Chapter 10 “Going all the Way with Marot”: Empowerment in the Pastourelle Motet L’autrier m’esbatoie/Demenant grant joie/MANERE

In: Female-Voice Song and Women’s Musical Agency in the Middle Ages
Lisa Colton
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The pastourelle motet was an important part of romance literature and the vocal polyphony of the thirteenth century. Its musical language was subtle and full of well-planned artistry in the combination of words and music. Both textual components frequently incorporated intertextual references to pre-existent songs and poetry; in performance the motet’s texted melodies were heard in combination. This design offered composers, performers, and listeners opportunities to hear individual pieces in several ways, some of them contradictory, and further invites resistant readings of even the more ostensibly misogynist works. The present discussion considers L’autrier m’esbatoie / Demenant grant joie / MANERE in relation to the prevailing power dynamics of the pastourelle motet. It presents potentially paradoxical readings: does this motet convey the typical tale of a knight ravishing his lover, a subversive one in which the female voice is anything but helpless, or a thinly veiled, obscene objectification of women’s musical bodies?

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