Early Music History

Research Article

The polyphonic rondeau c. 1300: Repertory and context*

Mark Everista1

a1 University of Southampton

Any explanation of the emerging polyphonic chanson in the years before 1330 must negotiate varied repertories and compositions. One of the central genres in such a study would be the polyphonic rondeau. It is characterised by a musico-poetic structure more or less analogous to the rondeau of the later fourteenth century, but also by three-part music – mostly syllabic, note-against-note – that is copied in score. Our view of these sorts of compositions is dominated by the works of Adam de la Halle, whose sixteen score-notated polyphonic settings of vernacular lyrics are preserved in a manuscript now in the Bibliothèque Nationale (F-Pn), MS fr. 25566.


* Earlier versions of this article were read at the Humboldt Universität, Berlin, June 1994, and at a Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Music, Glasgow, July 1994. It forms part of larger study of the emergence of polyphonic song in the early fourteenth century. The sources that might be considered in such a study were outlined in M. Everist, ‘The Origins of Polyphonic Song II: Sources and Repertories’, colloquium, King's College London, 19 October 1988, and some methodological problems were adumbrated in Everist, ‘The Origins of Polyphonic Song I: Citation, Motet, Rondeau’, Colloque: La musique à Avignon au XIVe siècle, Abbaye de Royaumont, 8–12 July 1988. I am grateful to Margaret Bent, Lawrence Earp and Sylvia Huot for reading drafts of this article and for their comments on the text.