Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377) was a French poet and composer credited with hundreds of compositions. Born in Champagne, France he was one of the few composers of his time who was also a poet and his work has earned great repertoire with famous poets imitating his work including Geoffrey Chaucer. His work helped the Ars Nova which had a new and more detailed rhythmic sound. He was also a master when he used the already established notations. In his use, he made changes that allowed for his compositions to have a personal feel to them and for them to come out as more theatrical (Earl 95). His works was dominated by themes of classical love which incorporated with the dramatic lives that his characters led. Although he used the basic formats to make his compositions, he’s work was different in that the changes he made such as the rhyme made his work one of the most revered in the medieval time and this gave it a timeless feel. His compositions have had great influence on many past and present composers.
His compositions have been preserved to present times with a record of 400 compositions. His work dominated much of the 14th century with several duplicates made and distributed across Europe. As a musical composer he is credited with the development of the motet. The motet is part of the polyphonic which translates torefer to the words that are added to spoken lines. Usually a religious arrangement, it meant to be sung in church and this was especially in the Catholic or the Anglican Church (Leech-Wilkinson 51). Machaut extended this form to include as secular feel to it by incorporating the Ars Nova which was more upbeat than its predecessor the Ars Antiqua and dominated with more freedom as opposed to this old form of art.
“Puisqu’enoubliSui de vous” translated to mean ‘Since I Am Forgotten by You’ was composed in 1363. Machaut wrote the poem for a lost love Peronne with whom he ended a relationship after years of exchanging poems and letters but their difference in age proved to be an obstacle that had them end their relationship after many disappointments. Thesong, since I am forgotten by you, is in a forlorn tone. The song is made of two parts and it has a vocal notation. The two parts of the song have a very low pitch. The song is set as a Rondeauwhich is one of the many music forms found in the 14th century. It is a form of medieval French musical based on its poetic form.it involves repetition of its verses and the refrain. Rondeaux have an alliteration of 8 to 21 lines.
The song, since I am forgotten has 8lines; the first and the second line of the poem- Since I am forgotten by you my sweet friend; I say farewell to the life of love and joy- are the chorus and is again used in line 7 and 8. Line one is also set as line four. This is a heartfelt song whose predominant theme is that of love. It is a secular piece and it easy to tell the author Machaut mourns of a lost love. It is in a polyphonic chanson genre;
This is in in three voices. The capital letters in the genre are used to show the parts that are repeated in the piece a common feature with Rondeaux. The lower case parts are used to show repetition of the music without that of the words but instead there is the introduction of new words/text. The song is written in such a way that it can have the use of three voices or of one voice accompanied by musical instruments. While it is a sad song, it features rhymes that flow easily.
The isorhythmic motets emerged in the 14th and the 15th centuries which were made famous by Machaut and de Vitry. An Isorhythmis a principle that was developed in French 14th century whose rhythmic texture was characterized by an extension the first part of the piece to the whole piece. The term came about in the 1900 coined by Friedrich Ludwig. Unlike the previous motet of the 13th century that involved a less structural application, the 14th century motet had a distinct pattern to its rhythm even having a dance connotation especially with the masterful skill of Machaut.
The motet was grown form an early French musical form in the 13th centurywhich was known as the conductus. This form of music was composed of a plain chart section which came to be known as the tenor and had independent parts that were either two or more. The independent parts were known as duplum, triplem, and quadruplem depending on the number of parts. Many motets that were present in the medieval French were secular in nature with many of the compositions done by Machaut. However, there was a presence of Latin sacred compositions which took precedence in much of the 13th century (Leech-Wilkinson 64).A majority of his work is set in the Latin tenor but is set in French texts.
These motets were characterized by repeated rhythms and patterns of the notes. By using the Ars Nova technique, all the notes in the isorhythmic motet have life of their own on their texts. It was composed for three voices but could also be performed using instruments. De vitry is credited with the emergence of the isorhythmic motet but it is Machaut who is more recognized for this technique due to the mass of compositions he made both of poems and made many of these into songs. Motets were of polyphonic and were composed for three voices.
The motet Quant en moy, Amour etbiaute, Amara valde is an isorhythmic motet in three voices. It is set in a It is has been categorized as the M1. The piece is set in aisorhythmic tenor and semi-isorhythmictriplem. As in many of his motets this composition involves a relationship in texture of the upper parts in a melodic tenor. The song also has a distinct technique in its refrain with the use of hockets which are an attempt at developing echoes in between patters in an attempt to create a melodic pattern which give the piece an air of both humor and intellect. This piece is held in a tenor while the other two parts of the song are sung independently but end at the same time it is a technique that sees the three parts of the song play off each other. The two separate parts of the song are set in a polyphonic triplem.
Both of these performances are Isorhythmic. This is a word used to describe the rhythms in a piece which are repeated in a piece of music (Bent 102). The rhythm is referred to as the talea and the repetition is known as the color. This repetition is based up on the pitch given by the number of members in the rhythms. This practice was most evident in the 13th century and was made famous by composer de Vitry who used the Ars Nova technique.
Both pieces use repetition and they are made up of a few lines which are elaborate and coherent. They are both performed by three singers and although the first piece can be replaced by having one performer accompanied by instruments the same cannot be said for the second piece. Whilethey are both polyphonic in genre, the first piece is in the accompaniment range which consisted of one vocal and two instrumentals or could be performed as three vocals. Polyphonic style of composing was used in the early 14th century. It is meant to showcase a piece that is made of several textures of voice. In polyphonic pieces, musical lines are put together and this creates a melodic feel throughout the piece. It sees one line put against another each of the lines having its own texture and life and this combination brings to life a piece of music which creates a melodic interest throughout the piece.
The pieces are composed in the Ars nova form (Hoppins 78). Ars nova refers to new art a style that replaced the more rigid Ars Antiqua in the 14th century. With its development came the composition of secular music and poetry. This was mostly in France but records have shown its presence in Italy as well.This new form of art replaced the old art forms which were restrictive and did not allow for freedom of rhythm and movement or the composer s. It also saw the rise of multi- part songs a trend which was not common in the Ars Antiqua era. Although de Vitry is credited with the development of the new art form, it is Machaut who has dominated the era with great compositions of songs and poems both secular and sacred.
Before the onset of the Ars Nova, music especially in the church was done by the use of chants in a monophonic manner. Controversy emerged when secular tunes made way in to the church sacred songs and this struck offence at the thought of secular tunes replacing the sacred one within the church texts.
The music created in the era ofArs Nova gave more style to its predecessor era and was devoid of all the limitations of the ArsAntiqua. Secular music gained much of the quality of sacred music and thispaved way for the presence of new techniques and forms of music. The emergence of secular music and the changes that came about with it gave the music a greater form of expression a technique that has been likened to perspective found I paintings.