‘Between silence and sound: finding voices for French songs, 1100-1300’

My paper explores a familiar silence in music history: the seeming limit of notated sources of medieval music as records of sound. It takes as case study songs from the early medieval repertory of French chanson (trouvère song) dating c. 1150-1220. As a foil to the sparse information for sound captured in notated songbooks, I explore alternative routes into the soundworlds – or timbres – of the songs. My talk maps an interdisciplinary methodology for re-sounding trouvère songs, embracing diverse materialities, literary environments and soundscapes shaped by and informing the experience of trouvère songs, contexts that ultimately invite more expansive categories of song and sound. In keeping with OSiMTA’s theme, I will reflect on recent deliberation in the field of music theory, analysis and pedagogy, opening discussion on how the approach proposed could inform the study and teaching of medieval songs and poetry within music studies and potentially also in other fields of medieval history and literary studies.