Manuscript to Performance

| July 11-15, 2017

Reconstructing the Context and Performance of Medieval Pilgrimage Music

Dr. Mauricio Molina, Dr. Meritxell Martín, Juan Carlos Asencio, Cristina Alís Raurich, and Dr. Gisèle Clément

pilgrimagePilgrimage had an enormous impact in the religious, political, economic, and artistic life of medieval Europe. It fomented piousness, travelling, trade, and architectural and sculptural development.

In the realm of music it prompted the creation of some of the most elaborate monophonic and polyphonic compositions of the age. This music was created to enrich the ceremonies of cathedrals, monasteries and churches that served as important destinations on the pilgrimage routes to Jerusalem, Rome, Montserrat, and Compostela.

The program Manuscript to Performance will explore medieval pilgrimage music from historical, religious, anthropological, and performative perspectives.




The course offers:

  • An examination of the spiritual, political, economic, and artistic context of medieval pilgrimage – Dr. Meritxell Martí
  • The creation of a theory of performance for pilgrim music following the study of medieval treatises, literature, iconography, and music sources – Dr. Mauricio Molina
  • The study and performance of monophonic and polyphonic music from the Codex Calixtinus of Santiago de Compostela – Juan Carlos Asensio
  • The study and performance of monophonic and polyphonic music from the Llibre Vermell of Montserrat – Cristina Alís Raurich

The course is open to practical musicians, musicologists, philologists, historians, and anyone interested in the study of medieval culture. Knowledge of music and experience with music reading is essential for active students.

All classes in English. Lecture in French.

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Class Descriptions

The Historical, Political, Spiritual and Artistic Context of Medieval Pilgrimage

Dr. Meritxell Martín
1.5 hours per day (Tuesday-Saturday)

Pilgrimage was an important activity in medieval Europe. The prospect of traveling to sacred sites fueled the imagination of people who enthusiastically undertook its routes in search of spiritual, physical, or economic benefit. This had a profound impact on european life: it strengthened communication and the political and cultural ties between regions, fomented trade and economic growth, and prompted the building of great cathedrals and the creation of exquisite pieces of art and music.

In this class professor Martín will place medieval pilgrimage in its historical, political, economic and spiritual context. With this she will prepare the groundwork for the exploration of the music practices and repertoires that will be examined throughout the Manuscript to Performance course.

Materializing the Medieval Pilgrimage Song

Dr. Mauricio Molina
1.5 hours per day (Tuesday-Saturday)

The purpose of this class is to explore and reconstruct the music and music performance conducted on medieval pilgrimage routes and shrines. Students will study the musical and poetic forms used in connection with pilgrimage, analyze performance traditions that existed during late antiquity in connection with pagan shrines, discuss the use of performance spaces (indoor-outdoor), collect information about the employment of musical instruments, and consider the presence of dance music as a form of worship.

Performance elements such as the delivery of poetry and melody, expression, rhythmic movement, gesticulation and dance movements also will be reconstructed for each repertoire following the information contained in contemporaneous literary, musical and iconographical sources.

The Codex Calixtinus

Juan Carlos Asencio
1.5 hours per day (Tuesday-Saturday)

This course will be dedicated to the study and performance of monophonic and polyphonic compositions from the 12th-century Codex Calixtinus of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The work of reconstruction and performance will be conducted from the original notation.

The Codex Calixtinus was created to support the cult of the apostle Saint James (Santiago) and to legitimize the peregrinations directed to Compostela to venerate his remains. The Codex contains the texts and the music used in the solemn celebrations in the Cathedral of Santiago in honor of the apostle. The magnificent monophonic and polyphonic compositions of the Codex reveal a great liturgical-musical tradition that borrowed Aquitanian models for its embellishment.

Llibre Vermell of Montserrat

Cristina Alís Raurich
1.5 hours per day (Tuesday-Saturday)

The Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat was one of the most important pilgrimage shrines in the medieval Iberian Peninsula. During this period people flocked to this sanctuary to worship a 12th-century image of the Virgin Mary to whom many miracles were attributed. To honor the Virgin a choir was created already in the 12th century and a rich musical tradition was developed. But the clerics were not the only key players in the musical life of Montserrat: pilgrims visiting the Monastery also sang and danced before its doors as it is revealed in an important medieval musical source created in the sanctuary: the Llibre Vermell of Montserrat.

The Llibre Vermell is one of the most important sources of 14th-century Iberian monophonic and polyphonic music. Among the musical compositions included in the book we find canons, polyphonic pieces in virelai form for two and three voices and a group of dance-songs.

In this class students will:

  • Explore the historical and cultural context of the Monastery of Montserrat and the Llibre Vermell.
  • Study the different musical notations used in the manuscript.
  • Analyze the pieces’ poetic and musical forms placing them in the context of other contemporaneous repertoires.
  • Perform the polyphonic and monophonic compositions with voices and instruments.


Special Lectures

Music from Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert a stopping place on the pilgrim route to Saint James of Compostela

Dr. Gisèle Clément
1 hour (Friday)

The library Émile Zola of Montpellier houses a collection of medieval manuscripts from the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, formerly known as Saint-Sauveur Gellone. Among these sources we find the Vita Sancti Willelmi, written in the early twelfth century, and the Office of Saint Guilhem (known by a copy made during the 14th century). Both works were composed when the cult of Saint Guilhem reached its zenith thanks to the fact that the monastery became an important stopover on the pilgrim route to Saint James of Compostela. The texts of both, the Vita and the Office, glorify Saint Guilhem, cousin of Charlemagne and illustrious founder of the monastery who fought against Muslims at the beginning of the 9th century.

In this talk, Dr. Gisèle Clément will present these works placing them within the context of the monastery and the pilgrimage experience.

Coffee & lecture: St. Martial, the Apostle that never was

Cristina Alís Raurich

1/2 hour (Saturday)

Saint Martial, a venerated religious figure in Aquitaine (France), was claimed to be the 13th apostle. To give weight to this claim and to promote devotion to the Saint, a liturgy was created in the 11th century in Limoges-an important site on the road to Saint James of Compostela. The monk Adémar de Chabannes seems to have had a primary role in the creation of this new rite. The music for this liturgy was comprised of a reworking of chants already composed in honor to other apostles. Unfortunately, this liturgy was performed only once.

In this lecture Cristina Alís Raurich will discuss how Saint Martial was elevated to the position of apostle, why its liturgy was performed only one time, and how the devotion to this Saint influenced aquitanian musical repertoires.