Madness and the Eloquence of Nonsense
This chapter examines the sounds of madness, particularly with regard non-semantic, nonsensical sounds associated with the state of insanity. It takes as its starting point Adam de la Halle’s famous representation of madness in the Jeu de la feuillée, demonstrating how the verbal nonsense of the play’s madman is perceived as musical by his audience. It further demonstrates how the character’s nonsense had a revelatory function in the narrative events of the play. It then connects the madman’s sound to the sound of Adam’s own motets and others from the thirteenth-century corpus. Heard together, the madman’s verbal nonsense imbues the sound of the vernacular motet with revelatory possibilities.
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