New music for a world grown old: Martin Le Franc and the "contenance angloise"

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The late-medieval French poet Martin Le Franc devoted six stanzas of his poem Le champion des dames (1441-42) to the state of music in his time. It has been widely assumed that these stanzas testify to an epochal change in music history, the beginning of the musical Renaissance, especially in their identification of a nouvelle pratique cultivated by Dufay and Binchois, and of a contenance anglaise apparently exhibited by the music of Dunstable. However, a closer analysis of Le Franc's poem - focusing particularly on its intellectual debts, its rhetorical construction, literary sources, and poetic imagery - indicates that this assumption is highly problematic. Although Martin Le Franc was a humanist, his comments are expressive of French musical sensibilities typical of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, and do not prefigure the fundamental changes in musical culture that were to take place in Europe after the 1470s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-240
Number of pages40
JournalActa Musicologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


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