Margaret Bent

title.none: Page, Discarding Images: Reflections on Music and Culture

identifier.other: baj9928.9310.008 93.10.08

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Margaret Bent, Oxford University

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1993

identifier.citation: Christopher Page. Discarding Images. Reflections on Music & Culture in Medieval France. Oxford, 1993. Pp. xxiv + 222. ISBN: ISBN 0-198163-460.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 93.10.08

Christopher Page. Discarding Images. Reflections on Music & Culture in Medieval France. Oxford, 1993. Pp. xxiv + 222. ISBN: ISBN 0-198163-460.

Reviewed by:

Margaret Bent
Oxford University

N.B. letters with accents are lost: E'mile Ma^le, e'lite, etc. To be published in Early Music, November 1993

Christopher Page is a major force in early music today. He has given us recordings that advocate it with power and elegance to a wide audience. He has compellingly defended the all-vocal performance of medieval repertories against the charge of heresy, and fosters lively public debate and comment about performance and its context. He has given us richly documented and well written books that bring to musicologists the work of an expert reader of literature, and greatly enrich for the general reader the cultural context in which this music flourished. He offers in all these formats an eloquent response to the often heard call to make musical comment more accessible to the layman. The question of learned versus popular, lay versus professional reception, is indeed a central concern. Two previous books, packed with learning, information and stimulus, have borne the subtitles Instrumental Practice and Songs in France 1100-1300 and Musical Life and Ideas in France 1100-1300.1 In these and many shorter studies Page has contributed handsomely to our understanding of the place of music in medieval experience. This book continues into the fifteenth century and lacks the defining dates. Despite its subtitle, it reflects not so much on culture "in medieval France" but presents, in a series of essays, an extended and thoughtful polemic on current concerns of musical historiography relating to the later middle ages:It is the principal claim of this book that scholarship, musicology included, has long shown a tendency to homogenize and to monumentalize the 'medieval' period. This is done with the aid of certain mental schemes which, for all the ingenuity that may be deployed in acting upon them, are simple in themselves. I refer to antinomies such as efflorescence/decay, elite/popular, literate/non-literate, learned/unlearned and urban/rural, most of which will surface repeatedly in these chapters. No doubt these contrasts are essential, in some form, if we are to make any sense of what we find; I do not suggest that they be abandoned. My proposal — and much of this book is concerned to illustrate it — is that they sometimes lead to simplistic and stereotyped reasoning. (p. xvi)He continues: It is understandable that musicologists should have adopted the concept of a medieval period followed by a Renaissance ... The immense task of devising a history of musical forms and styles ... could not have been accomplished without the aid of categories borrowed from historians ... The polyphony of the Ars Antiqua, for example, has long been conceived in terms of themes such as systematization (the rhythmic modes), centrality (the Parisian region), and university learning ...... These themes reflect the entrenched view of the thirteenth century as the great age of the Gothic ... this is the Middle Ages we meet in the great tradition of medieval Emile Male and continued by Erwin Panofsky, Otto von Simson, and others. (p. xvii) This collection of concepts is developed in the first chapter, "Cathedralism", which is rooted out in the work of older musicologists including Tischler and Sanders in the form of "architectonic" analysis that presents the motet as "the reflection of a quintessentially Gothic mentality", a weak "view which regards collocation and aggregation as the essence of creation in the Gothic era" (23). That is one image to be discarded. The other (in the final chapter 5) is that of the "'waning' Middle Ages of the great Dutch historian Johan Huizinga", following whose lead "the secular polyphony of the fourteenth and even of the fifteenth century is apt to be regarded as an art of the Gothic in decline". He numbers Perkins, Wright, Strohm, Yudkin and Kemp 2 among those whose judgments have been slanted by The Waning of the Middle Ages, particularly in the case of Kemp and Perkins, to undervalue late-medieval culture.

