Plainsong and Medieval Music


Phrasing in medieval song: perspectives from traditional music

Warwick Edwardsa1

a1 University of Glasgow

During the course of a series of articles relating medieval Italian songs to oral and unwritten traditions, Nino Pirrotta comments on a peculiar anonymous two-voice setting from the fourteenth century whose verses seem to have been broken and shattered by the music. Word repetition ‘does not result in a more effective or more understandable rendition of the text; on the contrary, it so fragments and stutters it that any meaning is lost, except as a pretext for the melody which submerges it’. The song in question, Dolce lo mio drudo, is part of a group of unica with Calabrian associations found in the oldest layer of the Reina manuscript. Pirrotta transcribes the song in full and analyses the text and its cognates in detail. It is a ballata with irregularities. I quote in Example 1 just the refrain, together with an indication of the syllable count, in order to facilitate comparison with what follows.