. (I've just found a cheap copy of his book called "The Owl and the Nightingale" -- hopefully it will arrive.)

I think there is a general consensus, that instruments might be used for free preludes and interludes for monodic songs (this seems at least to have been general practice during the last 60 years -at least). But what I refer to are polyphonic songs, where Page (and David Fallows?) think, that a textless voice in a manuscript doesn't indicate that the part should be played by an instrument, but that all parts should be sung. Whether one decides to accommodate the words to the textless part or prefers to vocalise the part is left to the performers discretion.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 13, 2018, 09:24:54 PM
I think there is a general consensus, that instruments might be used for free preludes and interludes for monodic songs (this seems at least to have been general practice during the last 60 years -at least). But what I refer to are polyphonic songs, where Page (and David Fallows?) think, that a textless voice in a manuscript doesn't indicate that the part should be played by an instrument, but that all parts should be sung. Whether one decides to accommodate the words to the textless part or prefers to vocalise the part is left to the performers discretion.

Voicing the textless parts may make the text of the poem harder to hear, just because the voices are all rather close to each other. Maybe what this shows is that Machaut’s audience were very literary, he could assume that they’d read the poem and thought about it before hearing the song

I’ve been listening to this motet à 3 - where you have three poems sung simultaneously

https://youtube.com/v/Lptkr6U34y0

The poems all treat of complementary ideas about love - prima facie the words matter, it’s like a debate with a thesis, an antithesis and a synthesis. But I think it would be quite a challenge to understand them when they’re all sung together like that. It’s not like a trio in a Moazart opera because the voices are so close to each other. The audience must have all been expected to know the poems before the concerts.

Unless the words don’t matter, and it’s some sort of “pure” music, or indeed a subversive gesture designed to undermine a literary culture, to play with poems by turning them into sounds . . .

 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JBS on October 14, 2018, 06:36:41 PM
(http://www.clicmusique.com/covers/back/0034571282060.jpg)

Listening to this new recording of Machaut songs by Orlando Consort, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering how much of Machaut’s music is based on a formulaic model-based approach, and is essentially good but mainstream craftsmanship.

The Orlando approach seems to invite me to engage with the music at arms length, most of what they do isn’t particularly affective. Maybe for Machaut’s audience, who not only had a more immediate grasp of the words, but also had more empathy for all the numerological or alchemical ideas probably contained in the poems and the music, this sort of abstract appreciation would be more satisfying. But for a modern audience a more emotionally demonstrative reinterpretation may be more communicative.

I don’t mean what I say above to be a comment reflecting equally on all of the music on this disc, S’onques doloreusement and  Dame, comment qu’aimez for example is much more emotionally engaging and certainly does not give the impression of formulaic music.

I am listening to this for the first time.
The canonic use of voices does in fact work well for Lay de confort, but overall the voices only approach is a bit wearing. A full hour of it is too much. Just one or two tracks at a time, I suggest. Instruments are needed to vary the tonal palette.

But would Machaut's audience have heard this music in anything approaching this format? Probably more like a sing or two mixed in with pieces by other musicians, and breaking off when their ears started to tire. Maybe reciting other poetry with no music mixed in with music...
...just throwing out ideas in that last paragraph...
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 14, 2018, 08:46:25 PM
I am listening to this for the first time.
The canonic use of voices does in fact work well for Lay de confort, but overall the voices only approach is a bit wearing. A full hour of it is too much. Just one or two tracks at a time, I suggest. Instruments are needed to vary the tonal palette.

But would Machaut's audience have heard this music in anything approaching this format? Probably more like a sing or two mixed in with pieces by other musicians, and breaking off when their ears started to tire. Maybe reciting other poetry with no music mixed in with music...
...just throwing out ideas in that last paragraph...

It does feel that Machaut’s music is very high brow and literary, and yes, I can imagine recitals of the poems before the songs or breaking them up. But I don’t know. I do know that some scholars (possibly Christopher Page) believe that it was much more popular than we can imagine today, and not at all a proto- art subtilior.

The other thing I wonder is whether it would have been better for Orlando to have been more flexible about instruments, rather than have a strict no instrument policy. We’ve seen that Christopher Page was more flexible, and it looks to me that a vocal rendition of the untexted music, or the solo rendition of a lay,  is more an option than a stipulation, maybe not always the most desirable option. But I’ve not seen the research on this, not yet anyway.

If you’re going to sing a long song without instruments, you’d better be good at the poetry. Peter Peers could have done it, or Karl Erb, or Jon Vickers!

It’s well worth listening to Gothic Voices and the way they use vocalise, my impression is that they’re more instrumental sounding, sometimes, if I listen on my second (not so good) hifi, I’ve thought that the vocalise was in fact some sort of instrument! Très bonne et belle in The Study of Love is a great example of this I think. You may prefer their style to Orlando’s. I like both, especially when Orlando sing in an ethereal disembodied way.

The long monophonic songs are very challenging though for a modern audience. Marc Mauillon is experimenting with ways of embellishing the music with expression which may make them more sensual, his work is certainly worth hearing, as is Hilliard’s recording of the motets for ECM, which in some ways makes me think of Bjorn Schmelzer. And I hope that one day Jill Feldman will bite off more Machaut, I’m sure she’d do something interesting. All we have for the moment is a CD called Trecento.

It’s  all challenging in its way, that’s why Machaut  seems to me to be perennially, essentially, avant garde!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: JBS on October 15, 2018, 05:53:38 PM
I have some stuff by Gothic Voices, not sure atm whether any of it is Machaut. Ditto with Hilliard. Will be checking to see. Thank you for all tje suggestions.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on October 16, 2018, 09:56:47 AM
Happy to see the latest Orlando Consort's Machaut recording is getting some talk going.  I had posted about it in the Early Music Club but no one appeared to notice.

The Orlando's recordings are well worth investigating, not only because of their excellent (imo) performances, which are informed by first rate scholarship regarding the music and performance practice during Machaut's period - but also because of their dedication to recording his complete collection of works. 

A link between songs of the troubadours and Machaut's court song literature could be argued and adding an instrumental accompanist would not be out of the question.  I am pretty sure I've heard some of his music performed this way, and do not doubt that the music may have been done this way during his lifetime.

But the performances by the OC, a cappella, are very good as they are and I have the entire set that has been released so far and will continue buying them as they appear.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 18, 2018, 06:40:17 AM
(https://shop.new-art.nl/assets/image.php?width=800&image=/content/img/new_products_queue/1443523599.jpg)

Is it true that Orlando Consort are the only ones to have recorded a vocal, or mainly vocal, or partly vocal, or slightly vocal performance of Hoquetus David?

Binkley - instruments
Kandel - instruments
Munrow - instruments
Bruggen - Instruments
Alba Musica Kayo - a short hallelujah introduction, and then instruments
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: (: premont :) on October 18, 2018, 07:07:06 AM
Is it true that Orlando Consort are the only ones to have recorded a vocal, or mainly vocal, or partly vocal, or slightly vocal performance of Hoquetus David?


Maybe this, I don't know. But at least no instrumentalists are mentioned:

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/rgu1013.htm

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 18, 2018, 09:29:28 AM
Maybe this, I don't know. But at least no instrumentalists are mentioned:

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/rgu1013.htm

Ah yes, Sanantnio has it, I've never been able to find it for sale anywhere
Machaut : Messe le Nostre Dame
Vocal Ensemble Cappella | Tetsuro Hanai

(http://www.regulus-classics.com/albums/images/RGCD-1013_thumbnail.jpg)

This Japanese group performs a very good Messe.  Anyone who is familiar with the 2005 concert recording by Rebecca Stewart and Schola Machaut will hear a similarity in pacing and phrasing.

I want to spend some time with it so I can get a handle on the issues we've talked about concerning ficta, etc. but my initial impression is positive - although I think this is one where they sing the polyphonic movements without any intervening plainchant.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 09, 2018, 10:34:47 AM
This may well be the first recording of Machaut's music, Lambert Murphy singing Douce dame jolie with a delightful Tudor accompaniment. You need to enable flash

http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/628/

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 10, 2018, 03:02:15 PM
I think there is a general consensus, that instruments might be used for free preludes and interludes for monodic songs (this seems at least to have been general practice during the last 60 years -at least). But what I refer to are polyphonic songs, where Page (and David Fallows?) think, that a textless voice in a manuscript doesn't indicate that the part should be played by an instrument, but that all parts should be sung. Whether one decides to accommodate the words to the textless part or prefers to vocalise the part is left to the performers discretion.

