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The Sense of SoundMusical Meaning in France, 1260-1330$
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Emma Dillon

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199732951

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732951.001.0001

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Listening to the Past, Listening in the Past

Listening to the Past, Listening in the Past

(p.16) 1 Listening to the Past, Listening in the Past
The Sense of Sound

Emma Dillon

Oxford University Press

This chapter is an exposition of the methodology of the book. It begins with analysis of a thirteenth-century motet, exploring the relationship between text and sound, and argues that the motet’s hallmark sound – the supermusical – in which words are obscured in performance, provided an ethical challenge to its listeners. It then offers a mode for ‘listening’ to such sound based on medieval attitudes to the voice and modern ideas of dialogic listening, in which musical sound may be understood in conversation with other kinds of sound. It further notes the problems attached to recovering medieval sound. This chapter draws on medieval writers such as Augustine, Donatus, Aelred of Rievaulx, and modern writers such as Bakhtin to establish a model for holistic listening to the motet. It then proposes four soundscapes against which to situate the sound of the motet: the city, charivari, the sound of madness, the sound of prayer.

Keywords:   Motet, courtly love, Augustine, Aelred of Rievaulx, Bakhtin

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