Guillaume de Machaut and the mise en page of medieval French sung verse

Maxwell, Sheila Kate (2009) Guillaume de Machaut and the mise en page of medieval French sung verse. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (865kB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information:


The aim of this thesis is to examine what a study of the visual presentation of the fourteenth-century poet-composer Guilluame de Machaut's songs can tell us that studying them simply as pre-defined works cannot. This has involved two distinct, but related fields of enquiry.
Firstly, I have developed of a way of considering the six manuscripts of Machaut containing what appear to be his complete works which focuses on the visual impact of each codex as a whole, from the materials used to the content it contains (text, images, music). This methodology, which draws on the works of such scholars as B. Cerquiglini (Eloge de la variante, 1989), S. Huot (From Song to Book, 1987), and D. Leech-Wilkinson (The Modern Invention of Medieval Music, 2002) and relies heavily on primary sources, is founded on the premise that each of the manuscripts is a complete and unique artefact, irrespective of who created it and for what purpose. Building on this, I argue that each manuscript can be considered a performance. When one of Machaut’s compositions (poetical, musical, or both) is preserved in more than one source, each such manuscript is considered as a performance in its own right. This performative approach allows for and indeed welcomes variations in interpretation and presentation, including those that appear to entail manipulations of the work itself, by performers as diverse as copyists (involved in internal, possibly mnemonic performance), oral interpreters (singing or reading out loud, either from memory or from a copy), editors (whatever their purpose and medium, be it a paper edition based on all sources or a digital edition of just one: perhaps these are the equivalent of today's copyists?), and readers (scholarly and leisurely, from any era).
Having established this approach in my thesis, I then assess the role of the individuals involved in such a manuscript performance. The differing role of the scribes and the author in a manuscript's production is considered, particularly with reference to the manuscripts over whose compilation the author is perceived to have had some control. The role of the reader is considered in terms of the reception of the manuscript and especially the extent to which manuscript layout and design subconsciously ‘control’ reader interpretation. In the light of this I analyse the manuscript presentation of Machaut's songs in each of the six principal manuscripts transmitting his works, with particular focus on the literary works that contain musical notation, the Remede de Fortune and the Voir Dit, the series of lays set to music, and the Messe de Notre Dame. The methodology adopted throughout considers the visual impact of the presence of music on the manuscript page and assesses the extent of this impact both on the reader and on its relevance to manuscript design: what can the layout of the music tell us about the manuscript's readers, patrons and creators? This analysis offers insights as to the role of artists in the society of mid- and late-fourteenth-century France, the changing perceptions of words and music, and the role of reading, writing, and memory in society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Guillaume de Machaut (?1300-1377), Middle Ages, Medieval, French litterature, Musicology, Manuscript studies.
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
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
College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Supervisor's Name: Davies, Dr. Peter V. and Edwards, Dr. Warwick
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mrs S. Kate Maxwell
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-764
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 May 2009
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2014 13:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year