It turns out that Page argued right from the start that the harp was a suitable instrument for accompaniment, apparently there was an Ars Subtilior composer who was a well know harpist who wrote about this. Anyway the thing I wanted to say is that I think you'll appreciate  Daniel Leech-Wilkinson's The Modern Invention of Medieval Music, which contains a very extended analysis of Gothic Voices's experiments, amongst many other interesting things.

The frustrating thing is not being able to get hold of Page's publications, I really must investigate whether there's a music library in London I can subscribe to. If anyone knows of one then please say.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 10, 2018, 03:28:04 PM
Voices with instruments for secular music go back to the time of the troubadours/trouveres, so very early on it was commonly done.  But regarding sacred music, only the organ was used (and that practice was rather late) and only used alternatim, not concurrently with the voices.  We have to wait until Monteverdi, when dramatic/operatic influences began to enter the church, for full instrumental accompaniment to be heard.

My own taste is to prefer early sacred music, i.e. 9th-16th century done with male voices and without instruments, and my interest wains the closer I get to the Baroque period.  But I enjoy secular music with a variety of instruments accompanying the voice(s).
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 10, 2018, 11:29:48 PM
Re sacred music and instruments, there’s a recording of Dufay’s Gloria ad modem tubae which Hilliard made which uses no instruments. It always makes me smile.

There’s a medieval manuscript in Göttingen which contains a mass with parts to be sung and parts to be spoken by a priest. When it was recorded they wanted to preserve a sense of dialogue between singer and priest, but they thought that having a priest speaking may not be attractive, so they replaced the spoken parts with some instrumental music. It’s really addictive recording, I can’t get enough of it!

More generally you have untexted passages in sacred music like in that Dufay Gloria, and you have to do something with them, what are the choices? Instruments, alter the phrasing and try and fit some words to them,  get a singer to do some melismas on a vowel, cut the words completely and play the lot on an organ or some sort of consort . . .
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 11, 2018, 12:47:43 AM
Re sacred music and instruments, there’s a recording of Dufay’s Gloria ad modem tubae which Hilliard made which uses no instruments. It always makes me smile.

There’s a medieval manuscript in Göttingen which contains a mass with parts to be sung and parts to be spoken by a priest. When it was recorded they wanted to preserve a sense of dialogue between singer and priest, but they thought that having a priest speaking may not be attractive, so they replaced the spoken parts with some instrumental music. It’s really addictive recording, I can’t get enough of it!

More generally you have untexted passages in sacred music like in that Dufay Gloria, and you have to do something with them, what are the choices? Instruments, alter the phrasing and try and fit some words to them,  get a singer to do some melismas on a vowel, cut the words completely and play the lot on an organ or some sort of consort . . .

Of course we can enjoy a performance of Medieval (or earlier) music done by any combination of voices and instruments, or instruments alone.  My preference follows my taste and I do not enjoy Machaut or Dufay sung without instruments by a male group because I think it is correct but because that is how I like to hear this music done.  However, I think the scholarly community is agreed that prior to the 17th century instruments other than organ were not used in the church.  Palestrina's Mantuan masses are a good example of how the organ was used, alternatim.

I see nothing in Dufay’s "Gloria ad modem tubae" that cannot be sung, and it is an example of hocket which was common during the time.  Hocketing was so common that it was criticized (to the point of trying to prohibit it) in the early 14th century:

"A Cistercian statute of 1320 requires that plainchant be sung in the traditional way, the modern
way "with syncopations of notes and also hockets having been forbidden in our chant simply
because such things smack more of looseness than of devotion" ("sincopationibus notarum et
etiam hoquetis interdictis in cantu nostro simpliciter quia talia magis dissolutionem quam
devotionem sapiant" [Canivez 3:349]).

Throughout the fourteenth century hocketing was used in almost all the polyphonic genres. In
motets and mass movements it often highlighted the repetitive structure of isorhythm and
ornamented melismatic passages, such as concluding Amens." (Wolinski (https://www.bestmusicteacher.com/download/wolinski_the_medieval_hocket.pdf))

The Gloria in Machaut's mass also has similar short sections where the voices carry on with a short musical phrase for the lower voices between verses.  Neither of these have what I would describe a melisma.  Now, you do have melismatic singing in earlier periods of organum and conductus.  But again none of these examples have music which cannot be sung or is even hard for a singer to execute.

Is Daniel Leech-Wilkinson really trying to prove that instruments were used in sacred music during Dufay's or Machaut's time with the example of Dufay's Gloria ad modem tubae?

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 11, 2018, 12:57:01 AM
Is Daniel Wilkinson-Leech really trying to prove that instruments were used in sacred music during Dufay's or Machaut's time with the example of Dufay's Gloria ad modem tubae?

As far as I can see he doesn't mention it, the reason I said it makes me smile is that it reminds me of when I was at school, and we had to sing "Ding dong merrily on high . . . "

However, I think the scholarly community is agreed that prior to the 17th century instruments other than organ were not used in the church.

That's interesting, I didn't know that. Not even bells in chants to get the boys off on the right note!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 11, 2018, 12:59:14 AM
As far as I can see he doesn't mention it, the reason I said it makes me smile is that it reminds me of when I was at school, and we had to sing "Ding dong merrily on high . . . "

I botched his name, I meant Daniel Leech-Wilkinson.   :-[
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 11, 2018, 01:02:36 AM
Well, it is a controversial subject and I am sure there are some who make the opposite argument, although my sense is that most early period musicologists would agree with my statement.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 11, 2018, 01:18:10 AM
Found it! I've been going crazy searching for this. Here's some bells and Leonin. Whether they would have been used for training or in performance is something I can't say.

https://www.youtube.com/v/fVjo_mhcGG8
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 11, 2018, 01:49:00 AM
Well, it is a controversial subject and I am sure there are some who make the opposite argument, although my sense is that most early period musicologists would agree with my statement.

In motets, I don't believe there's any consensus. Liturgy I need to think about.

A lot depends on whether you think the piece functions best as a sequence of simultaneous lines all of which need to be heard as separate and independent  (in which case you may want to have an instrument, something with a non-vocal timbre), or whether you want to bring out the harmonies, the chords (in which case all voices may help a lot.)

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 11, 2018, 02:19:13 AM
Found it! I've been going crazy searching for this. Here's some bells and Leonin. Whether they would have been used for training or in performance is something I can't say.

https://www.youtube.com/v/fVjo_mhcGG8

Bells are not the kind of instrument I was speaking of, they were used in the Mass and were not a problem to indicate sectional divisions. 

Motets which were inserted between the main sections of a Mass, also would not use instruments other than organ. 

I am not sure where you are getting your information, but church authorities controlled what occurred in church services.  For centuries there was an accepted tradition that the purpose of music was to enhance the devotional atmosphere.  Instruments normally associated with secular music were not seen as helping to accomplish this goal and in fact were seen to encourage just the opposite.

The same tradition criticized florid singing that might make the text harder to understand or converted the music into an end of itself as opposed to the means to preserve or enhance the religious experience.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 11, 2018, 02:40:33 AM
I am not sure where you are getting your information, but church authorities controlled what occurred in church services.  For centuries there was an accepted tradition that the purpose of music was to enhance the devotional atmosphere.  Instruments normally associated with secular music were not seen as helping to accomplish this goal and in fact were seen to encourage just the opposite.


This, I'm pretty sure, is wrong once Cathedrals started to be built at least, with their own staff, who weren't monks. The Church, Rome or whatever, may have wanted to control religious music, but they weren't specially successful at imposing their wishes. For example, Reims was ferociously independent minded. Anne Walters Robertson is good on this, as is a paper by Christopher Page called The Masters of Organum.



The same tradition criticized florid singing that might make the text harder to understand or converted the music into an end of itself as opposed to the means to preserve or enhance the religious experience.

It's true that some Cistercian monks criticised florid singing, though I wasn't aware that the problem was to do with making the text harder to understand.  If you could find a bit of support for that I'd be interested. Cathedrals had different ideas, and in any case the objection to florid singing may have been a particularly cictercian preoccupation. You've got to remember that in some cathedrals there's so much echo that hardly anyone could understand the words anyway -- they weren't built with acoustic considerations in mind.  The bishops who managed the budgets in cathedrals needed to get sponsors and bums on seats in services and I suppose florid music was one way. Even in the monastery style there was plenty of florid singing, in Aquitaine for example



I think that the medieval view of text in music is really interesting and I'd like to know more about it. This came up for me big time when I was thinking about why so many people sing Machaut motets inexpressively.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 11, 2018, 05:51:27 AM
This, I'm pretty sure, is wrong once Cathedrals started to be built at least, with their own staff, who weren't monks. The Church, Rome or whatever, may have wanted to control religious music, but they weren't specially successful at imposing their wishes. For example, Reims was ferociously independent minded. Anne Walters Robertson is good on this, as is a paper by Christopher Page called The Masters of Organum.