These two outer chapters mark the goal-posts for the book, setting up models from outside musicology that are held responsible for various late medieval repertories having been judged either too artful or not artful enough. Three central chapters are: (2) The Rise of the Vernacular Motet; (3) Johannes de Grocheio, the Litterati, and Verbal Subtilitas in the Ars Antiqua Motet; and (4) Ars Nova and Algorism. They explore many aspects of contemporary and modern reception of the medieval motet, only some of which will be addressed here. 3 The book amounts to nothing less than a critique of medieval musicology viewed as if from outside. In that sense, Page's enterprise is not unlike that of Kerman's Musicology (1985) (published as Contemplating Music in the U.S.A.), though executed with tighter limitations, with more seriousness, and without Kerman's lack of sympathy for the middle ages or his plainly mischievous intent. Like Kerman, he tends to favour descriptive criticism rather than technical analysis, to generalise critically about what musicologists do and tell them what they should not be doing, and to give few approved models within musicology, leaving us to look to his own writing, here and elsewhere. Criticisms are delivered often obliquely and always elegantly. Sometimes the differences between what is approved and disapproved seem quite subtle. But above all, his love of medieval music shines through, and that is one of the great redeeming features.

He sets only limited value on what many musicologists are doing, and his sampling hardly yields a balanced or encouraging view of what the best musicologists are doing. He welcomes some recent work that challenges ideas of periphery and centre, conventional social patterns, and techniques of historical writing. These include discovery of the richness of English traditions, of a cultural context for Busnoys that includes women's history, and of an innovative format for narrative history (p. xviii-xix). He evidently approves of Bill Summers' review of two recent histories 4 as "a recent example of musicological revisionism" (p. xix, n.7). Summers advocates the use of manuscripts in facsimile and argues against the presentation of early music entirely though second-hand means (by which I assume he means the cultural translations represented by modern scores or recordings); he encourages enquiry into who wrote and sang the music, where and why, "the relationship between theorists and composers" and the "connective tissue of musical culture"; he goes on to repudiate the use of "romantic language" to characterise changes in medieval music, such as "inherent artistic advances" and "truly artistic polyphony". Few will disagree with these sensible and (without disrespect to Summers) established points, which hardly amount to "revisionism". The criticisms apply especially to general statements in general histories. Page gives us little sense of what he favours in sustained work by established scholars or challenges to received historiography, apart from John Stevens's Words and Music in the Middle Ages (1986), which under other circumstances might have been charged with Pythagoreanism. Many other scholars have long been working in these repertories with great historiographical, critical and musical subtlety. Why, for example, are Wulf Arlt and David Fallows not among the heroes? Page does offer some of his own critical writing about music, for example in discussing the thirteenth-century motet, and in responding to Kemp's "surprising omission" of a consideration of rondeau form "for it is on the grounds of (supposedly) stylized form that the musicologist is particularly well equipped to take issue with Huizinga" (p. 163). He considers the text of a Machaut rondeau to exemplify a rhetorical 'proposal', 'confirmation' and 'examination', in which "the final AB [refrain] simply has to happen" (p. 167). He then considers the music of a rondeau by Lebertoul which "fails the test" of his formal model on features that are "too strong", "too assertive", that "pall upon the third consecutive hearing". Velut's rondeau passes the test by opening the B section with a "conspicuous gesture". He concludes: "I have chosen somewhat impressionistic language ('incarnation' ..'new life') because something of that kind is necessary to convey how, in performance, the deep structure of the rondeau form is concerned with being the refrain and coming to be the refrain. Viewed in these terms, the rondeau can be seen as a marvellously well-judged form, and we may understand why it should have taken French composers more than a century to exhaust its artistic possibilities." (169) His preceding discussion does little to address the unique textual-musical bond of any particular rondeau. The individual piece is measured against the generality of unstated and possibly anachronistic aesthetic canons. 