The French-Italian journal Textus & Musica seeks contributions for a conference and a special issue of the journal, which will address the performance of medieval monophonic or monodic song (liturgical, sacred, or secular). We welcome proposals that treat a wide variety of written and visual representations, from all of Europe and beyond, in the High and Late Middle Ages (12th- 16th centuries).
This interdisciplinary encounter aims to place monophony (single- voice chant) at the center of a conversation drawing together musicologists, liturgists, historians, art historians, and scholars of literature. Throughout the high and late medieval periods, not only music writing but also visual depictions and written accounts of singers increased steadily. In particular, the end of the Middle Ages witnessed an explosion of texts concerning “good conduct” and “proper” ways of singing, coinciding with the introduction of new media and the increased circulation of printed texts and images. This conference and special issue will focus less on the notated chant itself than on technical, pedagogical, poetic, literary, or artistic descriptions and/or representations of the practice and performance of song for one voice.
Visual sources might be artistic, representational, or iconographic, but also architectural or archaeological. Written sources might include musical or textual (historical/literary) sources in the official languages of the practiced religions (e.g. Latin, Greek, Slavonic, Hebrew, or Arabic) or also in vernacular languages. The multiple disciplinary perspectives should each ground interpretation in concrete historical examples and case studies.
Contributors may consider the following questions: How do texts and images represent singers, cantors and chantresses, troubadours and trouvères, Minnesänger, Meistersänger, etc.? How do visual media “describe” monophonic song, and what sorts of information can be derived from visual representations of performance? What can prescriptive sources (e.g. treatises, ordinals) truly reveal about historical practice? Are there commonalities of practice between different linguistic and cultural regions? What sorts of sources might record the practices of minorities or of insulated or autonomous communities (e.g. monasteries, beguinages, etc.) for preserving their cultures of song? Of interest might also be explicit comparisons of sacred and secular song, such as the warnings against musical genres that encourage drinking and dancing.
Approaches to the performance of medieval monophonic or monodic song might include attention to:
- the texts of the songs, whether liturgical, sacred or secular
- the rubrics of liturgical books or the ceremonial descriptions in ordinals, obsequials, or rituals (whether in Latin or in vernacular languages)
- accounts in chronicles or historical narratives
- illuminations and miniatures in music manuscripts
- descriptions or financial/legal records of the lives of singers accompanied performance with instrumental music
- or architectural spaces, sculpture, sculptural programs, painting, and other representational art
The contributions published in volume 7 of Textus & Musica will engage with a variety of texts and other sources with the goal of offering scholars an avenue for approaching the interpretation of monophonic song not only in “their” fields of study but also from new angles. Joint proposals by two scholars, whether in the format of a single joint presentation or for a “double presentation” on related subjects are particularly welcome.
About the Conference
The conference will be held in hybrid mode: partly in person at the NOVA University of Lisbon and partly virtual. If possible, participants are encouraged to join the conference in Lisbon to facilitate interaction and exchange, but inability to travel will not preclude participation. Participants will present a summary of their planned article contributions in English, French, or Italian in presentations of 20 minutes for a single contributor or 35 minutes for a joint presentation. Articles will be due to the organizers in April 2023 for publication in September 2023. There will be a conference fee of 35€ for in-person participants (25€ for online participants), plus 30€ for a communal dinner in Lisbon.
Detailed abstracts (2000-3000 characters) in English, French or Italian, together with a brief bibliography and a short contributor’s bio, should be sent to by email to one of the two organizers at the email addresses given below by September 15, 2022.
Kristin Hoefener (NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal): firstname.lastname@example.org
CJ Jones (University of Notre Dame, USA): email@example.com
For more information about the journal Textus & Musica, we invite you to explore the journal’s website.