It's true that some Cistercian monks criticised florid singing, though I wasn't aware that the problem was to do with making the text harder to understand.  If you could find a bit of support for that I'd be interested. Cathedrals had different ideas, and in any case the objection to florid singing may have been a particularly cictercian preoccupation. You've got to remember that in some cathedrals there's so much echo that hardly anyone could understand the words anyway -- they weren't built with acoustic considerations in mind.  The bishops who managed the budgets in cathedrals needed to get sponsors and bums on seats in services and I suppose florid music was one way. Even in the monastery style there was plenty of florid singing, in Aquitaine for example



I think that the medieval view of text in music is really interesting and I'd like to know more about it. This came up for me big time when I was thinking about why so many people sing Machaut motets inexpressively.

 I've read all those writers you refer to, and others.  Andrew Parrott has also written extensively and convincingly on this issue.

I don't really wish to go back and reconstruct the research I did a couple of years ago specifically on the issue of how instruments were or were not  used in sacred music; how late was it when they were beginning to be used and the reasons for the practice of voice-only in the first place.  But here are a few quotes from one article I managed to find quickly among my folders: "Were Musical Instruments Used in the Liturgical Service during the Middle Ages?" by Edmund A. Bowles

 
Quote
There is considerable evidence to show that secular instrumentalists
 were not allowed to perform sacred music during the service within
 the walls of church and cloister. Eude Rigaud, Archbishop of Rouen
 in the mid-thirteenth century, states in his Regestrum visitationum that
 there was a statute forbidding all lay folk from entering the choir during
 a service. 

Gautier, in his monumental work on the French epic,
 observed that the medieval jongleur was forbidden from participating
 vocally or instrumentally in the mass.

The Capitulary of 789 forbade bishops, abbots
 and abbesses from admitting jongleurs into their confines. A more
 specific reference is to be found in a treatise by Gilles de Zamore, the
 twelfth-century Franciscan, who wrote in his Ars Musica that with the
 exception of the organ, all other instruments were rejected:

 And of this instrument alone the church has made use in various kinds
 of singing, in prose, sequence, and in hymns, other instruments being
 commonly rejected because of the abuses of the jongleurs.

 At the larger religious maftrises, such as Notre-Dame at Paris, the min-
 strels and jongleurs were also looked upon askance, following the
 rigorous exclusion of all secular elements from hallowed ground.

 Norman clerics in the thirteenth century were prohibited from asso-
 ciating with goliards, actors, and jongleurs. The Synod of Chartres
 in 1358 forbade priests and clerics from employing actors or
 jongleurs.

  There is a further factor that indicates that secular musicians did not
 perform in the liturgical service. The music of the mass and office was
 of course committed to manuscript. Within such an unvarying, tra-
 ditional and symbolic framework, this ultimately had to be so. Its
 successful rendition demanded a certain amount of musical training and
 no little practice. Would the jongleur have been able faithfully to
 render such music were it set before hime This is very doubtful.
 Worldly music depended in a large measure upon improvization.
 Songs and dances of this character either were merely 'sketched' in
 manuscript form or, more often, were not written down at all.35
 During the later Gothic period some jongleurs wrote out 'notes' to
 assist their memories when performing songs; but it is interesting to
 observe that in these notebooks no music is shown. Consequently, the
 performers may never have performed in exactly the same manner each
 day;3" they relied primarily upon their ability to improvize, having
 learnt to play more or less by heart. The oral delivery of contemporary
 prose and poetic works by these entertainers points to the fact that
 when instruments were added to provide an accompaniment, the
 music, too, had been memorized.3' Similarly, the minstrel schools, or
 reunions, usually held during Lent, enabled both singers and instru-
 mentalists to exchange stories and songs, and to hear the latest com-
 positions of their trade. Such a tradition was hardly capable of pro-
 ducing musicians who could master the subtleties of medieval poly-
 phonic notation. Owing to the strong feelings against him, as well as
 to his lack of technique, the jongleur or minstrel was unable to perform
 in the liturgical service.

 The traditional Christian objection to the use of musical instruments
 in church had its origin in both practical and doctrinal considerations.
 In times of hostility the early church existed largely underground.
 'Everything depended on their not lifting for their enemies the veil of
 secrecy which hid their meetings. Consequently, the Christians were
 forced for some time to adopt an unfriendly attitude towards musical
 instruments.

But the most important factors were religious in nature,
 and the acceptance or denial of instruments was for most churchmen
 a matter of conscience. The subject was frequently debated and agree-
 ment was not always reached. Official policy, however, varied less as
 the Middle Ages wore on. In spite of the fact that some of the less
 conservative writers stood for a moderate use of instruments, the strong
 moral stand of the majority overruled them. Many church fathers
 warned that unlimited instrumental practices would only lead to
 excesses and recall men to pagan customs.

Loud, traditionally 'pagan'
 instruments were rejected, and in their sermons the writers warned their
 congregations against such oriental influences as noisy instruments,
 dancing, and hand-clapping in connection with religious services. As
 a matter of policy, church singers were forbidden from learning or
 playing instruments.

Finally, the faithful were warned that all instrumental music was the work of the devil.

But this has nothing to do with how this music can be performed.  If you enjoy hearing a mass from the Middle Ages or Renaissance with instruments, by all means enjoy it and look for other recordings like it.  We are all free to listen to, perform and record this music as our taste dictates.

There is no need to try to document a historical argument for adding instruments.  We are not bound by what was or wasn't done 600+ years ago; and it really doesn't matter since what is the deciding factor is more practical: how the musicians wish to make the music, and if there are enough people to support their interpretative and performance choices to sustain a career.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 11, 2018, 06:36:01 AM
Performing Machaut's Mass on Record
Author(s): Andrew Parrott
Source: Early Music, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Oct., 1977), pp. 492-495

Which instruments were used in the church of  Machaut's time? And how were they used? Both  questions can be safely set aside until another, more  fundamental question has been answered-were  instruments used at all in the medieval church? The  evidence for the organ is clear; also bells had a  function. But what is the evidence for instruments  apart from these ? It has generally been assumed that,  because musical instruments play such a large role in  medieval art and literature, they must have had easy  admission into liturgical usage. After all, the Psalms  themselves are full of exhortations to praise God instruments and hundreds of medieval psalters contain appropriate pictorial representations.

To understand fully the very conservative attitude of the medieval church towards instruments we must first look at the writings of the early Church Fathers.3 To them, quite simply, musical instruments were evil: 'If an anagnost [cantor] learns to play the kithara, he shall confess this. If he does not return to it, his punishment shall be for seven weeks' duration. If he persists, he shall be dismissed and excluded from the church.' (Canones Basilii 74)

The vehemence of this 4th-century Alexandrian law is shared by practically all early Christian writings on the subject of musical instruments. And the prime reason behind it is that instruments were closely associated with sexual immorality. It can, of course, be argued that the need for legislation and for strong criticism of any abuse springs from the very existence of that abuse. This is true enough, but the condemnations of musical instruments were made in the context of wedding-festivities, plays or banquets- never of the liturgy itself. In fact, so exclusively vocal was the music of the early Christian church that there was never occasion to criticize the use of instruments in church and the evidence is that this attitude survived well into the Middle Ages   

Developments in the liturgy through the Middle  Ages were inevitable, but the rites of all religions are  essentially so conservative that changes do not pass  unnoticed. Thus we find that Erasmus, writing more  than a century after Machaut's death, had cause to  criticize instrumental music in much the same way as  the Fathers had done, but with the significant addition  that it was now to be heard 'even in the holy temple,  just as in the theatre'.6

This was a comparatively new  development around 1500, and one that is corro-  borated by other writers. But as far as the church of  Machaut's time and earlier is concerned, we may be  fairly certain that instruments other than the organ  (and perhaps bells) were never used. In fact, a 13th-  century Spanish Franciscan states unequivocally that:  'The Church uses only the organ for its various chants  and sequences and hymns; all other instruments have  been banned because they were abused by play-  actors.'7 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 11, 2018, 07:14:15 AM
I wonder what Parrott would say happened  between the end of the C14 and the start of the C15 to make instrumental participation in liturgy acceptable. (I'm assuming Erasmus was talking about more than bells and organ. ) He also writes as if there's evidence for organ being used in a C14 mass, I'd like to see that evidence.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 11, 2018, 08:38:45 AM
One C19 musicologist (Kiesewetter) found the harmonies towards the end of Machaut's song Dous viaire so nasty that he scribbled in his copy of the score O tempora! O mores! This made me a little curious to hear it.

