Commission Music

Commission Music
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Saturday, 25 October 2003

Research status

The manuscript of the play, La Misterie du Siege d' Orleans, does not have any sheet music with it, nor any ornamentation of any kind. However, it does have many, many pauses that were intended to be filled with music. Many of these pauses contain instructions for orchestration. The most common instruments mentioned are trumpets, bugles and organ. No 15th century document even mentions the play. The librarian at the Joan of Arc center says that it has never been performed in it's current form. some scholars believe that it is not really a play, but rather a collection of smaller action vignettes associated with the annual May 8th festivities commemorating the raising of the siege. This hypothesis seems logical, given the evidence above and also because no-one has really been able to date the manuscript. Parts of it seem to be written right after the siege and other parts appear to date from later years.

The play (or series of processional events) seems to have been written for the entire town to take part in. entire battles are re-acted out. It calls for thousands of actors. Part of the town is supposed to be set ablaze for it. It would take several days to stage it in it's entirety. and it has over a hundred "major" characters.

The play certainly grew out of the May 8th processions, whether or not it was just a collection of past processional events. It's possible that musical sources for it were battle songs, hymns and some courtly processional music. the librarian at the Joan of Arc Center (whose name I wish I had gotten), says that all of these sources are lost. there is some evidence around the music at the cathedral, however.

For my paper, I intend to analyze the instrumentation in connection with the action. I'm going to read _Aspects of Genre in Late Medieval French Drama_ by Alan Knight and talk to Professor Alden to figure out what to do with this.

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