Academic journal article Medium Aevum

La Cloche et la Lyre: Pour Une Poétique Médiévale Du Paysage Sonore

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

La Cloche et la Lyre: Pour Une Poétique Médiévale Du Paysage Sonore

Article excerpt

Jean-Marie Fritz, La Cloche et la lyre: Pour une poétique médiévale du paysage sonore (Geneva: Droz, 2011). 465 pp. ISBN 978-2-600-01474-8. $67.20.

The notion of a soundscape, or sonic landscape, was first discussed by Murray Schafer in The Tuning of the World, but was popularized more recently by Bruce R. Smith's influential book The Acoustic World of Early Modern England. In La Cloche et la lyre, Jean-Marie Fritz describes the soundscape of medieval French literature. Through an impressive range of Old French and Latin texts spanning the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, Fritz systematically addresses the representation of sound in epic, lyric, and romance, with further reference to classical poetry, Scripture, scholastic writings, and hagiography. Fritz argues that prior studies have taken an excessively visual approach; his aim is to read medieval literature as though it were a musical score, reviving the lost sounds of rushing streams, street cries, birdsong, the clash of arms, trumpet fanfares, and the singing voice (pp. 9f.). La Cloche et la lyre unquestionably succeeds in this aim.

La Cloche et la lyre explores the representation of sound from a variety of perspectives. Fritz begins by examining sound through the lens of genre (chapter 1), then traces its development across the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in response to technological inventions such as the clock and canon (chapter 2). He also examines individual authors who create soundscapes unique to their oeuvre (chapter 3). Fritz explores how sound is described in space and time (chapter 4). He notes that authors mould sound into hierarchies of high and low (chapter 5) and that they use sound to demarcate intimate indoor spaces from the outdoors (chapter 6). After developing the contours of the medieval soundscape, Fritz examines the techniques through which medieval poets represented sound, particularly their reliance on onomatopoeia and analogy (chapters 7 and 8). Finally, he draws an analogy between the medieval poetics of sound and musiccompositional devices such as theme and variations, the overture and coda, and dynamic changes (chapter 9). …

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