I found two recordings, Orando and Pierre Hamon


(http://machaut.exeter.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Fortunes_child.png?1525876942)  (https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0003/616/MI0003616662.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Now comes the odd thing. As far as I can see the music is in two parts

Here's a snip of the music

(http://machaut.exeter.ac.uk/sites/default/files/RondeauxA.jpg?1357906678)

and here's the complete manuscript

https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8449043q/f412.item

If I'm right (and I hope I'm wrong) Orlando completely cut out the tenor without any explanation in the booklet.

In Hamon's it's sung beautifully and expressively by Marc Mauillon, with instrumental accompaniment.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 11, 2018, 09:20:24 AM
One C19 musicologist (Kiesewetter) found the harmonies towards the end of Machaut's song Dous viaire so nasty that he scribbled in his copy of the score O tempora! O mores! This made me a little curious to hear it.

I found two recordings, Orando and Pierre Hamon


(http://machaut.exeter.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Fortunes_child.png?1525876942)  (https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0003/616/MI0003616662.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

Now comes the odd thing. As far as I can see the music is in two parts

Here's a snip of the music

(http://machaut.exeter.ac.uk/sites/default/files/RondeauxA.jpg?1357906678)

and here's the complete manuscript

https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8449043q/f412.item

If I'm right (and I hope I'm wrong) Orlando completely cut out the tenor without any explanation in the booklet.

In Hamon's it's sung beautifully and expressively by Marc Mauillon, with instrumental accompaniment.

I do not think the manuscript fragment (nor the link you posted) are of Dame, vostre doulz viaire.   From what I've read it is a monophonic virelai (n17).  Most versions I've heard treat as such. 

This video has the manuscript

https://www.youtube.com/v/XajTddcgCSE&feature=share
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 11, 2018, 09:26:01 AM
I see the problem, there are two things by Machaut with the words Doulz Viaire!

Now that I’ve found the right one I’m pleased to say that there’s a fabulous performance from Clemencic! The great René Zosso I think.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 19, 2018, 12:42:15 AM
(https://img.discogs.com/BhHnUHDbUID7fJIJoAMG99LXEH4=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-7562589-1444077135-7771.jpeg.jpg)

I like this recording more every time I hear it. The thing that's knocked my socks off this time is Lay 7, which has been enhanced by Hollliger's polyphonic reworking, which seems to me to be sympathetic, idiomatic, modern and medieval all at the same time. A major achievement on the part of Holliger. I want more things like this -- it really does suggest that aN idea of Bjorn Schmelzer is true -- that early music is a latent avant garde.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: amw on November 19, 2018, 02:53:46 AM
I've given in and ordered the Gentle Physician Orlando Consort album, having, uh, "found" their other volumes elsewhere—given the state of the postal service I expect it will arrive in about three months, but still significantly cheaper to order direct from Hyperion (costs about $20) than to buy it in a shop ($37).

Am developing a great fascination with Machaut even though I don't feel I quite understand the music—it feels like an artefact from the 25th century, rather than the 15th.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 19, 2018, 05:19:57 AM
I've given in and ordered the Gentle Physician Orlando Consort album, having, uh, "found" their other volumes elsewhere—given the state of the postal service I expect it will arrive in about three months, but still significantly cheaper to order direct from Hyperion (costs about $20) than to buy it in a shop ($37).

Am developing a great fascination with Machaut even though I don't feel I quite understand the music—it feels like an artefact from the 25th century, rather than the 15th.

Always happy to see another Machaut fan (btw, he's 14th c.); he's is one of my favorite composers.  OC recordings are good but there are many choices out there.  Because he was able to collect all of his music in multiple complete or near-complete manuscript books, his music is very well documented in recordings.

(https://img.discogs.com/BhHnUHDbUID7fJIJoAMG99LXEH4=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-7562589-1444077135-7771.jpeg.jpg)

I like this recording more every time I hear it. The thing that's knocked my socks off this time is Lay 7, which has been enhanced by Hollliger's polyphonic reworking, which seems to me to be sympathetic, idiomatic, modern and medieval all at the same time. A major achievement on the part of Holliger. I want more things like this -- it really does suggest that aN idea of Bjorn Schmelzer is true -- that early music is a latent avant garde.

I usually skip the Holliger's sections after about a few minutes; there is at least one other recording mixing contemporary music with Machaut (which echos amw's comment above about the 25th century:

RESPONSIO (https://fdleone.com/2015/11/24/responsio-peter-anthony-togni-meets-machaut/) is Peter-Anthony Togni’s extensive musical commentary on Guillaume de Machaut’s medieval masterpiece the Messe de Nostre Dame. Juxtaposing the contemporary sound and performance practice of a bass clarinet against the timeless sonorities of a world class vocal quartet, Responsio brings Machaut’s beautiful 14th century creation into the heart of the 21st century.

The similarity between Solage "Fumeux fume par fumee" and the first Ballad is quite striking. 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 19, 2018, 07:34:36 AM
The first Ballad, you mean en amer a douce vie?
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 19, 2018, 08:53:51 AM
The first Ballad, you mean en amer a douce vie?

The first track on the Holliger CD, Ballade IV "Biaute qui toutes autre pere"
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 21, 2018, 03:56:07 AM
I had cause to re-listen to Andrew Parrott's recording of the Messe due to a discussion in the HIP thread with Mandryka.  I always cite his recording as one of my favorites but rarely actually listen to it since new recordings come out just about each year.  But it all came home to me just how much I appreciate his recording.

Here's why:

OVPP - all male group.  This is my general preference, and not because it is most likely how Machaut expected his mass to be performed, I just love the sound of male voices instead of a mixed group with high women voices.  The general lack of available singers trained well enough to execute polyphony at Machaut's time would have resulted in his having only a few regular singers.  OVPP would probably have been routine.  A larger choir of churchmen would have sung the chant and other monophonic sections but smaller group of more professional singers would have sung the more complicated music.  Of course it would have been all male since women did not sing in church at all.

But I don't prefer his ensemble because I think it's "correct"; no, I just vastly prefer the sound of an all-male group, especially OVPP, singing in a lower tessitura.  Which brings me to the second point.

The pitch is lowered a fourth.  Parrott has made the case in several articles and books that our understanding of pitch level is different from the earlier centuries.  He makes the same lower transposition for a composer as late as Monteverdi (Parrott's Vespers is worth hearing for that fact alone), but the lower pitch sung by men creates a darker and preferable sound palette, imo.

A minimal approach to adding in accidentals.  Musica ficta is something which causes much consternation within the early music community.  Despite having available a number of surviving texts from the Middle Ages that offer guidance on how to handle accidentals there is still much room for discretion.  I prefer a "less is more" approach since it preserves a modal and remote soundscape rather than a more liberal application which results in the music sounding closer to our time and less distinctly Medieval.

Appropriate liturgical insertions are placed between the mass movements.  Most recordings of mass record only the polyphonic sections of the mass, without the chant, motets and other sections that would have been added for the mass of that day.  Many people prefer to hear just the music that was composed without the liturgical sections.  Not me.  Parrott's recording lasts right at an hour and with the added music the mass sections seem to benefit from the context.  At least for me.

There are other recordings that take a similar approach, but aside from Mary Barry, I don't think Parrott has been equaled or certainly not bettered.

For your listening pleasure, here's his recording in its entirety.

https://www.youtube.com/v/RDovcUQ8Kgk
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 21, 2018, 05:40:13 AM
I also enjoy hearing the Machaut in this recording, very much. 

I wonder how Parrott came to his decision about tempo in the polyphony.

I'd be quite interested to know more about Parrott's work on pitch because I was under the impression somehow that we couldn't comment on absolute pitch in Machaut.

If all the singers have a similar timbre there are going to be consequences for hearing all the voices clearly , especially the lower ones.


