• Comme Femme Desconfortée: A Vision of Our Lady of Sorrows as a Disconsolate Woman

    Samuel Robles (see profile)
    Binchois, Gilles, approximately 1400-1460, Polyphonic chansons, Symbolism in art, Sacred music, Josquin, des Prez, -1521
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    International Congress on Medieval Studies
    Conf. Org.:
    Western Michigan University
    Conf. Loc.:
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Conf. Date:
    Allegory and Symbolism, Music of the Middle Ages
    Permanent URL:
    In this paper I explore musical works built on Gilles Binchois' chanson Comme femme desconfortée. I propose that these works, read as a corpus, show an effort to communicate Mary’s suffering for the absence of her son, as expressed through the placement of these musical compositions in the liturgical calendar and through their ritual use. I propose that the new Marian celebrations, along with the music, visual art, and paraliturgical literature which accompanied them, were part of a seemingly systematic effort designed to provide a sense of “humanity,” or “earthliness,” to the Virgin Mary and to Christ himself. They were, furthermore, inspired to an extraordinary detail by the vitae compiled by Voragine. I employ the concept of semantic polyphony as an analytical point of departure in order to uncover and explore layers of meaning in works of art dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, particularly in the music, visual art, and moralités inspired by or composed on the secular chanson Comme femme desconfortée, by Gilles Binchois (ca. 1400-1460). I will present the polyphonic setting of the Stabat Mater by Franco-Flemish composer Josquin de Prez (ca. 1440-1521) as prime example of the use of secular imagery in an effort to “humanize” the Virgin Mother, paradoxically reinforcing her sainthood.
    Includes the author's transcriptions of Gilles Binchois Comme femme desconfortée and of Josquin Desprez's Stabat Mater.
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago


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