Somehow the French musical tradition has always been interesting to me. I don’t mean the famous French Chansons though, even though the title of this record suggests that. Guillaume de Machaut was born in the fourteenth century, so he’s hardly comparable with the modern chansons.
Yet this music still shares the light touch of those later chansons. It has colour and a energy entirely of its own. Guillaume de Machaut was a fourteenth century musical pioneer: he sought new ways of creating music, in the style of the Ars Nova.
The meaning of the word here is a bit unclear: on the one hand it is a change from the preceding Ars Antiqua (the old style), but on the other it refers to the whole fourteenth century polyphonic music. New ways of writing the music gave composers new ideas, resulting in daring rhythmic structures that were not even thought of before.
De Machaut was at the center of that. French music from here onwards will only get more interesting.