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Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music: Sweetly divided: Analytical propositions and problems for the thirteenth-century jeu-parti

Joseph Mason, University of Oxford


Thursday, 16 November - 5:00pm to 7:00pm



Abstract: In thirteenth-century French debate songs, known as jeux-partis, poets frequently dwell on the divided nature of their songs. The poetry of a jeu-parti is divided by a dilemma question, which is debated by two trouvères. Division can also be seen in the tonal structure of jeu-parti melodies. This paper presents the findings of a systematic survey of normative melodic practice in the jeu-parti. Drawing on Hepokoski and Darcy's influential concept of norms and deformations (2006) and debates on tonal norms in fourteenth-century song, I suggest what the tonal norms of the jeu-parti might have been. I also consider the problems of applying the model of norms and deformations to a corpus whose melodies can be agonistically and, on occasion, violently divided.