1. Creating a Constellation of Texts

M1 is based on a melisma from a chant belonging to matins of Holy Saturday, the day of expectation before Easter.

Sound and Score    ¦    Facsimile

Easter is the most important day in the Christian year, the celebration of the fulfilment of human salvation by Christ’s resurrection. The melisma itself, by its text Amara valde derived from the prophetic books of the Old Testament, points even further, to that ‘great and very bitter’ Day of Judgment that will come, on which the human soul will be accepted or refused by the supreme Judge. Thus the tenor evokes mixed feelings of expectation, joyful in the awaiting of the fulfilment of Easter, fearful when thinking of the final acceptance or refusal on the Day of Judgment. In the French texts of the upper voices the problem is also acceptance or refusal, but now of the lover by his lady.

Motet 1 Texts and Translations

In the motetus the lover vows to love ‘perfectly’ and asks his lady for grace, but on the express condition that it will not impair her honour. Since a lady of honour must never confess her love openly, this implies that the lover will have to wait endlessly for the fulfilment of his love. In the triplum the lover has just fallen in love for the first time and is uncertain about the outcome of his courtship, but also here he is kept waiting and must serve faithfully with only a faint hope of his love being fulfilled in the future. This makes him exclaim, sighing, that ‘amer’ (to love) is ‘amer’ (bitter), a classic wordplay in courtly poetry; the sound and signification of those words correspond with that of the tenor word ‘Amara’ which is so similar in sound to ‘Amare’ (to love). Thus the motet deals not only with the beginning of love but also with its possible outcome, its ‘perfection’. Waiting for fulfilment and striving for perfection are the feelings which the three texts have in common, but in opposed ways, positive and negative, as a fundamental tension.


Jacques Boogaart


***********************STOP PRESS!!!!!!!!************************

The Complete Poetry and Music of Guillaume de Machaut Volume 1 is out now!!!!

Volume 1: The Debate Poems is now available in print.

You can also enjoy the entire volume online via the Middle English Texts Website.

Edited and translated by R. Barton Palmer, with art historical commentary by Domenic Leo, and musical commentary by Uri Smilansky, the volume contains  Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaigne, Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre, and Le Lay de Plour.




The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript

Full colour facsimile with introductory study by Lawrence Earp, Domenic Leo and Carla Shapreau. Preface by Christopher de Hamel

"It is a vast manuscript of royal luxury, 390 leaves of parchment, 314 mm. by 220 mm., illustrated with 118 enchanting miniatures by a workshop of court illuminators led by the Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy.They include pictures of gothic chivalry and romance, with mythology and natural history. Music is included on 235 pages of the manuscript, with almost the entire corpus of the ballades, lais and motets of Machaut, as well as his great polyphonic setting of the Mass, the four-part Messe de Nostre-Dame.The manuscript has never before been photographed in its entirety or reproduced in colour."

"Vol. 1 introductory study (225 pages colour/mono), vol. 2 facsimile (789 full colour pages) on 150gsm matt art paper. Full size reproduction, hard bound in buckram, presented in hard slipcover."

Available now from DIAMM Publications.

The Art of Grafted Song: Citation and Allusion in the Age of Machaut by Yolanda Plumley

Available now from Oxford University Press

"Presents the first detailed exploration of citational practices in the song-writing tradition of fourteenth-century France. The first monograph-length study on the Ars nova chanson with new evidence about the emergence of the new polyphonic chanson. Provides new evidence about the circle of poets and composers who engaged with Machaut and created a new style of poetry and song. Explores little studied collections of lyrics and songs of the period and provides fresh insights and perspectives on Machaut's works."