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Adapting the motet(s)? The case of Hé bergier in Oxford MS Douce 308

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2019



The present article seeks to further recent discussion of the diversity of the motet in the long thirteenth century by considering a specific, rather unusual example of motet-related materials in a songbook. It examines a two-stanza pastourelle in the songbook that forms part of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 308, and its connection to a network of related materials in various thirteenth-century motet sources. In so doing, it proposes the ostensibly unlikely scenario that this monophonic song derives from two separate motets that may already have been linked through their shared tenor and possibly also performed together in some way. This article brings the important conclusions of Fred Büttner in regard to these materials to Anglophone scholarship, while nuancing his reasoning in light of more recent scholarly work on thirteenth-century motets copied in songbooks.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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My work on D308 has been generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I thank Catherine A. Bradley for her valuable contributions to this article.

The manuscript sigla used in this article relate to RISM sigla as follows:Ba.

D-BAs Lit. 115


F-Pn n.a.f.13531


GB-Ob Douce 308


F-MO H 196.


F-Pn lat. 15139.


F-Pn fr.845


F-Pn fr.847


F-Pn fr.12615


F-Pn fr.1050


D-W Cod. Guelf. 1099 Helmst.


1 See, in particular, Huot, Sylvia, Allegorical Play in the Old French Motet: The Sacred and Profane in Thirteenth-Century Polyphony (Stanford, CA, 1997)Google Scholar.

2 Bradley, Catherine A., ‘Re-workings and Chronological Dynamics in a Thirteenth-Century Latin Motet Family’, Journal of Musicology, 32 (2015), 153–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar; eadem, ‘Contrafacta and Transcribed Motets: Vernacular Influences on Latin Motets and Clausulae in the Florence Manuscript’, Early Music History, 32 (2013), 1–70; eadem, ‘New Texts for Old Music: Three Early Thirteenth-Century Latin Motets’, Music & Letters, 93 (2012), 149–69.

3 For example, Saint-Cricq, Gaël, ‘A New Link Between the Motet and Trouvère Chanson: The Pedes-cum-cauda Motet’, Early Music History, 32 (2013), 179223CrossRefGoogle Scholar; idem, ‘Motets in Chansonniers and the Other Culture of the French Thirteenth-century Motet’, in A Critical Companion to Medieval Motets, ed. Jared Hartt (Woodbridge, 2018), 225–42; Leach, Elizabeth Eva, ‘The Genre(s) of Medieval Motets’, in A Critical Companion to Medieval Motets, ed. Hartt, Jared (Woodbridge, 2018), 1542Google Scholar; and Thomson, Matthew P., ‘Building a Motet around Quoted Material: Textual and Musical Structure in Motets Based on Monophonic Songs’, in A Critical Companion to Medieval Motets, ed. Hartt, Jared (Woodbridge, 2018), 243–60Google Scholar.

4 The best current description is found in Alison Stones, Gothic Manuscripts 1260–1320, 2 vols., A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France (London, 2013–14), 2.1: 41–53 (catalogue no. IV-10).

5 Saint-Cricq, ‘Motets in Chansonniers and the Other Culture’; Butterfield, Ardis, ‘Enté: A Survey and Re-Assessment of the Term in Thirteenth and Fourteenth-Century Music and Poetry’, Early Music History, 22 (2003), 67101CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 MV (standing for ‘motet voice’) is followed by the number that identifies the text in the catalogues of Ludwig, Friedrich, Repertorium organorurn recentioris et motetorum vetustissimi stili (Halle / Saale, 1910)Google Scholar and van der Werf, Hendrik, Integrated Directory of Organa, Clausulae, and Motets of the Thirteenth Century (Rochester, NY, 1989)Google Scholar. RS gives the number of the poem in the catalogue of Spanke, Hans, G. Raynaud's Bibliographie des altfranzösische Liedes, neu bearbeitet und ergänzt (Leiden, 1955)Google Scholar.

7 In its four-part version, this motet has been discussed extensively in Page, Christopher, ‘Around the Performance of a Thirteenth-Century Motet’, Early Music, 28 (2000), 343–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 The variant ‘t'amie’, found only in the first stanza of the version in D308, does not need correcting, since the knight is still addressing the shepherd and is therefore adjusting the pronouns of his reported speech to make it fit. Such flexibility in otherwise unchanging refrains is relatively common in pastourelle texts.

9 It is vdB659; the number refers to the listing in Nico van den Boogaard, Rondeaux et refrains du XIIe siècle au début du XIVe, Série D: Initiation, textes, et documents (Paris, 1969).

10 On the issue of whether such non-concordant refrains are chimerical or real, see, for example, Everist, Mark, French Motets in the Thirteenth Century: Music, Poetry and Genre (Cambridge, 1994), 5471Google Scholar; Butterfield, ‘Enté’; Saltzstein, Jennifer, The Refrain and the Rise of the Vernacular in Medieval French Music and Poetry (Woodbridge, 2013), 834Google Scholar.

