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Ars nova (Latin for new art)refers to a musical style which flourished in France and the Burgundian Low Countries in the late Middle Ages: more particularly, in the period between the preparation of the Roman de Fauvel (1310s) and the death of composer Guillaume de Machaut in 1377. The term is sometimes used more generally to refer to all European polyphonic music of the fourteenth century. For instance, "Italian ars nova" is sometimes used to denote the music of Francesco Landini and his compatriots (although Trecento music is the more common term for 14th-century music in Italy). The "ars" in "ars nova" can be read as "technique", or "style". The term was first used in two musical treatises, titled Ars novae musicae (New Technique of Music) (c. 1320) by Johannes de Muris, and a collection of writings (c. 1322) attributed to Philippe de Vitry often simply called "Ars nova" today. However, the term was first used to describe an historical era only by Johannes Wolf in 1904.
The term ars nova is often used in juxtaposition to another term, ars antiqua , which refers to the music of the immediately preceding age, usually extending back to take in the period of Notre Dame polyphony (from about 1170 to 1320). Roughly, then, ars antiqua refers to music of the thirteenth century, and the ars nova that of the fourteenth; many music histories use the terms in this more general sense.
The period from the death of Machaut (1377) until the early fifteenth century, including the rhythmic innovations of the ars subtilior , is sometimes considered the end of, or late, ars nova but at other times an independent era in music.Other musical periods and styles have at various times been called "new art." (Tinctoris used the term to describe Dunstaple); however, in modern historiographical usage, it is restricted entirely to the period described above.
Stylistically, the music of the ars nova differed from the preceding era in several ways. Developments in notation allowed notes to be written with greater rhythmic independence, shunning the limitations of the rhythmic modes which prevailed in the thirteenth century; secular music acquired much of the polyphonic sophistication previously found only in sacred music; and new techniques and forms, such as isorhythm and the isorhythmic motet, became prevalent. The overall aesthetic effect of these changes was to create music of greater expressiveness and variety than had been the case in the thirteenth century. [ failed verification ] Indeed, the sudden historical change which occurred, with its startling new degree of musical expressiveness, can be likened to the introduction of perspective in painting, and it is useful to consider that the changes to music in the period of the ars nova were contemporary with the great early Renaissance revolutions in painting and literature.
The most famous practitioner of the new musical style was Guillaume de Machaut, who also had a distinguished career as a canon at Reims Cathedral and as a poet. The ars-nova style is evident in his considerable body of motets, lais, virelais, rondeaux and ballades.
Towards the end of the fourteenth century, a new stylistic school of composers and poets centered in Avignon in southern France developed; the highly mannered style of this period is often called the ars subtilior , although some scholars have chosen to consider it a late development of the ars nova rather than separating it into a separate school. This strange but interesting repertory of music, limited in geographical distribution (southern France, Aragon and later Cyprus), and clearly intended for performance by specialists for an audience of connoisseurs, is like an "end note" to the entire Middle Ages.
|Name||Lifetime||Works that survive||Ref(s)|
|Philippe de Vitry||1291–1361||Many works|
|Jehan de Lescurel||fl. early 14th century||Many ballades and rondeaus; two "Diz entez"|
|Guillaume de Machaut||c. 1300 – 1377|| Substantial amount in various forms |
|P. des Molins||fl. mid 14th century||The ballade De ce que fol pensé and the rondeau Amis, tout dous vis|
|Jehan Vaillant||fl. 1360–1390||Three rondeau a ballades and virelai |
|Grimace||fl. mid-to-late 14th century||Three ballades, a virelai and rondeau |
|F. Andrieu||fl. late 14th century||The (double) ballade Armes amours|
|Briquet||fl. early 15th century||The rondeau Ma seule amour et ma belle maistresse|
Guillaume de Machaut was a French composer and poet who was the central figure of the ars nova style in late medieval music. His dominance of the genre is such that modern musicologists use his death to separate the ars nova from the subsequent ars subtilior movement. Regarded as the most significant French composer and poet of the 14th century, he is often seen as the century's leading European composer.
Isorhythm is a musical technique using a repeating rhythmic pattern, called a talea, in at least one voice part throughout a composition. Taleae are typically applied to one or more melodic patterns of pitches or colores, which may be of the same or a different length from the talea.
Philippe de Vitry was a French composer, music theorist and poet. He was an accomplished, innovative, and influential composer, and may also have been the author of the Ars Nova treatise. He was widely acknowledged as the greatest musician of his day, with Petrarch writing a glowing tribute, calling him: "... the keenest and most ardent seeker of truth, so great a philosopher of our age." Though de Vitry likely wrote secular music, only his sacred works survive.
F. Andrieu was a French composer in the ars nova style of late medieval music. Nothing is known for certain about him except that he wrote Armes, amours/O flour des flours, a double ballade déploration, for the death of Guillaume de Machaut in 1377. The work has been widely praised and analyzed; it is notable for being one of two extant medieval double ballades for four voices, the only known contemporary musical setting of Eustache Deschamps and the earliest representative of the longstanding medieval and Renaissance lamentation tradition between composers. He may be the same person as Magister Franciscus, although the scholarly consensus on this identification is unclear. With P. des Molins, Jehan Vaillant and Grimace, Andrieu was one of the "post-Machaut" generation whose pieces retain enough ars nova qualities to be differentiated from composers of ars subtilior.
