Sunday, October 29, 2006

Guillaume De Machaut

After a 3 day visit to Minneapolis Minnesota, and its neighboring towns and cities, I have returned to my little black laptop computer, my potted plant, and some Bailey's on ice. Palestrina's week in the limelight has passed, and now I find myself listening to the spare, and very different, Messa de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut. He was composing in France in the 14th century, and was apparently the most prominent figure of the French Ars Nova - a musical movement in France that consisted essentially of 14th century music and its innovations. It sounds quite different than Palestrina's Misse. I can't quite describe it - it's clear that Machaut's music was much earlier. It is polyphony in its youth - healthy and strong, but simple. The picture below, an early illustration for a manuscript of his music, depicts Nature giving a gift to Machaut: her three children, Sense, Rhetoric, and Music.

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