Music of the Ars Nova

Adam de la Halle (1250 –  1306), also known as Adam the Hunchback, was one of the last trouvères (a northern France version of the troubadour).  He wrote both monophonic music and three-part, polyphonic music.  You will note the increasing complexity of the polyphonic music, in which there is greater independence of each of the melodic parts. See

See  for his recordings available for purchase at Classical Archives.

Philippe de Vitry (1291-1361) was a true Renaissance man before his time: Not only was he a well-known poet and musician, but he was also a bishop, diplomat, administrator and political adviser. He was active in the Ars Nova, or New Art, which improved upon rhythmic notation, allowing for greater rhythmic precision in choral music. Previously rhythm was determined more by “rhythmic modes” or rhythmic patterns that the performers recognized and applied to the existing neumatic notation.  He also contributed to the development of the motet, which was polyphonic, a cappella (unaccompanied), and sacred. The motet also developed a secular form, much to the displeasure of the Catholic church. See and

See  for his recordings available for purchase at Classical Archives.

Guillaume de Machaut (c. P300 – April 1377) about whom we have significant biographical information  is one of the last poet – composers.   He wrote the first complete Ordinary Mass entitled Mass of Notre Dame, and he contributed to the development of the motet and a number of secular musical forms.  His secular works typically involved courtly love; his music is rhythmically intricate and innovative; and his poetry influenced many contemporary poets, including Jeffrey Chauser.

See and, with video view of a page of its score, from sections of his Mass of Notre Dame.  You will note the throaty quality of each of these.  The first is more refined and nuanced; the second reminds me of “sacred harp” or “shaped note” singing which can yet be heard in some churches and places in the south.  (see for an excellent site concerning this style of singing, its history; and for video.)  By way of comparison, see, also, the following examples of his secular motets:

See  for an extensive list of his recordings available for purchase at  Classical Archives.

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