Polytextuality

by igregory16

In the short time we’ve been in 1000 Years of Listening, we have been introduced to various types of music and musical terms. In the September 5th lecture, we were introduced to the term polytextuality, which refers to two or more texts set simultaneously in a composition. We then demonstrated polytextuality by having three classmates recite the Quadruplum, Triplum, and Motetus lines from Trois Serors concurrently. After I heard the demonstration, I concluded that any composition using this technique was being hindered due to the dysfunction it created. The technique draws away listeners from listening to the music and instead, leaves the listener helplessly trying to decipher anything.

However, as I recall that demonstration, I realized I was a little too quick with my judgment. Polytextual pieces bring a different spin to music and shies away from the pleasantness of music listening to a more meaningful stance. This 14th century technique allows for multiple views to be expressed at once. Although it may not be the most pleasing thing to listen to, we can gain a lot from analyzing the written texts. The listening experience of the audience changes as the music transitions into this superimposition of multiple texts. We are forced to listen harder to the music as multiple performers compete to be heard over the others. The chaos that ensues can jar the audience from the lull we get when listening to music. In a way, this technique that creates such disorganization somehow makes us refocus on the performance. I like polytextuality because it does not conform to the musical norm of reciting one text at a time, even though we as an audience come away with snippets and broken fragments.

Advertisements