5 Why is it all right to demonstrate the dynamic structure of the rondeau as a form moving in time, but not of the dynamic structure of the gothic cathedral as a form moving in space, both of them subject to many different realisations of genre, style, conventions and detail, and to variations of date and place? Personal individuality is upheld against "cathedralist" notions of "medieval man", the immediacy of sounding music against a [Pythagorean] "medieval consensus", the autonomy of the medieval builder against a generalised view of the medieval cathedral: "What is so striking about the cathedrals of the Middle Ages, however, is that they are not in the least stylized; the tremendous diversity of design attests to the medieval architects' freedom from any detailed intellectual or symbolic schemes that clerics, working far from the mason's bench, might have wished to impose on them." (p. 2) If an analogy with music is intended here, it is a risky one, for the same distance between creators and consumers cannot be argued for music, and is surely overstated even for architecture. He quotes Sanders' subscription to the "numerus sonorus" that underlies music as evidence that he is "situating the art of composition within an intellectual and almost ascetic context which is no more convincing as an evocation of the actual human experience of composing in the Middle Ages than the invocation of 'medieval man' that introduces it" (p. 5). This highlights a conflict between the two discarded images, for, in their sharpest and most simplified formulations, avoidance of the one may incur the other, precisely the problem identified by Page in warning against simplistic application of oppositions. If "it seems that fifteenth-century composers cannot win", neither can the modern writer who is caught between a rock and a hard place. But also: "these two interpretations have much in common .... both conspire to diminish our sense of the humanity of medieval civilisation" (189-90). If another scholar had written about rondeau form without exploring, as Sanders does for the motet, the individuality of particular compositions, might he not have been charged with Cathedralism? In presenting the rondeau as a "well-judged" but stylised form, whose artistic possibilities were exhausted by the late fifteenth century, might not he be caught Waning, subscribing to the view that this was "not a time of preparation for a new growth of culture but rather one of overripeness and decay" (p. 147)? Taking the two rather different discarded images together, many will be unsure how they would fare under the litmus tests that Page applies (p. 187). Why, for example, is Bakhtin judged successful (rather than Huizinga-esque) in conveying "the tone of much medieval festivity" (p. 50) despite being "repetitive" and "almost without factual documentation", while the well documented first chapter of Strohm's Music in Late Medieval Bruges ("Townscape - Soundscape") is presented as being virtually cloned on Huizinga? Page compares Huizinga's and Strohm's characterisations of van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding without the crucial qualifying observation that the subject of the picture is not introduced cosmetically but is central to the manuscript discovery that impelled Strohm's study. Far from "recording ... that the chapter has been 'greatly influenced' by the writings of Huizinga" (p. 155), Strohm's footnote relates not to that chapter at all; it acknowledges the influence of Huizinga specifically with respect to a paragraph in the Preface on the conflicting impact of Reformation and Renaissance in Flanders. Strohm is careful in that paragraph to distance himself from certain historical assumptions underlying periodisation, with disclaimers about 'Renaissance' and 'Middle Ages': "the onus of explaining what is 'Renaissance' in music and what not is on those who decide to adopt the term" (p. v). He did not set out here to substantiate a historiographical thesis of his own or anyone else's, so why should it be surprising that he does not go on to adopt the stereotyped derogatory images ("he does not appear to find much evidence of a 'waning' or an 'expiring' medieval world in his own materials" (p. 156)) that alone could lay his main enterprise open to an allegation of historiographical dependency rather than stylistic homage? Such a charge does less than justice to the richer textures of Huizinga's thesis and indeed of Strohm's. Waning is not the only or indeed the most important message of Huizinga's work. Page's statements are based on Strohm's first chapter alone, and might have been qualified by the rest of the book. Insofar as general aspects of Huizinga's style are present in Strohm's effective evocation of a rich context for music, they seem to do just what Page himself advocates so well. I recall from The Owl and the Nightingale, for example: "the section on music, where we can almost smell the straw in the Rue de Fouarre where the examinations were often held, is entirely devoted to the De institutione musica of Boethius who is the only author mentioned", and the "pungent odour of Satan's presence" in "demonic encounters" that "intruded especially into the lives of those who taunted the Devil by their otherworldliness" (pp. 139, 184). Page is often a stylistic match for Huizinga in his use of "striking images, ..iteration, and .. the use of rhetorical skills" (p. 147); like Strohm, he too "expresses .. imaginings, controlled by scholarship, in a language that shares Huizinga's ability to rise to moments of verbal exaltation" (p. 156).

