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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?

In: Female-Voice Song and Women’s Musical Agency in the Middle Ages
Volume Editors: and
This collection of seventeen essays newly identifies contributions to musical culture made by women before 1500 across Europe. You will learn about repertoire from such diverse locations as Iceland, Spain, and Italy, and encounter examples of musicianship from the gender-fluid professional musicians at the Islamicate courts of Syria to the nuns of Barking Abbey in England.
The book shows that women drove musical patronage, dissemination, composition, and performance, including within secular and ecclesiastical contexts, and also reflects on the reception of medieval women’s musical agency by both medieval poets and by modern recording artists.
Contributors are David Catalunya, Lisa Colton, Helen Dell, Annemari Ferreira, Rachel Golden, Gillian L. Gower, Anna Kathryn Grau, Carissa M. Harris, Louise McInnes, Lisa Nielson, Lauren Purcell-Joiner, Megan Quinlan, Leah Stuttard, Claire Taylor Jones, Melissa Tu, Angelica Vomera, and Anne Bagnall Yardley.