New article post: Anna Zayaruznaya, “Evidence of Reworkings in ars nova Motets,” Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis 38 (2014, published 2018): 155–75.
Conferences on wide-open themes often sound to me like a thing better in the imagining than in the doing (let’s have a conference on “the feline”! A session on the number 3?), but there’s no way this article would ever have come about if I hadn’t been invited to participate in a symposium on the theme of “Reworkings” (subtitle “Musical re-Elaboration and Cultural Context”) organized by Pedro Memelsdorff in November 2014 at the Schola Cantorum in Basel. Granted, “reworkings” is more specific than cats (if less cuddly), and I learned that an invitation like that is really a question in disguise. What can you say within your domain of expertise and interest about the topic of [conference theme]? I had never thought much about whether or to what extent the repertory I work on had been subject to reworkings. Which is not to say that there isn’t important work on added contratenors and triplum voices added to motets and songs. But there’s also a prevalent rhetoric about the “inessential” qualities of these added voices. As for motets surviving in various systems of notation, we tend to think of these not as reworked, but only renotated, leaving the “essential” elements of pitch, rhythm, and vertical sonority left untouched. That may or may not be right, but even so: motets are remarkably textually stable, mutatis mutandis.