Delinquent Descorts and Medieval Lateness
This chapter focuses on the emergence of the descort in troubadour and trouvère repertories and its particularly self-conscious play with form, genre, and performance. Disruption and belatedness define the descort, which is a heterostrophic lyric genre that expresses the idea of “discord” in formal and melodic ways by orchestrating conflicts between sense and sound. Only four Occitan descorts survive with music, and three of these are late additions to the chansonnier trouv. M (P-BNF fr. 844), which contains the largest single collection of notated French descorts as well. Here we can see an exchange of ideas among various scribes who “interpreted” descorts at different stages of the manuscript’s production. Musical and paleographical evidence further suggests the influence of these late Occitan descorts on the lais and chansons added to the manuscript at some point after the Occitan descorts. Thus the descorts began a domino effect of musical composition within trouv. M that appears to be self-consciously discordant with the musical tradition of the chanson.
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