Words and music in the Cantigas de Santa Maria: the Cantigas as song

Campbell, Alison D. (2011) Words and music in the Cantigas de Santa Maria: the Cantigas as song. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b2881507


The Cantigas de Santa Maria represent one of the largest and best-documented song collections to come out of medieval Europe, with pieces preserved in up to three manuscripts. The close degree of agreement between the sources gives this collection a more stable and unified nature than other contemporary repertories and its size – at over 400 pieces – makes it a potentially rich resource for studying medieval song. However, a history of split editions – i.e. predominantly text-focused or music-focused – has meant that the texts and melodies have rarely been given the same degree of scrutiny, and the relationship between them is still unclear. Existing literature on the Cantigas has seldom been able to address both aspects at once, and if the collection’s status as song is referred to, it is usually at the level of vague contextual statements such as “they must have been performed at Alfonso X’s court”. In short, the Cantigas have rarely been studied in detail as song.

This thesis will argue that song represents an important axis for understanding this repertory. Chapter 1 will start by surveying the basic characteristics of textual and musical structure, taking in both large-scale forms such as virelai and zajal and smaller-scale structures, as well as techniques used in composition. This will also help to situate the Cantigas in the context of other related repertories, such as those of the Occitan and Galician-Portuguese troubadours. Chapter 2 asks “What can song do for the Cantigas?”: it will first look at the text–music relationship, before going on to consider the impact of performance, and the difference that granting the pieces their status as song can make to established views both of the manuscript sources and the motivations behind the collection. This second chapter will treat song as a tool for “unlocking” aspects of the collection that have not yet been covered fully in the literature. Chapter 3, by contrast, will use the Cantigas as a starting point for a broader examination of song itself. It will ask what the experience of studying medieval repertories such as the Cantigas, and the specific types of song they represent, can do for our understanding of song as a general phenomenon. After considering the fundamental question “What makes a song?” it will seek to lay down a theoretical background for this discussion, consider existing models (especially those presented by Agawu in his 1992 article “Theory and practice in the analysis of the nineteenth-century Lied”) and conclude by offering its own set of exploratory definitions.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Cantigas de Santa Maria, characteristics of texts and melodies, text-music relationship, performance, song
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Supervisor's Name: Edwards, Dr. Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Ms Alison D Campbell
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2809
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:00
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2809

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