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date: 18 August 2019

Conductus (Lat., from conducere: ‘to escort’, ‘to guide’; pl. conductus, conducti)locked

  • Janet Knapp


(Lat., from conducere: ‘to escort’, ‘to guide’; pl. conductus, conducti)

A medieval song with a serious, usually sacred, text in Latin verse. The genre seems to have originated in the south of France near the end of the 12th century. Taken up by the Parisian composers of Notre Dame, it flourished with great brilliance from about 1160 to about 1240. It was superseded in the second half of the 13th century by the motet. A handful of new conductus from the 14th century are peripheral, chiefly German in origin.

The word ‘conductus’ first appears in mid-12th-century sources. It is found in E-Mn 289 (c1140) above nine songs, several of which are introductions to lessons. Resonet intonet, for example, concludes with an exhortation to the congregation to prepare itself for the reading of the scriptures:

Munda sit, pura sit hec ergo concio,

Audiat, sentiat quid dicat lectio.

The presumption is that such a piece was sung as the lectionary was carried to the place appointed for the reading....

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