Modal and Motivic Coherence in the Music of the Fleury Play Book


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The Music of the Medieval Church Dramas by the late William L. Smoldon, published in 1980 six years after the author's death, brought to light scores of melodies from liturgical dramas, including many from the so-called Fleury Play Book, Orléans, Bibliothèque de la Ville, MS. 201.1 Although Smoldon in this publication has transcribed certain melodies, his purpose was not to become too involved with melodic analysis; hence our understanding of this repertory's musical excellence still requires additional scholarly attention. However, when we direct our energy toward what Walther Lipphardt called "modal unity"2 we can, through modal and motivic analysis, expose these slimly explored facets of the plays' music, and we can also provide bases for comparing musical effects of other manuscripts. Indeed, Lipphardt's understanding of tonale Einheit is reasonable, since entire series of antiphons maintaining a single mode are to be found in chant repertories.3 John Stevens pertinently remarks that in the Fleury Visitatio the mode is retained up to scene changes, while the Tres Filiae maintains a single melody throughout.4 How many other modal and motivic continua are to be found in the remaining St. Nicholas and Temporale tetralogies and biblical miracles associated with St. Paul and Lazarus in the Fleury Play Book?

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