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Reviewed by:
  • Citation and Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Culture: Learning from the Learned
  • Jason Stoessel
Citation and Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Culture: Learning from the Learned. Edited by Suzannah Clark and Elizabeth Eva Leach (Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music, 4.) Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2005. [xxxii, 260p. ISBN 1-84383-166-X. $105.00] Bibliography, music examples, index.

Fourth in the series entitled Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music from Boydell Press, this Festschrift honors Margaret Bent on her sixty-fifth birthday. It is a fitting tribute to a scholar whose generosity to generations of researchers is matched by the depth of her scholarship and dedication to the discipline of musicology. This collection's sixteen essays on subjects in music and music theory of Western Europe from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries are arranged in approximately chronological order divided into three sections: "The Tradition of Music Theory," "Vitry and Machaut," and "Influence, Models and Intertextuality." The essays are preceded by an introduction by the editors and a list of selected publications by Margaret Bent. Like others in this series, this volume's production standard is high and editorial rigor has ensured its overall very good quality of presentation. Inconsistencies in the typesetting of music examples from chapter to chapter might distract some readers but all are well formatted and, especially in the case of Theodor Dumitrescu's diplomatic examples, effective.

Several common threads run through the essays in this collection. Foremost for this reviewer is the issue of intertextuality, although examinations of different repertories and practices are for the most part articulated through more commonplace (and perhaps less controversial) terms like citation, authority, types (topoi), borrowing, adoption, and models. John Milsom's essay "'Imitatio,' 'Intertextuality,' and Early Music," though found at the beginning of the last section of the volume, is perhaps the most thought-provoking and important contribution for framing the issues at the heart of this volume. Observing that recent studies of intertextuality in early music have tended towards definitions based upon intentional borrowing, Milsom adopts a definition of intertextuality dependent in part on Kevin Brownlee's spectrum of apparent intentionality ("Literary Intertextualities in 14th-century French Song," in Musik als Text: Bericht über den Internationalen Kongreß der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, Freiburg im Breisgau 1993, ed. Hermann Danuser and Tobias Plebuch [Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1998], pp. 295–99). In doing so, Milsom confronts cases of intertextuality where, in Brownlee's terms, "intentionality is much less clearly visible." Although not signaled in the essay, Milsom's positioning of contrapuntal "grammar" in fifteenth-century canonic writing as intertextual process resonates with Robert Hatten's use of style and compositional strategy as regulators of musical intertextuality ("The Place of Intertextuality in Music Studies," The American Journal of Semiotics 4 [1985]: 69–78).

Greater emphasis on the other end of Brownlee's spectrum of intentionality is witnessed in the two essays in this volume concerning the motets of Philippe de Vitry. Leofranc Holford-Strevens' essay humorously entitled "Fauvel Goes to School" examines citations of classical authorities in the text of motets by de Vitry and others found in the musical interpolations to the Roman de Fauvel. Although some concession is granted to florelegia as sources of proverbial phrases in the Middle Ages, Holford-Strevens argues that uses of classical models in a new context often rely on a greater understanding of the narrative context of the original. Andrew Wathey, in his "Authoritas and the Motets of Philippe de Vitry," argues that florelegia provided the impetus for the transmission of classical text models in de Vitry's motets. At the same time, Wathey suggests that the existence of a learned culture possessing minds capable of ingesting in an orderly fashion large quantities of texts, rather than the consultation of florelegia, facilitated the circulation of lines of classical texts in medieval culture. For those familiar with the scholarship of Mary Carruthers (The Book of Memory [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992]), Wathey's hypothesis is tantalizing in assessing the role of memory in intentional and less-intentional acts (through unreflective reference).

Kevin Brownlee's own contribution to this volume, "Fire, Desire, Duration, Death: Machaut's Motet...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-150X
Print ISSN
0027-4380
Pages
pp. 590-593
Launched on MUSE
2007-02-20
Open Access
No
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