The Motets of Guillaume de Machaut

Machaut, Guillaume de (c. 1300–1377), translated by Kline, A. S. (contact-email)

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Guillaume de Machaut, a key figure from the 14th century, stands out among French poet-composers. Affiliated with the ars nova music movement, he advanced the motet and secular forms like the rondel and ballade. After receiving his education in Reims, he served John I, Count of Luxembourg and later members of the same lineage, such as Jean, Duc de Berry. From 1337, as a canon of Reims, he devoted himself to writing, composing, and curating his manuscripts. His extensive output includes prose, narrative poems, and a treatise on poetry. Machaut’s influence reached musicians and notable poets like Christine de Pisan and Chaucer. His motets, typically in three parts, are in French or Latin. The term ‘motet’ likely originates from the French ‘mot’, hinting at a short musical vocal piece. Adjustments were made in the rhyme schemes to facilitate translations while preserving the original essence.

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Kline, A. S.

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