I don't know is whether there is supposed to be a dialogue between the propers and the ordinary in the Machaut mass, or if there is, I don't know whether Parrott shows it up. If not, I'm not sure what the point is about having a recording with chanting.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: amw on November 21, 2018, 06:10:42 AM
Always happy to see another Machaut fan (btw, he's 14th c.); he's is one of my favorite composers.  OC recordings are good but there are many choices out there.  Because he was able to collect all of his music in multiple complete or near-complete manuscript books, his music is very well documented in recordings.
In addition to the OC Hyperion recordings (+ one of their discs on Archiv) and the Machaut-Holliger—where I think I like Holliger's contributions even more than Machaut's—I have the Ensemble Musica Nova set of motets, the Hilliard Ensemble partial set of motets, 3 recordings of the Mass (Clemencic Consort, Diabolus in Musica, & Oxford Camerata), Mercy ou mort (chansons & motets) from Ferrara Ensemble, The Mirror of Narcissus (songs) from Gothic Voices, the 2 polyphonic lais from the Medieval Ensemble of London, and an album from the Clerks—I think it's more motets. And probably some Graindelavoix. There's certainly a very wide variety of choices.

I'll keep an eye out for a real life copy of the recording you posted—Parrott albums regularly turn up in the secondhand bin at my nearest CD shop. (I got their St John Passion for $5 some months ago.)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 21, 2018, 06:14:49 AM
I also enjoy hearing the Machaut in this recording, very much. 

I wonder how Parrott came to his decision about tempo in the polyphony.

Not sure

Quote
I'd be quite interested to know more about Parrott's work on pitch because I was under the impression somehow that we couldn't comment on absolute pitch in Machaut.

The mass is usually written starting in a D minor mode.  I haven't taken a tuning fork to his recording, but would guess from his writings that he went down a fourth to A.

Quote
If all the singers have a similar timbre there are going to be consequences for hearing all the voices clearly , especially the lower ones.

Machuat's mass (as well as much of this music) was scored for two sets of voices, two low and two high - tenors and baritones.  The voices sometimes cross - and there can be some difficulty in following a specific voice if you are not familiar with the music.

Quote
I don't know is whether there is supposed to be a dialogue between the propers and the ordinary in the Machaut mass, or if there is, I don't know whether Parrott shows it up. If not, I'm not sure what the point is about having a recording with chanting.

The texts of the polyphony were set, but his mass is a Mary mass (Mass of Our Lady) as well as having some requiem aspects, and the inserted sections reflect those ideas.  But beyond that, I like hearing the polyphony within the chants and other sections in order to experience a variety of texture and singing styles.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 21, 2018, 06:20:14 AM
In addition to the OC Hyperion recordings (+ one of their discs on Archiv) and the Machaut-Holliger—where I think I like Holliger's contributions even more than Machaut's—I have the Ensemble Musica Nova set of motets, the Hilliard Ensemble partial set of motets, 3 recordings of the Mass (Clemencic Consort, Diabolus in Musica, & Oxford Camerata), Mercy ou mort (chansons & motets) from Ferrara Ensemble, The Mirror of Narcissus (songs) from Gothic Voices, the 2 polyphonic lais from the Medieval Ensemble of London, and an album from the Clerks—I think it's more motets. And probably some Graindelavoix. There's certainly a very wide variety of choices.

I'll keep an eye out for a real life copy of the recording you posted—Parrott albums regularly turn up in the secondhand bin at my nearest CD shop. (I got their St John Passion for $5 some months ago.)

Of your three mass recordings, Diabolus in Musica is closest to Parrott; Oxford Camerata is good for a strictly polyphonic version - but I am not a fan of the Clemencic Consort, although it has its advocates.  Ensemble Musica Nova has recorded the mass with a mixed group and adding in more accidentals, as well as inserting organ music from about a century later.  Despite all of this, it is an enjoyable recording.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 21, 2018, 06:29:22 AM
In addition to the OC Hyperion recordings (+ one of their discs on Archiv) and the Machaut-Holliger—where I think I like Holliger's contributions even more than Machaut's—I have the Ensemble Musica Nova set of motets, the Hilliard Ensemble partial set of motets, 3 recordings of the Mass (Clemencic Consort, Diabolus in Musica, & Oxford Camerata), Mercy ou mort (chansons & motets) from Ferrara Ensemble, The Mirror of Narcissus (songs) from Gothic Voices, the 2 polyphonic lais from the Medieval Ensemble of London, and an album from the Clerks—I think it's more motets. And probably some Graindelavoix. There's certainly a very wide variety of choices.

I'll keep an eye out for a real life copy of the recording you posted—Parrott albums regularly turn up in the secondhand bin at my nearest CD shop. (I got their St John Passion for $5 some months ago.)

The Clemencic has become a favourite of mine, partly because I like the singers very much -- not just the mass but all the other stuff on the recording. Right now the thing I'm exploring the most is Ensemble Musica Nova's ballads -- I'm going to hear them sing some Machaut on Saturday!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on November 21, 2018, 06:52:10 AM
Mandryka, in answering your questions, particularly the one about dialogue between the composed and chants, I failed to point out that Machaut based several sections on existing chants.  The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV, the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, although they are stylistically related to one another.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on November 21, 2018, 06:54:40 AM
Mandryka, in answering your questions, particularly the one about dialogue between the composed and chants, I failed to point out that Machaut based several sections on existing chants.  The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV, the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, although they are stylistically related to one another.

Thanks for that -- lots to think about!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on January 07, 2019, 11:07:02 PM
I've read all those writers you refer to, and others.  Andrew Parrott has also written extensively and convincingly on this issue.

I don't really wish to go back and reconstruct the research I did a couple of years ago specifically on the issue of how instruments were or were not  used in sacred music; how late was it when they were beginning to be used and the reasons for the practice of voice-only in the first place.  But here are a few quotes from one article I managed to find quickly among my folders: "Were Musical Instruments Used in the Liturgical Service during the Middle Ages?" by Edmund A. Bowles

 
But this has nothing to do with how this music can be performed.  If you enjoy hearing a mass from the Middle Ages or Renaissance with instruments, by all means enjoy it and look for other recordings like it.  We are all free to listen to, perform and record this music as our taste dictates.

There is no need to try to document a historical argument for adding instruments.  We are not bound by what was or wasn't done 600+ years ago; and it really doesn't matter since what is the deciding factor is more practical: how the musicians wish to make the music, and if there are enough people to support their interpretative and performance choices to sustain a career.

I’ve just read that quote from Edmund Bowles more carefully, and of course, you can’t draw any conclusions from it either about how early masses were performed or how their composers expected them to be performed. I got interested in the question again through a discussion elsewhere about Clemencic’s Dufay. In his sleevenote for his recording of the Missa Ave Regina Coelorum Clemencic is unusually categorical

Quote
According to numerous contemporary reports on interpretation, at the celebration of the great ecclesiastical feast days, "during the customary parts of the singing the kettle drums and wind instruments sounded" -- in fact a type of solemn fanfare was improvised. Passages of particular moment in the mass could be emphasised by the addition of wind instruments and kettle drums

And that led us to try and find the source of these contemporary reports, so far with no success. If Clemencic were younger I’d write to him, but he’s 90 now and it seems wrong to bother him at such a great age.

On the way, someone found this comment about the mass, not about instruments but about fitting the text of the mass to the score, which I thought you may find interesting, given a conversation we had a few weeks ago about the Ockeghem L’homme Armé.

Quote
G R Curtis in “Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale MS. 5557, and the Texting of Dufay's" Ecce ancilla Domini" and" Ave regina celorum"Masses.” Acta musicologica. 1979 Jan 1:73-86.

As in the Ecce ancilla Domini Mass, the underlay in the lowest part, here marked
'bassis', is very problematical. Certainly there is no question of fitting the mass text
rationally in either the Gloria or the Credo without systematic breaking of ligatures
and extensive disalignment and omission of text because of long notes. Problems
of consistency also arise because of the unusual mixture of incipits from both the
Mass and antiphon texts. More specifically, as Planchart has recently observed, the
very precise placing of the syllables of ,Gaude gloriosa' in the bass part of the Gloria
shows that these antiphon words should almost certainly be sung in preference to
those of the Mass.

Given what we’ve seen with the Faugues and Ockeghem L’homme armé, my guess is that this type of practice is not uncommon.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Vinbrulé on February 21, 2019, 10:17:59 PM
I find this version of Messe de Notre Dame simply irresistible (registered in 1961 !!! )
Alfred Deller avoids the numbers that purists of the liturgy call "proprium"  :)  Doing so he doesn't interrupt the enormous dramatic and motoric push of this wonderful music .  I'm not interested in liturgy , I love the music in itself . 
P.S.  Does it exist a complete recording of the Machaut's  chansons ?   
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on February 22, 2019, 08:40:19 AM

P.S.  Does it exist a complete recording of the Machaut's  chansons ?

