The Latin-texted motets of Guillaume De Machaut


Montefu, Jennette Lauren. (2003). The Latin-texted motets of Guillaume De Machaut [Thesis].
AuthorsMontefu, Jennette Lauren
Qualification nameMaster of Music (MMus)

Guillaume de Machaut's motets constitute a cycle. This study focuses upon Machaut's six Latin texted motets and their influence upon these cyclical contexts. Former research into these motets has uncovered references to contemporary poetry, liturgical texts, literary sources, particular persons, and historical events. Through an examination of recent research into the cyclical nature of the motets it is possible to critically evaluate these hypotheses in the light of the past historical, codicological, liturgical, musical and poetic analysis of these works to create a rounded picture of each motet. In this way it was found that many of the previously researched aspects of the motets follow in line with recent theories surrounding motet grouping structures. In this way when placing these works within a mystical theological literary context their sacred nature, evident within the tenor chant fragments upon which many of them are built, becomes evident and a greater plan apparent. Beyond this, with an examination of Machaut's life and the events which occurred in his lifetime the context for composition of the remaining motets is unearthed. Within these motets elements have now been identified which link them to Machaut's canonries at both Saint Quentin and Reims as well as the events of the Hundred Years' War. In this way the deep connection between Machaut's motets and all levels of his life is becoming increasingly apparent. Through an examination of these six Latin texted motets it is found that a liturgical context is key to the analysis of all voices. This is apparent in the mere use of vocabulary idiomatic to the liturgy present within these texts. In this way the selection of words within motet 21 points to a Marian allusion and the apocalyptic, drawing motet 21 even closer in context to motets 22-23. This apocalyptic reference is also seen in specific words within in triplum text of motet 22.;Furthermore, the Marian allusions discovered throughout these last three motets in their upper voices are apparent only with a close examination of the Salve Regina texts. In this way the influence and importance of liturgical context to the analysis of the motet has been extended to all voices. This study has also uncovered allusions to other fourteenth century works in the analysis of Machaut's motets. In the case of motet 9 a connection between its chant tenor and another from the Roman de Fauvel reveals a political context which brings an added richness to the interpretation of these texts. Furthermore, as with motets 18-19, it may be gleaned that as Machaut and Vitry were both canons at Saint Quentin that perhaps it was here and with these two motets that Machaut began his tutelage with the older master of the motet. These conclusions may be drawn by the striking similarities between Machaut's works and those believed to have originated from within the Vitry circle. In the course of this study there have been additions to evidence the necessity of looking to all aspects of Guillaume de Machaut's motets in their analysis. This includes use of numerical symbolism in varying aspects as shown in motet 9 as well as a thorough exploration of Machaut's use of vocabulary within his texts to find its literary, historical, motet, and liturgical allusions. The identification of these sources may either serve to reinforce or expand the context of the motet leading to a deeper understanding of its purpose within a group of motets or individually.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupSchool of Arts
Final version
Publication dates30 Jul 2003
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