11 The function of refrains as stand-alone musico-poetic items has to be deduced from their interpolation into narratives. The verisimilitude of the Tournoi de Chauvency, a narrative poem bound with the songbook in D308 chronicling a multi-day tournament festivity that took place in 1285, implies courtiers used refrains to accompany their movement between tournament field and castle, as well as for playful exchange, often involving dancing, after dinner.

12 It is found among the two-part motets in Mo, fascicle 6, split between the beginning and end of the upper voice of Mo, no. 213, which is also on the EIUS tenor in the reverse rhythm of the tenor associated with Hé bergier. It also occurs at the end of Cest quadruble sans reison (MV799), the quadruplum of Mo, no. 30, a four-part piece in fascicle 2, where it occurs simultaneously with refrains in the other voices in which a lover asking when he will sleep ‘between the sweet arms’ of his lady and a lady berates the baseness of a lover whose embrace was wicked. On refrains found only within the motet repertoire as a special subcategory of intertextual refrain, see Saltzstein, The Refrain and the Rise of the Vernacular, 60–8.

13 Although the page (fol. 197r) was set up with enough space for the entire text, the text scribe has omitted line 8 and filled out what is now too much space with a big gap after ‘toi’ at the end of line 10 (middle of third system) and an even bigger gap after ‘braz’ in line 12 (middle of fourth system). Nonetheless, the single final syllable ‘-mie’ sits alone at the start of the fifth system and is followed by an extravagant blue decoration to occupy the rest of the space and, presumably, to instruct the scribe ruling the staves that the entire width of the page should be ruled. The music scribe stopped copying the melody after getting to the point where the exemplar had line 8, realising there was a line of text missing in Mo as compared to the exemplar. Perhaps the scribe intended to come back (there would have been room to supply the missing line after the end of this voice part) but never got round to it.

14 On this text in particular, see Büttner, Fred, Das Klauselrepertoire der Handschrift Saint-Victor (Paris, BN, lat. 15139): Eine Studie zur mehrstimmigen Komposition im 13. Jahrhundert (Lecce, 2011), 230Google Scholar; on W2 in general, see Bradley, ‘Contrafacta and Transcribed Motets’, passim.

15 Büttner, Das Klauselrepertoire der Handschrift Saint-Victor, 228–32.

16 Ibid., 231.

17 This refrain, vdB1424, is found in two of the six surviving copies of one widely copied chanson avec des refrains, ‘L'autrier par un matiniet / Erroie’ (RS962; copies in TrouvN and TrouvP), in refrain song by Robert de Reims found only in TrouvX, ‘L'autrier de jouste un rivage’ (RS35), and in a longer poem with interpolated refrains, D'amours et de jalousie preserved only in F-Pn fr.19152, fol.110v–112v. None of these four sources has musical notation.

18 This is one of the basic arguments in Bradley, ‘Contrafacta and Transcribed Motets’; the conclusions reached in Saint-Cricq, Gaël, ‘Transmitting a Compositional Process: Two Thirteenth-Century Motets’, Musica Disciplina, 58 (2013), 327–49Google Scholar, at 344, give a further example of the lack of congruence between the relative dates of manuscripts and the pieces contained in them.

19 Büttner, Das Klauselrepertoire der Handschrift Saint-Victor, 231. Somewhat puzzlingly, Büttner (230) sees Hé sire as the reply of a shepherdess, as opposed to the shepherd of the second stanza of D308's text, although this is not supported by the text.

20 Ibid., 231.

21 On scattered clusters in TrouvT, see Saint-Cricq, Gaël, Doss-Quinby, Eglal, and Rosenberg, Samuel N., eds., Motets from the Chansonnier de Noailles, Recent Researches in the Music of the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance 42 (Middleton, WI, 2017)Google Scholar, xx; on the compilation of D308 from small sources, see Robert Lug, ‘Common Exemplars of U and C’, Schweizer Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft (forthcoming).

22 Büttner, Das Klauselrepertoire der Handschrift Saint-Victor, 232: ‘kaum ernsthaft als brauchbares Triplum für den zweistimmigen Unterbau aus “Eius”-Tenor und “E Bergier”-Motetus’.

23 I thank Catherine A. Bradley for pointing out the significance of the alphabetic context here and discussing with me the possibilities advanced in the present and following paragraph.

24 See Ludwig, Repertorium, I / 1, 201.

25 The former is additionally preceded by Noine sanz amor / Noine qi a cuer / ET SUPER where the second ‘Noine’ should be ‘Moine’, an understandable mistake (or choice?) in the context of a run of pieces with matched opening motetus and triplum letters.

