Structure, Musical Forces, and Musica Ficta in Fourteenth-Century Monophonic Songs
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This study provides insight into the compositional features of the monophonic ballata, a genre developed in the early to mid-fourteenth century in northern Italy. In analyzing the formal structure, melodic contour, application of musica ficta, and relationship between text and melody, I suggest ways in which performers of this repertoire can highlight the exceptional qualities of this music while remaining rooted in a historically-informed tradition of early music performance practice. Using principles of Schenkerian ideas of prolongation, Salzerian approaches to constructing voice-leading analyses of early music, and Steve Larson's theory of musical forces as criteria for well-formed melodies, I created a method that shows every note as structural or ornamental at every given level. The use of these theoretical approaches serves to highlight what about this music is compelling and what can be brought out as 'familiar' in a piece, what repeats, and what connects sections and how. I conclude that counterpoint is behind the organization of these works at the structural level, even as monophonic songs. I acknowledge that there are features we could construe as "tonal," but that information is only useful to a performer familiar with tonal elements, and it is therefore only one of many layers of understanding that should be accessed by the modern performer.