Music History is Thrilling!

Ars Nova Chanson and Guillaume de Machaut


14th century miniature of Guilluame de Machaut

14th century miniature of Guilluame de Machaut

Philippe de Vitry …
A Medieval composer who is also well known for his treatise, “Ars Nova”, where he advocated the advancement of rhythm to include the duple subdivision of the beat. De Vitry referred to the music before Ars Nova as being Ars Antiqua.
Ars Nova …
Ars Nova refers to both the “New Art” which was beginning to emerge with the birth of the Renaissance era and the treatise which Philippe de Vitry wrote. The New Art saw the increase in secular subjects in literature and music and also the shift in art to recognize the beauty of the human form. The treatise included innovations such as a duple subdivision of the beat, advanced harmonies, and counterpoint. The fixed poetic forms were also introduced in the treatise…
Fixed poetic forms …
Ars Nova extended also to the chanson genre in which music became a direct reflection of the poetry form.
  • Rondeau … One of the fixed poetic forms following the formal structure: A-B-a-A-a-b-A-B (Capital letters indicate refrain)
  • Ballade … One of the fixed poetic forms within Ars Nova.
  • Virelai … One of the fixed poetic forms within Ars Nova.

Guillaume de Machaut

C. 1300-1377

Guillaume, a French composer, clearly reveals Ars Nova characteristics in his music. He prefers more complex meters, advanced harmonies such as major thirds and sixths rather than the open fifths and octaves of Ars Antiqua. His double career as both courtier and cleric provided him with the opportunity to write both sacred and secular genres. Of the secular genres, Guillaume preferred the chanson.

“Puis qu’en ouibli”

This French chanson was written in the 1300s and in the Ars Nova style following the fixed poetic form, Rondeau with a two line refrain: A-B-a-A-a-b-A-B with capital letters indicating the refrain. The chanson is written for three voices, or one voice supported by instruments playing the additional vocal lines, and is polyphonic in texture. The translation of the title is “Since I am forgotten by you” and is about a lover who has been forgotten yet remains true to his “sweet friend” despite the sadness he must endure. Free flowing rhythms with gentle syncopation are featured.

All information on this article is derived from: Joseph Machlis and Kristine Forney. The Enjoyment of Music, Eight Edition, Standard Version, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999. Janet Lopinski, Joe Ringhofer, and Peteris Zarins. Exploring Music History, A Guided Approach, Mississauga, Ontario: Frederick Harris Music Co., Limited
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
2 comments (show) ▼


isn’t it “oubli” not “ouibli”?

Try Hard

It is oubli, meaning forget in French.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this!