Not as far as I know, I guess there will be eventually from Orlando Consort.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on February 22, 2019, 11:50:29 PM
I find this version of Messe de Notre Dame simply irresistible (registered in 1961 !!! )
Alfred Deller avoids the numbers that purists of the liturgy call "proprium"  :)  Doing so he doesn't interrupt the enormous dramatic and motoric push of this wonderful music .  I'm not interested in liturgy , I love the music in itself . 
P.S.  Does it exist a complete recording of the Machaut's  chansons ?

The Deller Consort is too high spirited in the mass for me.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on February 23, 2019, 12:33:42 AM
The Deller Consort is too high spirited in the mass for me.

I don't think there was a good recording of the Machaut Messe prior to Andrew Parrott's, which was recorded in 1983, released in 1984. 
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on February 24, 2019, 12:06:42 AM
I don't think there was a good recording of the Machaut Messe prior to Andrew Parrott's, which was recorded in 1983, released in 1984.

That would be very strange if it were true, but it isn't. The Schubertian recording by Pro Musica Antiqua is one of my favourite things in the universe.


(https://res.cloudinary.com/reverb-lp/image/upload/c_fill,f_auto,g_center,h_450,w_450/v1/v2/images/14a8f10d-f973-40b9-86e4-130c25f7ab67)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on February 24, 2019, 12:28:59 AM
That would be very strange if it were true, but it isn't. The Schubertian recording by Pro Musica Antiqua is one of my favourite things in the universe.

(https://res.cloudinary.com/reverb-lp/image/upload/c_fill,f_auto,g_center,h_450,w_450/v1/v2/images/14a8f10d-f973-40b9-86e4-130c25f7ab67)

To each his own.  It is certainly true that I do not like any of the recordings of the Messe prior to Andrew Parrott's. 

That said, Stafford Cape's recording is better than the rest of those early recordings.  But it is a combination of the misguided musicology and primitive sound quality, plus the fact that there are at least half a dozen more recent recordings which are so much better, that I do not feel the need to go back and subject myself to recordings prior to 1984.

 ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on February 24, 2019, 04:00:38 AM


That said, Stafford Cape's recording is better than the rest of those early recordings. 

 ;)

Ah yes, I sense a chink appearing in the carapace.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Vinbrulé on February 24, 2019, 04:07:19 AM
That would be very strange if it were true, but it isn't. The Schubertian recording by Pro Musica Antiqua is one of my favourite things in the universe.


(https://res.cloudinary.com/reverb-lp/image/upload/c_fill,f_auto,g_center,h_450,w_450/v1/v2/images/14a8f10d-f973-40b9-86e4-130c25f7ab67)
Perhaps you posted the wrong image.
I have listened to some extracts of the Machaut's Mass directed by Safford Cape (1956) :  really it seems to come from another universe, considering the , perhaps too high spirited  :) , version of Alfred Deller.  Nonetheless well worthy of notice and to listen to it with affection .
Now I ask :  are we sure those years (I mean Fifties and Sixties) were really "years of dark ignorance"  ??   
P.S. After many and many versions of the Art of Fugue I've listened to , still I can't forget the performance of Karl Munchinger with Stuttgart Ch.Orchestra. It still moves me !     
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on February 24, 2019, 04:38:49 AM

Now I ask :  are we sure those years (I mean Fifties and Sixties) were really "years of dark ignorance"  ??   
   

I think that historians know a little more about what the score means, and how it was played in medieval times. So in that rather academic sense we're slightly less ignorant now than in Staffor Cape's day/

That academic work can inspire performers to try out new things, see what it goes like. The most impressive example of this is how a bit of research which suggested that motets in a corner of France were sometimes for a short period of time sung OVPP a capella led to all the experiments by Gothic Voices, Sequentia, Orlando Consort etc.

Whether it's a success or not depends on how its received, and what makes it well received is a complicated question. The zeitgeist may lead in a different direction.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on February 24, 2019, 05:33:29 AM
Now I ask :  are we sure those years (I mean Fifties and Sixties) were really "years of dark ignorance"  ??     

Yes.  It was once widely accepted that Machaut wrote the Messe de Nostre Dame for the coronation of Charles V.  This caused most performances to assume a certain pomp and additional fanfare than is appropriate (hence brass and other issues of scale).  Is has been established that the Charles V coronation had nothing to do with this work (although Rheims cathedral was the site for coronations, his did not involve this mass), and that Machaut wrote the mass for more personal reasons related to a memorial for his brother's and his memory and to honor the Virgin Mary. 

There are other issues related to purely musical decisions, e.g. whether to include any instruments, how large a vocal ensemble, and whether to use female voices, and the thorny practice of how to handle accidentals, which have benefited from scholarly research done since the 1970s.

Of course you are free to enjoy any recording for any reason.  It is not that I dislike the recordings from the '50s and '60s because of some abstract musicological reason; I just prefer the sound of some of the more recent recordings.

My favorites are Andrew Parrott, Mary Berry, Marcel Peres, Diabolus in Musica, Dominique Vellard, Patricia Stewart and Bjorn Schmelzer (who takes some liberties himself but in a direction that produces more pleasant results, IMO).
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on April 09, 2019, 07:37:42 PM
(https://img.discogs.com/q_qUnMOhzXJmGowS07CWUQICQnI=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-12860547-1543346165-5810.jpeg.jpg)

Very good singing here from Emanuel Bonnardot, the diction.

Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on April 11, 2019, 12:25:39 AM
(https://img.discogs.com/q_qUnMOhzXJmGowS07CWUQICQnI=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-12860547-1543346165-5810.jpeg.jpg)

Very good singing here from Emanuel Bonnardot, the diction.

These are all the recordings of Lais that I've found.

Qui n'aroit autre deport (Lay de Bon Espoir)   Mauillon (Remede) ; Ensemble Giles Binchois ; Brian Gulland (Babel)

1. Loyauté, que point ne delay      Mauillon (Tourment) ; Binkley

16. Je ne cesse de prier (Le Lay de la Fonteinne)   Davies Bros ; Binkley ; Hilliard

17. S'onques dolereusement (Le Lay de Confort)   Davies Bros

18. Longuement me sui tenus (Le Lay de Bonne Esperance)   Oxford Camerata ; Orlando

22. Qui bien aimme a tart oublie (Le Lay de Plour)   Bonnardot (Devotion)

 Bonndarnot  waxes lyrical about the Lai de plour in the booklet

Quote
In Le lay de plour, the metallic sound of the cittern takes us into a world of magic, reminding us of the Celtic background in which the genre was created. The breadth of the work — its great range of pitch as well as its length — goes well beyond the framework of an ordinary song. It is an opera in miniature in which the singer is both narrator and protagonist; the rigour of the relation-ship between the text and the music (very little melismatic writing and practically no complex vocal ornaments) reinforces the depth and the overwhelmingly convincing power of this poetic masterpiece. Following in the path of the jongleurs who performed the works of the trouveres in the Middle Ages, I have sought through the spontaneity of the voice and the colours of the instruments to give life and humanity to the sublime and timeless art of Guillaume de Machaut.
EMMANUEL BONNARDOT

Translation: John Sidgwick
8

And the booklet has a good essay by Isabelle Ragnard which makes some interesting claims about it


Quote
The lai, the longest and freest of the medieval poetic forms, was often thought to be the most difficult of all. Eustache Deschamps (c1346—c1406) remarks in his Art de dirtier that the lai is an `extremely difficult form, both to write and to invent'. The absence of a refrain, a relatively uncon-straining framework for the versification, requires that the poet 'invent' the form as he goes along, just as he freely invents his poetic material. The form stabilized a little during the course of the four-teenth century: by this stage it consisted of twelve strophes with independent metrical structures (i.e. different rhythmic and rhyme schemes) with the sole exception of the last, which was modelled on the opening strophe. Each strophe is subdivided into two or four parts which are metrically ident-ical and are sung to the same melody. The music of the first strophe is repeated in the last one, but generally transposed a fifth higher. Only Machaut's first lai, Loyaute point ne delay, is atypical in that it is perfectly regular in its strophic structure, both strophes being sung to the same melody. The real skill of the composer's art consists in the degree of musical invention and concentrated expression that he manages to instil into the lai. The close association of word and melody is emphasized by writing that is almost exclusively syllabic. Each line of verse corresponds to a musical phrase whose metrical boundaries and caesuras are marked by a cadence and a silence. Certain of Machaut's lais cover so wide a vocal range, from the lowest to the highest notes of the singing voice, that a method of performance has been suggested in which two singers alternated or answered each other in dialogue. These shifts of register, like the variety of the melodic lines, intensify and amplify the emotional content of the poem. In the 'Lai de plour' Qui bien aimme,1 for example, the abrupt change of octave at the beginning of the tenth strophe seems to translate the despairing cry addressed by the singer to the dead friend.

