Sorting out the works of Gautier d’Espinal

Wikipedia’s list of Gautier’s works looked a bit thin to me, so I’ve edited the page (fingers crossed the edits persist!)

Epinal chateau2.jpg

This morning, first day of the Easter break, I decided to see how long it would take me to improve one of the Wiki trouvère pages. If I’d not been on sabbatical, I had a plan to make updating various trouvère Wiki pages one of the assessment tasks for a course I was going to teach. However, I am on sabbatical, so that’s not happening quite yet, but I’ll get back to the idea when I return to teaching in October 2018…

Meanwhile, I can report that initial updating of the Works List on the English language Wiki’s Gautier d’Espinal page took a couple of hours, so it represents a doable student task. Using my copy of Spanke’s 1955 version of Raynaud’s catalogue, I added RS numbers for the songs, included songs from Raynaud-Spanke that were not already on Wiki’s list (taken, it seems, from Karp’s article on the composer in Grove), and gave a list of MS sources, noting whether the sources had musical notation, empty staves, space for staves, or just text. I then added a few links to specific pages of MSS on Gallica, restricting myself (for the sake of time) to TrouvM, TrouvO, and TrouvU (for a list of links to these sources, see my earlier page). I plan to add other links later if I have the inclination and time. Hopefully, others might add such links now they can see how the works list might indeed become very clickable (and thus useful) if done in this way.

Gautier is an interesting composer to me because he is, it seems, local to Douce 308 (TrouvI), being based in Metz. (And that’s regardless of whether we agree with earlier identifications of him as ‘chevalier et seigneur de Ruppes’ or Lug’s identification of him as a clerk at Metz cathedral, a relative of the earlier identified person.) Douce 308 has three of his texts, copied anonymously, in the ‘grand chant’ section, and all three of these have concordances in the two other Metz song manuscripts, TrouvC (where all three are attributed to him) and TrouvU. Of these three songs, one, Se j’ai lonc tens amours servi (RS1082), cannot be provided with a melody because it only has text in TrouvU and Douce 308, and empty staves in TrouvC. Of the other two, Par son dous comandement (RS649) has a melody in TrouvU and Se par force de merci (RS1059) has a melody in TrouvO. This last song is the only one of the three in Douce 308 to appear outside the three Metz sources. I’ve no idea why that is, but it seems an interesting fact, although perhaps unsurprising since the other two Metz sources have the highest numbers of Gautiers songs, overall missing only four of the total of 22 that seem to be his.

TrouvC has the highest number of Gautier songs of any source, with a total of 17, of which 13 are attributed to him and four are transmitted anonymously. Sadly, this source has no music entered in its beautiful staves and nor is it (yet?!) available online. At some point I’m going to have to make a trip to Bern to see it — ach, Schade! Of the four Gautier songs that TrouvC transmits anonymously, three are only given attributions to Gautier in the Gautier section in TrouvM. This section, which has a run of ten songs, starts with four notated ones, and then provides staves without any notation entered for the remaining 6 songs. Of these six songs, four are transmitted only here in TrouvM and the two with concordances are not ascribed to him in any other sources. Whether this leads us to doubt his authorship of those six songs, I can’t say at this point, not having read the introductory discussions in the published editions of the poetry.

TrouvU, the earliest chansonnier, has 14 of Gautier’s songs, all anonymous, of which 9 are shared with those in TrouvC and one isn’t. This one is very widely copied, Commencement de douce saison bele (RS590=RS1328), although it is only attributed to Gautier in TrouvM; The related KPNX group of sources (here, excluding TrouvP, which does not give an attribution) attribute it to the Chastelain de Couci.

After I’d adjusted the Works List, I tweaked the introduction to allow for the larger number of works and I added a short discography which I took from the French version of the page, which has far more detail overall. A good student updating this page as part of an assessment, might well lift some of that text and translate it, as well as adding more recent bibliography, such as that dealing with Gautier’s interest in magnets.

Meanwhile, here’s a link that Wiki won’t allow, to Ensemble Syntagma’s version of Desconfortés et de joie parti (RS1073):

Review of book on Trecento song texts

My review of  Lauren McGuire Jennings’s book on Trecento song texts has just been published.
Many of you can get this through your library if it gets JRMA, in which case please use these links:

Elizabeth Eva Leach
Journal of the Royal Musical Association

Volume 140, Issue 2 pp. 445-449 | DOI: 10.1080/02690403.2015.1089022

Taylor and Francis, who publish JRMA, have given me at link to the full text, which is restricted to 49 downloads. Please only download this text if you’re really going to read the review. When the 49 downloads are done, I’m assuming that the link will no longer work and/or you’ll be asked for money. The link is here: Free download (49 copies only)

Putting a tune to a tuneless song

Gace song in N

Gace’s melody in MS N

The fifth song in the grands chants is unique to Douce 308 and is thus transmitted to us without any melody. However, its versification makes it possible to sing it to the tune of a song with a similar poetic structure. Continue reading

Douce 308 complete images now online!

Dead peacock

Porrus kills Fezonas’s peacock in the first item in Douce 308, The Vows of the Peacock. Image, Bodleian Library.

The first thing promised as part of my Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship is now done.

The complete images of the manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 308 are now online. The photography is funded by part of the Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship that I was awarded for 2015-18 specifically to write a book on this source and what it might tell us about the culture(s) of vernacular song in the few decades either side of 1300.

Many thanks to the Bodleian Library for their great efficiency in getting this done in time for the project start date (1 Oct 2015), which will mean I can get going straight away. I was interested to be asked whether I actually wanted to withhold the open-access web-mounting of the images until after I’d written my book. While I’m glad they asked, I think anyone’s going to ‘beat me’ to saying exactly what I would say about it, and my general view is the more the merrier on people using these images and finding things to say about this wonderful and complex source. I certainly won’t exhaust it!

I’m looking forward to blogging bits and pieces of interesting stuff as I go along.

At the Medieval Academy of America Annual Conference 2015

EEL opening plenaryI was honoured to be invited to give the opening Plenary lecture at the MAA annual meeting, this year held at the University of Notre Dame in the US. Continue reading