26 See Gaël Saint-Cricq, ‘Formes types dans le motet du XIIIe siècle: étude d'un processus répétitif’, Ph.D. diss., University of Southampton (2009); Matthew P. Thomson, ‘Interaction between Polyphonic Motets and Monophonic Songs in the Thirteenth Century’, D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford (2016); Leach, ‘The Genre(s) of Medieval Motets’; Bradley, Catherine A., ‘Choosing a Thirteenth-Century Motet Tenor: From the Magnus liber organi to Adam de la Halle’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 72 (2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, forthcoming.

27 The potential that the Par un matinet triplum originally carried the ‘Hé sire’ text in a three-part version now lost to us is not only untenable because it would be unprecedented but also because the phrase structure of the former and the versification of the latter are antithetical.

28 See the comments in Bradley, ‘Contrafacta and Transcribed Motets’, 70; on D308 see Leach, ‘The Genre(s) of Medieval Motets’. Büttner also sees the P56 second stanza as newly accentuating the pastourelle character of the motet by giving the shepherd's reply. For him, this is different from the motet version of ‘Hé sire’, which in his view presents the voice of the shepherdess (see n. 19 above).

29 Büttner, Das Klauselrepertoire der Handschrift Saint-Victor, 228–32. I would also argue with Büttner's wish to see the alternative Latin text as unrelated to the French motetus (see my comments above), although, again, I agree with him that it is later than the French version.

30 The latter would lead to the monophonic song being seen as a way of presenting the polyphony and polytextuality of the motet in a musically comprehensible way, akin to the performance of individual motet voices separately suggested in Page, ‘Around the Performance of a Thirteenth-Century Motet’.

31 Bradley, ‘Contrafacta and Transcribed Motets’, 18, n. 57, for other examples.

32 Similar differences occur between the original and later textings of Error popularis and Fole acostumance (see ibid., 8–20, especially music example 1, pp. 12–15), where they are contrafacts in different languages. But this technique can be seen as analogous to writing another stanza to an existing motet text, even in the same language.

33 See, for example, Grau, Anna Kathryn, ‘Thematic Clusters and Compilational Strategies in Montpellier 8’, in The Montpellier Codex, The Final Fascicle: Contents, Contexts, Chronologies, ed. Bradley, Catherine A. and Desmond, Karen (Woodbridge, 2018), 124–31Google Scholar on the case of Balam inquit (MV594) / Balam inquit (MV594) / BALAAM and Huic ut placuit (MV595) / Huic ut placuit (MV595) / [HUIC MAGI] and the surrounding cluster in Mo.

34 Saint-Cricq et al., eds., Motets from the Chansonnier de Noailles, xxviii.

35 In particular, chapters 1, 3 and 5 of Catherine A. Bradley, Polyphony in Medieval Paris: The Art of Composing with Plainchant (Cambridge, 2018): Bradley argues strongly for shared modelling and conventions as well as a general mutual awareness of other motets within tenor families. See also other studies tracing shared tenor sources, for example, Dolores Pesce, ‘Beyond Glossing: The Old Made New in Mout me fu grief / Robin m'aime / Portare’, in Hearing the Motet: Essay on the Motet of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Dolores Pesce (Oxford, 1991), 28–51, and eadem, ‘Montpellier 8 PORTARE Motets and Tonal Exploration’, in The Montpellier Codex, The Final Fascicle, 233–53. For a study that additionally notes shared upper-voice traits in motets linked by tenor source, see Anne Ibos-Augé, ‘… Que ne dit “cief bien seans”: Quoting Motets in Montpellier 8’, in The Montpellier Codex, The Final Fascicle, 211–30.

36 Saint-Cricq, ‘Transmitting a Compositional Process’, 341. Notably, one of the two motets Saint-Cricq discusses is on the FLOS FILIUS EIUS tenor and becomes increasingly pastourelle-like in genre, and the other shares its opening material with a monophonic pastourelle.

37 This is regardless of whether the tenor is identified as EIUS or as DOMINO.

38 For example, the motetus voice ‘Donés sui sans repentir’ (MV683) unique in Mo (where it has the triplum ‘Las, por qu'acointai’ (MV682)) is sung in a motet in which the EIUS tenor is identical musically with DOMINO as used for the motetus voice ‘Hyer main, trespensis d'amors’ (MV750) in W2. Could both motetus parts be sung together – with or without the triplum of the Mo version – and sustain musical or poetic readings? Less exact but also potentially workable from the EIUS-tenor motets is the version of the tenor used by ‘Domino fidelium’ (MV753) and that for ‘Mater virgo’ (MV691), which are the same length and place the same pitches at the start of perfections (albeit the latter has the initial rhythm of breve–long–breve and the former long–breve–long). It should be noted that the latter motetus quotes the melody (but not the text) of the terminal refrain in Hé sire; see Leach, ‘The Genre(s) of Medieval Motets’, 40.

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