Bonnardot is fabulous in the 10th strophe!

I don't know if Orlando Consort will be trying to make sense of any lais; it's quite a challenge to make them into music if you do it without instruments, and I'm not convinced it's a sensible idea for them to try.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Vinbrulé on April 14, 2019, 11:14:14 PM
I think Bonnardot is fabulous in every bit of this marvellous disc.  This is the CD that caused my falling in love with Machaut's music !
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on June 10, 2019, 11:44:32 AM
Bonnardot sings another lai, the lai mortel, otherwise unrecorded as far as I know, in this rather attractive CD - he really is a very good singer.

(http://i62.servimg.com/u/f62/12/92/42/38/minico24.jpg)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Roy Bland on June 16, 2019, 02:27:36 AM
Is this piece really of him?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1p5dTEgsdU
It was theme of an old tv series.
TIA
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: North Star on June 16, 2019, 06:41:05 AM
Is this piece really of him?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1p5dTEgsdU
It was theme of an old tv series.
TIA
No, it seems to have been written by Antonino Riccardo Luciani for the TV series
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Roy Bland on June 16, 2019, 02:28:42 PM
No, it seems to have been written by Antonino Riccardo Luciani for the TV series
TNX
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on July 21, 2019, 11:42:58 AM
(https://img.cdandlp.com/2016/05/imgL/118151869.jpg)

Listening to this 1973 recording and  what’s striking me most, as often the case in SdFM from this period, is the will to make the music contrapuntally interesting, whether that’s through the juxtaposition of contrasting human voices (and, love it or loathe it, it’s undeniable that Binkley and Ramm makes  a characterful combination when they sing together!), or through the instrumentation. Binkley’s lute music is impressively refined and intelligent. In some of the songs the counterpoint is so interesting it might as well be in the ars subtilior style (eg the two part song  quant à moi /amour et beauté )

They have a distinctive approach to sound, which is small scale and relaxed, totally different from other contemporary groups like Sequentia or Gothic Voices, I like their ideas about how to project sound in this music.


Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on October 16, 2019, 12:32:46 PM
(https://img.discogs.com/l4tUzQ69LViGjPszT_c_nRQC5F4=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-6284964-1415582204-4463.jpeg.jpg)

My attention was grabbed, and I mean I was strapped to my seat, when I stumbled across the song, Dame si vous m'estes lointaine. Everyone sings it -- Gothic Voices, Lucien Kandel, David Munrow. But I think not one of them comes close to the performance on this CD for beauty, alien beauty, and good judgement about tempo.

I got in trouble here once for saying that I was enjoying Ars Antiqua de Paris play De La Rue. I have a feeling this Machaut recording is going to become a favourite. I haven't heard the mass.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on April 05, 2020, 07:30:51 PM
https://youtube.com/v/vSOegklFtn0

Not sure what to say about this almost madrigalesque mass performance with a viol, two barytones and a countertenor.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on April 06, 2020, 02:23:24 AM
https://youtube.com/v/vSOegklFtn0

Not sure what to say about this almost madrigalesque mass performance with a viol, two barytones and a countertenor.

It is not bad, the singing is very good and the addition of the vielle is not nearly as intrusive as a horn or organ since it blends nicely with the voices.  OVPP is preferable IMO to the larger ensembles, and these three singers handle the polyphony handily.

But what is the MEC Early Music Consort?
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on April 06, 2020, 02:33:21 AM
It is not bad, the singing is very good and the addition of the vielle is not nearly as intrusive as a horn or organ since it blends nicely with the voices.  OVPP is preferable IMO to the larger ensembles, and these three singers handle the polyphony handily.


Yes, I agree I think, is there a reason for using the viol? I mean, is there a lot of music in the score which isn’t obviously associated with words? Maybe they were just four musicians who wanted to find a way to play it because they liked it.

Everyone seems to want to say vielle here, but isn’t it another words for viola da gamba? I’m never sure about instruments, there are so many of ‘em!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: San Antone on April 06, 2020, 02:43:31 AM
Yes, I agree I think, is there a reason for using the viol? I mean, is there a lot of music in the score which isn’t obviously associated with words? Maybe they were just four musicians who wanted to find a way to play it because they liked it.

Everyone seems to want to say vielle here, but isn’t it another words for viola da gamba? I’m never sure about instruments, there are so many of ‘em!

Here's the description of a vielle: The vielle /viˈɛl/ is a European bowed stringed instrument used in the Medieval period, similar to a modern violin but with a somewhat longer and deeper body, three to five gut strings, and a leaf-shaped pegbox with frontal tuning pegs, sometimes with a figure-8 shaped body.

(https://mrcaseyhistory.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/vielle.jpg?w=640)

I won't debate the use of instruments in Machaut's messe.   ;)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on April 07, 2020, 06:55:36 AM
Ah yes, I remember vielles now.

Listening to that performance of the mass with the vielle, it’s just not for me I think, though I may have enjoyed being at the concert. It may well be well sung in some sense but the countertenor just doesn’t excite my imagination.

I listened to Lucian Kandel this morning with the mass, and particularly enjoyed the organ in the Kyrie /Christie /Kyrie
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: (: premont :) on April 07, 2020, 09:23:21 AM
Ah yes, I remember vielles now.

Listening to that performance of the mass with the vielle, it’s just not for me I think, though I may have enjoyed being at the concert. It may well be well sung in some sense but the countertenor just doesn’t excite my imagination.

I listened to Lucian Kandel this morning with the mass, and particularly enjoyed the organ in the Kyrie /Christie /Kyrie

The scoring in this recording is:

Triplum: countertenor
Motetus: vielle
Contratenor: baryton
Tenor(cantus firmus): baryton

The sophisticated effect of this mass depends much upon the interplay between the two upper parts, which for that reason ought to be sung by two similar voices, ideally two high tenors. In the same way the two lower parts ask for similar voice-quality, ideally two basses. In this version the mass is transposed upwards and the interplay between the two upper parts is spoilt by using so different timbres. Other than that I am not a great fan of the unsubstantiated use of countertenors in Medieval music. The interpretation here is also much too "sweet" for Machaut's often "raw" harmonies. So from me: Thumbs down.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on June 13, 2021, 04:36:07 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/iKs9DO6F0pQ&ab_channel=AppleKadenz

Vocaloid  is a computer program. You input a score and it turns it into singing, the voices are synthetic and pop.

The above is the Gloria of Machaut's mass.
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: deprofundis on August 28, 2021, 07:53:35 AM
Guillaume DE machaut was a bridge between Ars Nova and Ars Subtilior, some song's of his are almost if not Ars subtilior starting way before it was coined.

''Python le fabuleus serpent'' is strangely bold and daring
Or the longest song recorded during this era the early 14Th century ''Longement me sui tenus ' le lay de bon esperance'' is a progressive kilometric song of 22+ minutes this is unusual to me.

Than there are two great offerings that would subject Guillaume DE Machaut was the first instigator of Ars Subtilior, Solage & Machaut The Unknown Lover by ensemble Gothic Voices (a most own).

What about another album which featured strange song's of Machaut, the delightfull, Unrequited music of Guillaume DE Machaut by ensemble Liber Unusualis?

What in your mind is thecnically Machaut Boldest song's or work has he done motets, I heard also Isorythmic Motets too. What is Machaut  plausible Ars Subtilior repertory?
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on August 28, 2021, 06:18:50 PM
Guillaume DE machaut was a bridge between Ars Nova and Ars Subtilior, some song's of his are almost if not Ars subtilior starting way before it was coined.

''Python le fabuleus serpent'' is strangely bold and daring
Or the longest song recorded during this era the early 14Th century ''Longement me sui tenus ' le lay de bon esperance'' is a progressive kilometric song of 22+ minutes this is unusual to me.

