JF History of Music: Medieval and Renaissance


Week 5    Ars nova


Richard H. Hoppin, Medieval Music (New York and London, 1978), pp. 353–74, 396–421 (library).


Ars nova, attrib. Philippe de Vitry (c.1420).


Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds française 146 (the Roman de Fauvel, F). There are several sources for this satirical play by Gervais du Bus; this one of c.1320 uniquely contains musical interpolations. Pieces from the thirteenth century are included, as well as contemporary items by Philippe de Vitry and others.

Ivrea, Biblioteca capitolare, no shelf mark (the Ivrea Codex, Iv)

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds françaises 1584, 1585, 1586, 9221, 22545, 22546 (the Machaut manuscripts)


Guillaume de Machaut (ed. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson), Messe de Nostre Dame (Oxford, 1990) (library).

Kurt von Fischer, Leo Schrade et al (eds), Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century (Monaco) (library):

1The Roman de Fauvel; The works of Philippe de Vitry; French Mass Cycles

2–3 The works of Guillaume de Machaut

5Motets of French provenance

Hannah Stäblein-Harder (ed.), Fourteenth-Century Mass Music in France (American Institute of Musicology, 1962) (library).


Department CDs
367 TheRoman de Fauvel
49 Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame
700 Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame
299 Lancaster and Valois
298 The Mirror of Narcissus (secular pieces by Machaut)
625 The Service of Venus and Mars
168 The Garden of Zephirus
320 The Medieval Romantics

Library CDs
CD-801 Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame (recommended)
CD-802 Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame


Emma Dillon, Medieval Music-Making and the Roman de Fauvel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) (library).

————, The Sense of Sound: Musical Meaning in France, 1260–1330 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) (library).

Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, ‘The Emergence of Ars Nova’, The Journal of Musicology, 13 (1995), 285–317 (jstor).

(1995), 285–317 Sarah Fuller, ‘A Phantom Treatise of the Fourteenth Century? The Ars Nova’, The Journal of Musicology, 4 (1985), 23–50 (jstor).

Anne Walters Robertson, ‘Which Vitry? The Witness of the Trinity Motet from the Roman de Fauvel’ in Hearing the Motet: Essays on the Motet of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Dolores Pesce (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 52–81 (library).

Andrew Wathey, ‘The Motets of Philippe de Vitry and the Fourteenth-Century Renaissance’, Early Music History, 12 (1993), 119–150 (jstor).

Anne Walters Robertson, Guillaume de Machaut and Reims: Context and Meaning in His Musical Works (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) (library).

Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, Machaut’s Mass (Oxford, 1990) (library).

Elizabeth Ann Keitel, ‘The So-Called Cyclic Mass of Guillaume de Machaut’, Musical Quarterly, 68 (1982), 307–23 (jstor).

Elizabeth Eva Leach (ed.), Machaut’s Music: New Interpretations (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2003) (library).


With reference to specific music examples, describe the typical characteristics of an isorhythmic motet. To what extent had those characteristics been established prior to the fourteenth century?

How valid is the term ars nova for the treatise attributed to Philippe de Vitry and for the French polyphonic repertory of Vitry’s time?

To what extent is Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame typical of its composer and its period?


Some of the terms used in anaylsing motets of the period were devised by the German musicologist Friedrich Ludwig (1872–1930).

Isorhythm = same rhythm (Gk: ισοσ = same; ρψτμοσ = rhythm).

Color = melodic pattern.

Talea = rhythmic pattern.