Others have identified Huizinga as a bench-mark for revision, some of whom are cited. Lee Patterson 6 opens his preface: "Huizinga's naive faith in objectivity set against Kierkegaard's disingenuous privileging of the individual — here are citations that figure two apparently exhausted modes of thought, two archaic discourses to be consigned to the ash heap of premodernist thinking. And yet for all their evident blindness, they also speak an inescapable truth. For they figure an opposition — or set of oppositions — that continues to haunt the historicist project." In his concise but well packed analysis of "The Development of Chaucer Studies" Patterson explores the opposition between the Exegetics (who have some common ground with "Cathedralists") and the New Critics, following a path that Page, refreshingly uncorrupted by fashionable critical methodologies, is loath to follow. This leaves Page little scope to propose fundamental alternative ideologies, so that many of his judgments operate at the level of surface style with respect to writing, and surface sound with respect to music. Insofar as the thesis rests on relationships between musicological, historical and critical philosophies, the ground is not laid sufficiently deeply, the real historiographical issues not defined.

Musicology has its own traditions, methods and blind spots as well as those borrowed from history and literary criticism. Probably more of those interrogated for their cultural politics were formed, directly or indirectly, by Besseler and Dahlhaus, Reese and Pirrotta, than by Male, Panofsky and Huizinga, whom musicologists are more likely to have read as general classics against which to measure the historical import of their judgments than as a basis for them. Page provides a salutary caution against platitudes and does good service in diagnosing some sources of those commonplaces so easily slipped into. Some musicologists, fearful that their matter-of-fact archival and analytical reports will be seen as positivistic, hasten to dress them up with plumes from the historical classics Page proposes to discard, and it is often such trappings that he seizes on in judging their work. In other cases, for example in citing Pirrotta's nuanced subscription to a "spiritual congruity and cultural continuity" between Notre Dame polyphony and "a Gothic cathedral", he does less than justice to a subtle argument by taking a phrase out of context, one that anyone might use. I share Page's regard for Ernest Sanders' 1967 essay on the Medieval Motet, whose incidental, cosmetic and qualified mentions of analogies with the Gothic cathedral in no way underpin his analyses or affect their purely musical validity.7 For Kemp and Wright, Page finds that scholarly judgments may have been angled towards preconceptions drawn from Huizinga, perhaps even fitted into a Huizinga model. As an archivally- based musicologist, Wright is in principle attempting something very different from Huizinga; he may have felt some obligation to frame his picture with an approved classic model. This surely is true of Kemp. But it is hard to see in some of these examples more than a ritual nod at the world outside musicology, the acknowledgment of a classic text as a point of orientation.