Than there are two great offerings that would subject Guillaume DE Machaut was the first instigator of Ars Subtilior, Solage & Machaut The Unknown Lover by ensemble Gothic Voices (a most own).

What about another album which featured strange song's of Machaut, the delightfull, Unrequited music of Guillaume DE Machaut by ensemble Liber Unusualis?

What in your mind is thecnically Machaut Boldest song's or work has he done motets, I heard also Isorythmic Motets too. What is Machaut  plausible Ars Subtilior repertory?


I used to have a thread on the motets - here

https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,28622.msg1232296.html#msg1232296
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: SonicMan46 on September 13, 2021, 12:33:23 PM
Thanks to San Antone & Mandryka for the discussion in this Machaut thread - detailed, erudite, stimulating and controversial regarding some of the 'practices' of the music performances back in the 14th century.  I've been going through my 'Early Music' collection in the last few weeks - not large, but representative (IMO) - been doing a little culling and also additions; posting mainly in the early age music thread - Mandryka has been my main advisor!  8)

Well, I'm up to Machaut and own just the recordings shown below; of course, the Ensemble Gilles Binchois is 3 discs, and only the first disc in the Munrow set has music by Machaut.  After reading this REVIEW (https://fdleone.com/2015/11/20/machauts-messe-de-notre-dame-an-overview/) from 2015 on the Messe de Nostre Dame, the Binchois Ensemble's recording seems well regarded - due to the seminal importance of this work, I'd like to have another recording, so which might be a good option?  I'm planning to listen to the Marcel Peres recording on Spotify, but sounds like a 'devious interpretation'?

Of course, the next 'road block' for me is how to get a handle on Machaut's songs - there were so many and I suspect 'duplication' is a big issue in collecting multiple CDs (well over a half dozen are now available on BRO at bargain prices but how to decide) - I already have 3 discs of his songs which may not be considered the best interpretations - any advice on how to get started.  Thanks all for any help.  Dave :)

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61zouvaujcL.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51mE2Hd0rlL.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/617lazfNhSL.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/7120wKmBy0L._SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on September 13, 2021, 06:38:15 PM
Thanks to San Antone & Mandryka for the discussion in this Machaut thread - detailed, erudite, stimulating and controversial regarding some of the 'practices' of the music performances back in the 14th century.  I've been going through my 'Early Music' collection in the last few weeks - not large, but representative (IMO) - been doing a little culling and also additions; posting mainly in the early age music thread - Mandryka has been my main advisor!  8)

Well, I'm up to Machaut and own just the recordings shown below; of course, the Ensemble Gilles Binchois is 3 discs, and only the first disc in the Munrow set has music by Machaut.  After reading this REVIEW (https://fdleone.com/2015/11/20/machauts-messe-de-notre-dame-an-overview/) from 2015 on the Messe de Nostre Dame, the Binchois Ensemble's recording seems well regarded - due to the seminal importance of this work, I'd like to have another recording, so which might be a good option?  I'm planning to listen to the Marcel Peres recording on Spotify, but sounds like a 'devious interpretation'?

Of course, the next 'road block' for me is how to get a handle on Machaut's songs - there were so many and I suspect 'duplication' is a big issue in collecting multiple CDs (well over a half dozen are now available on BRO at bargain prices but how to decide) - I already have 3 discs of his songs which may not be considered the best interpretations - any advice on how to get started.  Thanks all for any help.  Dave :)

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61zouvaujcL.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51mE2Hd0rlL.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/617lazfNhSL.jpg)  (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/7120wKmBy0L._SS500_.jpg)

My advice to you would be to try a CD with a style of interpretation very different from any of the ones you have - either one of the ones by Marc Mauillon. There are three: La Remède de Fortune, Mon Chant vous envoie and L’amoureuse tourment.   The latter would be a stimulating challenge for you I think. Or the CD called Unrequited from the ensemble LiberUnusualis.

If you’re open to another recording with the mass, then I would say the same. You could consider Rene Clemencic’s Machaut double CD and Jeremy Summerly’s on Naxos (both of which are great favourites of mine.) Both come with a nice selection of songs.



Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: SonicMan46 on September 14, 2021, 08:41:30 AM
My advice to you would be to try a CD with a style of interpretation very different from any of the ones you have - either one of the ones by Marc Mauillon. There are three: La Remède de Fortune, Mon Chant vous envoie and L’amoureuse tourment.   The latter would be a stimulating challenge for you I think. Or the CD called Unrequited from the ensemble LiberUnusualis.

If you’re open to another recording with the mass, then I would say the same. You could consider Rene Clemencic’s Machaut double CD and Jeremy Summerly’s on Naxos (both of which are great favourites of mine.) Both come with a nice selection of songs.

Hi Mandryka - thanks for your suggestions: 1) I'd like to add another recording of the mass and listened to most of two options on Spotify this morning, shown below; I definitely liked the Summerly better and I've been to Reims Cathedral, so another attraction; and 2) As to the songs, I spent an hour or so typing in the 5 discs of Machaut songs that I currently own, amount to over 70 w/ some duplications, esp. in the ballades - not sure that I need any more, but will look at your recommendations.  Thanks again!  Dave :)

(https://img.discogs.com/Lzfl8zcnznpWqz-EG-2yPM94odE=/fit-in/600x591/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-4878734-1577279233-6262.jpeg.jpg)  (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lAzDBdrqL._SL1200_.jpg)  (https://cdn.britannica.com/20/178020-050-A76F28D5/Reims-Cathedral-France.jpg)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: SonicMan46 on September 14, 2021, 09:56:07 AM
My advice to you would be to try a CD with a style of interpretation very different from any of the ones you have - either one of the ones by Marc Mauillon. There are three: La Remède de Fortune, Mon Chant vous envoie and L’amoureuse tourment.   The latter would be a stimulating challenge for you I think. Or the CD called Unrequited from the ensemble Liber Unusualis................

Well, I was able to find all 4 recordings above on Spotify and put together a nearly 4 1/2 hr playlist, so should get a good feel for how these performances vary from the ones I own; also, compared the recordings on two of the discs w/ my list of already owned Machaut 'songs'; there was nearly a 50% overlap which would likely dissuade me from adding (especially since some of these CDs are rather expensive these days) - lot of listening ahead; BUT will go ahead and order the Summerly mass performance.  Dave :)

(https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/i-ZmxcmKQ/0/2f4727e6/O/MachautSongs.png)
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: Mandryka on September 14, 2021, 10:36:40 AM
Well, I was able to find all 4 recordings above on Spotify and put together a nearly 4 1/2 hr playlist, so should get a good feel for how these performances vary from the ones I own; also, compared the recordings on two of the discs w/ my list of already owned Machaut 'songs'; there was nearly a 50% overlap which would likely dissuade me from adding (especially since some of these CDs are rather expensive these days) - lot of listening ahead; BUT will go ahead and order the Summerly mass performance.  Dave :)

(https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Classical-Music/i-ZmxcmKQ/0/2f4727e6/O/MachautSongs.png)

Yes, I listened to the songs on the Summerly CD this morning after making that post, and they were better than I had remembered in fact.

Re Mauillon, one reason his La Remède de Fortune is interesting is that he does all the music from the manuscript, he doesn't cut it down like Vellard. So for example you have a complaint which lasts over 40 minutes. I think just the experience of listening to that complaint attentively, following the text, is a fantastic baptism of fire. This is what they did in the 14th century!
Title: Re: Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377)
Post by: SonicMan46 on September 14, 2021, 02:55:18 PM
Yes, I listened to the songs on the Summerly CD this morning after making that post, and they were better than I had remembered in fact.

Re Mauillon, one reason his La Remède de Fortune is interesting is that he does all the music from the manuscript, he doesn't cut it down like Vellard. So for example you have a complaint which lasts over 40 minutes. I think just the experience of listening to that complaint attentively, following the text, is a fantastic baptism of fire. This is what they did in the 14th century!

Well, I had downloaded the Brilliant booklet on those narrative notes w/ the English translations - not sure that I'll be able to take 40 mins of listening to Machaut's poetry -  :o 8)  Since I don't understand the 'ancient' French dialect (I'm assuming the actor, Jean-Paul Racodon who is reading these 'interludes' between the music is speaking in the dialect, don't know?), reading the English translations for me just does not get the same feeling across (probably the reason I don't watch foreign films anymore w/ subtitiles - just not the same).  But the sound of his voice is wonderful and wish that I could understand the words.  A fascinating production - thanks for your thoughts.  Dave :)