The 'Alamire' Manuscripts in Partbook Format
Promotors: David Burn, Ignace Bossuyt
Copromotor: Emily Thelen
Researcher: Serafina Beck
Period: 01.10.2011 – 30.09.2015 / PhD expected in 2019
The Leuven Chansonnier 15th Century Courtly Song
Financing: KU Leuven C2 Fund
Promotors: David Burn, Bart Demuyt
Researcher: Ryan O’Sullivan
Period: 15.10.2018 ‒ 15.10.2022
In 2015, the Alamire Foundation tracked down a previously unknown fifteenth-century chansonnier. The manuscript, containing fifty polyphonic compositions of which twelve were unique, was purchased in 2016 by the King Baudouin Foundation, at the request of the Alamire Foundation, and entrusted to the latter’s care. This unique find, henceforth known as the Leuven Chansonnier (LC), has attracted attention from around the world.
The present doctorate offers the first in-depth examination of the LC. It aims to four main perspectives. First, it aims to solve remaining questions concerning the LC as a material object. This involves, among other things, examination of the extremely rare textile binding, the parchment, and illuminations. Research questions here include the as-yet still unclear early ownership and provenance of the source. Second, it will examine the LC’s contents. This concerns not only the twelve unica, which will be music-stylistically analysed, but also the remaining thirty-eight pieces. Text-critical examination will place the sometimes highly distinctive LC versions of known songs in a broader perspective. Analysis will also focus on the poetry of the songs: the LC is important not only as a musical source, but also a poetic one. Analysis of the poetry of the unique songs will shed light on the production context, and possibly on authorship of the unique pieces. Analysis of spelling and writing styles may provide new clues for provenance. Third, it will examine the consequences of the discovery of the LC for reassessing related sources. Of particular importance here is a reconsideration of the so-called Loire Valley hypothesis: the proposal that the sources most closely related to the LC originated in the Loire Valley region; Finally, it will consider the consequences of the LC for our understanding of fifteenth-century song culture: for the ways in which song circulated, was preserved, and was consumed.