In the light of the medieval images discarded here, Page's own choices of vocabulary and periodisation are sometimes surprising. He retains the word medieval, even in his title, and talks of the middle ages as "happening". He subscribes to a medieval-renaissance boundary when some have already abandoned it. He uses architectural epithets for the Romanesque and Gothic centuries (p. 42). His singers are called Gothic Voices, a Cathedralist term he may now want to change. He ends the book with a splendidly exuberant affirmation that "the period 1100-1600 in the musical life of the West is so fertile and inventive that it seems all Renaissance from beginning to end". Quite so. It is time to challenge tired periodisations, but not so simple to replace them. One wonders if he is in fact exorcising his own formation on these discarded images, being far more enviably steeped in "medievalism" than most of the scholars whose work he discusses. If "Cathedralism goes too far" (pp. 41-42) so, perhaps, does a critique that will find it in any serious analysis. But now we come to the heart of the matter. The book "has been written because I could not reconcile the sound of much medieval music, and the aesthetic experience of hearing it, with some conventional judgements about its imaginative properties, its cultural meaning, or its intended audience" (p. xxi) — a bold enterprise, which accords to modern recreation of the sound of medieval music high authority as a basis for historical statements about medieval society, culture and aesthetics. I shall concentrate here on Page's discussions of the contribution of modern performance to the understanding of medieval music, and of the nature of the audience for certain sophisticated genres of medieval composition, notably the motet. He writes: The primary inspiration for these chapters has been provided by performance. The chance to hear medieval music in recorded performances is one of the most obvious ways in which the musicological opportunities available to the modern scholar exceed those of previous generations. Recordings are sometimes superseded by advances in knowledge, and are often vanquished by changes in taste, yet innovative or challenging performances can none the less disturb a wide range of preconceptions that we may unwittingly hold about the interest and scope of a repertory. ...the sound of medieval music, as interpreted today, has the power to influence our aesthetic and intellectual apprehension of the Middle Ages, just as a visual experience of paintings by van Eyck shaped the conceptions of a Johan Huizinga. (p. xx) The reluctance of some musicologists to draw upon the evidence (if it may be so called) of modern performance... (p. xxiii) sustained exposure to the sound of medieval music contributes to a vital sense of proportion (in the colloquial sense of those words), not only in the analysis of specific musical details but also in conceiving what the music may have meant (p. xxiv). These are major claims. "The sound of medieval music, as interpreted today" lacks the authority to inform us about anything so fragile and intangible as its aesthetic apprehension in its own time. It has power, but also danger. Indeed it influences the way we view the Middle Ages, but we should be aware when allowing it to do so that aesthetic and intellectual images so formed will in turn be discarded by the same cycle that now discards Male, Panofsky and Huizinga. Page acknowledges the biases we bring from our own time, and admits that tastes change. But it is our tastes that are informed by modern performances, our ears that we develop, not those of the Middle Ages. Of course we benefit enormously by having access to performances of the quality that Page and others regularly provide. Modern performance can help, but it can also mislead, because through it we are leaning on our musicianship rather than theirs. There is always a danger of drawing circular conclusions from particular styles of performance that emphasise some rather than other features of the music. Tempo, range, the use of male or female voices, the choice of solo or choral performance, the development of blend or contrast, homogeneity or colour, the projection of a popular or elite tone - all these could be quite perilous if used in turn to support claims about medieval contexts of performance, or if given the same weight as the musical identity that a piece of music keeps through extremely different performances. We can reconstruct some aspects of medieval pedagogy and musicianship by bringing their teachings to bear on their manuscripts; we can try to deal with those materials directly, if very incompletely, in the way that other dead languages are partially recovered and understood in their own terms. We can never become native speakers, but we can gain some technical fluency in different habits of musicianship, some sense of understanding from the inside. With the help of our own readings of the manuscripts used by our medieval colleagues, and through a wide range of professional performances, we can gain some sense of what in a piece of music survives all of these different, incomplete views. For modern audiences and scholarly convenience, the equivalent of literature in translation occupies a central place, if a necessarily flawed one, in this process of understanding. That is what all modern scores and performances are, and what Gothic Voices so admirably give us.

