MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Machaut and Marcel Pérès

This weekend, Cappella Romana is presenting performances of Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame under guest conductor Marcel Pérès, an early-music authority. Upset that I had to miss last night’s performance in Seattle. Two more follow this weekend (in Portland and Eugene, respectively).

For Cappella Romana, Marcel Pérès published this fascinating commentary on this milestone of Western music:

A far-reaching transformation took place. The mastery of numbers in the sphere of time gave men the impression that they had become something greater than mere cogs in a greater cosmic order. Thanks to the mathematical mastery of durations, music had become geometry of time.

With this new ability to conceive music outside of time, musicians began to regard themselves as creators, building structures that did not exist before their intervention in the sound material. This is probably why the 14th century gave rise to the gradual emergence of named composers.

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Filed under: Cappella Romana, early music, Machaut

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