Solage, possibly Jean So(u)lage, was a French composer, and probably also a poet. He composed the most pieces in the Chantilly Codex, the principal source of music of the ars subtilior, the manneristic compositional school centered on Avignon at the end of the century.
The music history of France runs from as far back as the 10th century to today's modern music. French music originated as a unified style in medieval times, focusing around the Notre-Dame school of composers. This group developed the motet, a specific musical composition. Troubadours and trouvères soon began touring France, composing and performing many original songs. The styles of ars nova and ars subtilior sprung up in the 14th century, both of which focused on secular songs. As Europe moved into the Renaissance age, the music of France continued to evolve. The popularity of French music in the rest of Europe declined slightly, yet the popular chanson and the old motet were further developed during this time. The epicenter of French music moved from Paris to Burgundy, as it followed the Burgundian School of composers. During the Baroque period, music was simplified and restricted due to Calvinist influence. The air de cour then became the primary style of French music, as it was secular and preferred by the royal court.
The Chantilly Codex is a manuscript of medieval music containing pieces from the style known as the Ars subtilior. It is held in the museum at the Château de Chantilly in Chantilly, Oise.
The Ivrea Codex is a parchment manuscript containing a significant body of 14th century French polyphonic music.
Borlet was a 14th- and 15th-century composer whose life we know extremely little about. It is thought that his name is an anagram of Trebol, a French composer who served Martin of Aragon in 1409 at the same time as Gacian Reyneau and other composers in the Codex Chantilly.
Trebor was a 14th-century composer of polyphonic chansons, active in Navarre and other southwest European courts c. 1380-1400. He may be the same person also called Triboll, Trebol, and Borlet in other contemporaneous sources. His name is likely a reversal of Robert.
Grimace was a French composer-poet of the ars nova style in late medieval music. Virtually nothing is known about Grimace's life other than speculative information based on the circumstances and content of his five surviving compositions of formes fixes; three ballades, a virelai and rondeau. He is though to have been a younger contemporary of Guillaume de Machaut and based in southern France. Three of his works were included in the Chantilly Codex, which is an important source of ars subtilior music. However, along with P. des Molins, Jehan Vaillant and F. Andrieu, Grimace was one of the post-Machaut generation whose music shows few distinctly ars subtilior features, leading scholars to recognize Grimace's work as closer to the ars nova style of Machaut. His most often performed work in modern-times is the virelai and proto-battaglia: A l’arme A l’arme.
Egidius de Francia was a French music theorist of medieval music, known for the short treatise De motettis componendis. He possibly was an Augustinian friar, as in a miniature illumination he is titled Magister Egidius Augustinus. Along with "Guilelmus de Francia", he was probably a friar at the Monastery of Santo Spirito in Florence.
Philippus de Caserta, was a medieval music theorist and composer associated with the style known as ars subtilior.
Jehan Vaillant was a French music composer and theorist. He is named immediately after Guillaume de Machaut by the Règles de la seconde rhétorique, which describes him as a "master … who had a school of music in Paris". Besides five pieces of music surviving to his name, he was also the author of a treatise on tuning. With Grimace and F. Andrieu, Vaillant was part of the post-Machaut generation whose music shows few distinctly ars subtilior features, leading scholars to recognize Vaillant's work as closer to the ars nova style of Machaut.
Johannes Cuvelier was a composer of the Ars subtilior, whose surviving works are preserved in the Chantilly Codex. He was possibly born in Tournai and worked at the court of Charles V.
P. des Molins, probably Pierre des Molins, was a French composer-poet of the ars nova style in late medieval music. His two surviving compositions – the ballade De ce que fol pensé and rondeau Amis, tout dous vis – were tremendously popular as they are among the most transmitted pieces of fourteenth-century music. The ballade is found in 12 medieval manuscript sources and featured in a c. 1420 tapestry; the rondeau is found in 8 sources and referenced by the Italian poet Simone de' Prodenzani. Along with Grimace, Jehan Vaillant and F. Andrieu, Molins was one of the post-Guillaume de Machaut generation whose music shows few distinctly ars subtilior features, leading scholars to recognize Molins's work as closer to the ars nova style of Machaut.
Magister Franciscus was a French composer in the ars nova style of late Medieval music. He is known for two surviving works, the three-part ballades: De Narcissus and Phiton, Phiton, beste tres venimeuse. The former was widely distributed in his lifetime.
Gilbert Reaney was an English musicologist who specialized in medieval and Renaissance music and theory. Described as "one of the most prolific and influential musicologists of the past century", Reaney made significant contributions to his fields of expertise, particularly on the life and works of Guillaume de Machaut, as well as medieval music theory. He also wrote about medieval and Renaissance literature. Among his notable publications are the book Guillaume de Machaut (1971) for the Oxford Studies of Composers series; new editions on various early music composers, particularly Baude Cordier; major new editions of works by music theorists Franco of Cologne and Philippe de Vitry; and at least 34 articles on a variety of subjects for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and the subsequent Grove Music Online.