Music of the late 14th century: students and successors by Guillaume de Machaut, master of the Ars subtilior
- Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Emanating from this music is a singular force of attraction. It is the kind of music which, if you happen upon it by chance, compels you to linger, to listen all the way to the end. Perhaps because it comes to us from a different world, a different time. For it is old – more than 600 years old. This music emerged prior to the boundary that marks the birth of the Renaissance, of the Reformation, of the discovery of the world that inaugurated our own epoch, namely modernity. In one respect, the situation of composers back then resembled that of today’s: new media provided them with novel possibilities. In the 14th century, it was a differentiated musical notation; today it is the collaboration of electronic systems of calculation. Both innovations harboured unprecedented opportunities for the complex elaboration of musical interrelationships (and non-relationships). And the results? “In no other early music do we find a comparable attempt to link together the physical worlds of sound, movement, and dynamics with those of rhetorical and musical expression – as though the newly discovered notation techniques had been developed solely for that purpose.” (Björn Schmelzer)
The name Graindelavoix – chosen by Björn Schmelzer for his ensemble – is borrowed from Roland Barthes, and it means the grain, the graininess, of the voice. It is this graininess which gives a voice its character, which interlocks speech and music into a sensory experience. It is responsible for that fine roughness of texture that allows us to recognize its singular quality. By virtue of its roughness, not its smoothness.
Compositions by Solage, Johannes Simonis Hasprois, Matheus de Sancto Johanne, Baude Cordier and others