Van Eyck paintings still exist; the transient sounds of early music have vanished, as poignantly for us as for Isidore of Seville, who said that sounds perish because they can't be written down. Even allowing for physical change and deterioration, pictures and music cannot be compared as though the one were as palpable as the other. When Machaut heard his pieces (as he tells us he did), we can be sure they were not quite our own sound ideal; we might even have disliked the sound. Machaut might indeed have liked Gothic Voices, as Bach might have liked Glenn Gould. In distinguishing the notated essentials from their performative clothing, and exploring the softness of the line that divides them (as scholars do when investigating subjects such as ornamentation, variants, musica ficta, scoring, text-music relationship), any performance can be regarded only as one of many possible realisations. We may like the result; it may give aesthetic pleasure; it may be excitingly or competently performed; and it may respect performing constraints that we know to have been possible. But for all our work on musical texts and techniques, on performance practice and social context, we merely make music in performance with the raw materials of the notated substance. It is easy to be carried away, when that is well done, into imagining that the music we now perform sounds as they heard it. In the passages quoted here, Page appears to confine the aesthetic content of music, and the perception of its verbal and musical meaning, to what can be recovered by a listener in real time, from surface sound alone. Such a view risks failure to distinguish between the medieval and the modern components of that sound, and tends to discount the intellectual ingredient in the aesthetic experience of expert, prepared listeners and fellow performers. Whether one regards that ingredient as fundamental or as an enhancement of sensuous experience, structure and number are among the securely recoverable aspects of the music. If we ignore them, we make music with less than the available materials, and interpose more of ourselves as we strain to hear a still small gothic voice. Central to the discussion of audience is the late thirteenth-century theorist Johannes de Grocheio. Page gives a careful and fresh reading of his classification of musical genres, one of the most valuable portions of the book, which can now be complemented by his excellent text and translation of the relevant passages. 8 Grocheio's much-cited characterisation of motets as the preserve of litterati has been taken to imply that they were the preserve of an elite, of cognoscenti or "intellectuals". These terms have indeed been used too casually; I will certainly treat them with more care in future. Page translates the relevant passage: "This kind of music should not be set before a lay public because they are not alert to its refinement nor are they delighted by hearing it, but [it should only be performed] before the clergy and those who look for the refinements of skills". 9 After conceding "certainly an elitism in Grocheio's view of the audience for motets" he goes on to broaden that audience largely on the basis of motet verse, finding some thirteenth-century motets "more lyrical and recreative than intellectual" (p. 85), and that the lack of scholastic arguments in their texts points against associating them with a learned and predominantly university milieu. He is uneasy about the exclusively elite view of the audience for motets (pp. 69, 83), stressing phonic rather than semantic meaning, and denying the importance of intertextual relationships recently claimed for polytextual motets.10 He offers a vivid and helpful reminder of the broad context that the range of texts indeed suggests. No doubt many untrained musicians enjoyed the sound of motets then, as they do high-art music today. There is much clever and complicated 20th-century music that cannot be entirely understood aurally without study and analysis, though it may be heard as pleasurable or powerful patterns of sound, as phonic rather than semantic material. There are great verbal compositions of which the same may be true; the pleasure afforded by an uninformed reading or hearing of Dante may be considerable, but for those capable of acquiring knowledge outside that direct experience, it will be thereby enhanced. Whenever art, learning and sophistication can be demonstrated from internal evidence in a composition, as they can for motets, even more so in the ars nova than the ars antiqua, we must presume that the composer's skill was shared by a small circle of initiates, including fellow-singers and composers, who were privy to his art. Perhaps 'audience' needs to be separated into general and specialist senses. One can see why, in elevating performance to the status of scholarly evidence rather than of scholarly demonstration, and as an accomplished public performer himself, Page should think first of a listening audience to whom the music is communicated rather than also of a small participating group with whom it is shared. As for music of all periods, social history must include those who heard the sounds of music, with or without understanding, whereas substantive and critical history must probe the hidden as well as the patent craft of the trained professional. Page is concerned with the former, and he shows some impatience with musicological energies directed to the latter. He conflates them when he says: Machaut's music leaves no doubt that his sensations when composing were as indifferent to moral or intellectual persuasions as those of any composer at any period in history when genuinely engrossed. (p. 14) There is surely room for analysis as well as social history, for engagement of the intellect as well as the senses. A broadened definition of audience should leave room for that small circle of litterati, whatever we call them, who composed, received, sang, enjoyed and understood the subtleties that can be recovered by critical analysis.The motet has always suffered from the charge that its simultaneous texts are incomprehensible. The impossibility of understanding them at a first or unprepared hearing invites us to distinguish between instant and prepared comprehensibility before concluding that the texts were specifically intended not to be understood. Instant understanding is impossible, prepared understanding possible; this applies to many kinds of music. In the first paragraph below, the second sentence does not necessarily follow from the first: it is questionable whether the poets who wrote Latin verse for polytextual motets expected that their verses would be fully understood in one performance (or in any number of performances). Of all the musical genres known to the Middle Ages, it is the motet which most candidly acknowledges the importance of verbal sound over verbal sense [by the use of simultaneous texts] ... (p. 85)He continues: Perhaps we should counter the idealist belief of modern scholars that if a text is present in a medieval composition then it was meant to be understood in a fashion that somehow corresponds to what a musicologist, armed with dictionaries, concordances, the Glossa ordinaria, and more besides can accomplish. Experience suggests that the pleasure derived from hearing the words of a song does not necessarily rest upon a full (or even a moderate) comprehension of their lexical meaning and syntactic relations, let alone of their 'meaning' in any broader sense of the term. Some listeners in the thirteenth century may have enjoyed the sound-patterns of Latin motet poetry without deriving any significant understanding of the sense, much as some modern listeners do today when hearing these motets (or operatic arias, for that matter). ... it can scarcely be doubted that many motets were designed to induce an exhilarating impression of words leaving sense behind and beginning to skirl." (86)Of course considerable pleasure may arise from hearing music without paying attention to the sense or structure of its verbal text, just as sounds may please a listener with limited understanding of the musical language. But it ought to be possible to enlarge the general or popular audience without having to confine the levels at which a learned audience then and now could appreciate subtleties and refinements. If we feel "the exhilaration of knowing that a piece contains more than we can ever hope to hear"(101), may we not seek out that content, outside the real time of the musical performance, and in turn use it to enrich our enjoyment in repeated hearings? Musicians are used to the need to study, at leisure, texts set to complex music that masks their surface intelligibility, and musical complexities that do not speak only to the outer ear. It would be rash to assume that the medieval composer did not wish his art to be understood by those capable of doing so, by the true audience for his motets. Yet perhaps Page's real view is not as extreme as some of these quotations would suggest: "recourse to a score of any motet at the least is vital", and he acknowledges the composer's "chance to relate the simultaneous declamation of two or even three poems with mathematical precision". That "the motet invited a special kind of listening", that "a principal subtlety of motets may therefore be sought in the timing of the texts" (99) is a position I have developed with collaborators in recent and current work, and it is with that part of Page's argument that my own friendly engagement will continue.

