a1 University of Southampton
The appearance of a consistent repertory of polyphonic settings of single vernacular texts, governed by a coherent set of conventions and a shared understanding of compositional ambition, was one of the lasting achievements of the composers of the fourteenth century. Although fully formed products of this accomplishment did not emerge until the century’s fourth decade, the concept of the marriage of a single vernacular poem to the type of polyphonic music previously associated with the caudae of conducti, clausulae and polytextual motets had by then been a topic for exploration for at least fifty years. It is not too much to claim that the period from Adam de la Halle to Guillaume de Machaut saw a series of changes in the relationship between vernacular poetry and polyphony that had consequences for the history of music at least up to and probably beyond Le nuove musiche (1601).
This article is based on a paper presented to the Seminar on Medieval and Renaissance Music, All Souls College, Oxford, 30 October 2003. I am grateful to Margaret Bent for the invitation to contribute to the seminar and to the individuals who contributed to the discussion. In addition to those cited in the footnotes to the text, I would like to thank Margaret Bent, Lawrence Earp, James Grier, Elizabeth Eva Leach, David Maw and Yolanda Plumley, who read the article in draft and offered many useful suggestions.