This is a stimulating book, full of lively issues and ideas, that grasps many controversial nettles with vigour. The debates that are likely to ensue are to be welcomed insofar as they will promote responsible criticism and understanding. Much in the above quotations sets a distance, even an opposition, between musicology and performance, between intellectual and aesthetic values. Having built such a powerful bridge between musici and cantores, it would be a pity if he were now to sap it.

1 Voices and Instruments of the Middle Ages: Instrumental Practice and Songs in France 1100-1300 (London, 1987) and The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France 1100-1300 (London, 1989).
2 Leeman L. Perkins and Howard Garey (eds), The Mellon Chansonnier (New Haven and London, 1979); Craig Wright, Music and Ceremony at Notre Dame of Paris 500-1550 (Cambridge, 1989); Jeremy Yudkin, Music in Medieval Europe (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1989); Walter S. Kemp, Burgundian Court Song in the Time of Binchois (Oxford, 1990).
3 In an Afterword, Page takes Palisca to task for failing to reaffirm the vitality of medieval musical culture in the introductory chapter of Humanism in Italian Renaissance Musical Thought (1985). This misses the point of Palisca's study, which was to document the impact of the recovery of ancient texts on Italian musical thought. The very fact that Palisca's earliest witness, Pietro D'Abano, was contemporary with Johannes de Grocheio should warn against making simple judgments or oppositions on chronological or qualitative lines.
4 In Journal of the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society I, p. 101.
5 Admirably, the full music is provided for these rondeau refrains; but with only the text of the refrain, and with insufficient AB signposts, the uninitiated reader will have difficulty following the subtler points that depend on formal repetitions. Against Page's view one could argue, with no less arbitrary authority, that the greater number and homogeneity of the "D" cadences in the Velut rondeau would pall more on repetition than the greater variety of cadential pitches in the Lebertoul.
6 Negotiating the Past: The Historical Understanding of Medieval Literature. Madison, 1987.
7 The choice of one of Sanders's less compelling examples need not discredit his approach altogether. There are many ways in which his analyses are too timid, though they do uncover some undeniable structural techniques previously unacknowledged.
8 in JPMMS 2 (1), April 1993.
9 Cited from loc.cit. p. 36, which is fuller than and slightly revised from Discarding Images p. 82.
10 Sylvia Huot is completing a major new intertextual study of ars antiqua motet texts.