Catherine A. Bradley is Associate Professor in Music at The University of Oslo. She received her Ph.D. from The University of Cambridge in 2011. Following a postdoctoral position as a Research Fellow at The Queen’s College Oxford, she was an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 2015, C.A. Bradley was a Visiting Fellow at St Catherine’s College Oxford and she was awarded the Music & Letters Westrup Prize in 2013. Her forthcoming monograph, Plainsong Made Polyphonic: Compositional Process in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge University Press) challenges traditional evolutionary narratives of the genre of the motet though close analytical engagement with surviving musical evidence.
Polyphonic music before 1300, especially thirteenth-century motets; music-text relationships; questions of chronology, genre, and compositional process; intersections between sacred and secular cultures and orality and literacy.
Benedicamus Domino (800-1500)
The joyful closing formula Benedicamus Domino (“Let us bless the Lord”) resounded in song several times a day in medieval churches. This was a special moment of musical freedom and creativity in the middle ages: singers of sacred plainchant melodies could choose to reprise a favorite tune to accompany the words Benedicamus Domino. In consequence, early twelfth-century experiments in the new musical art of polyphony—now elaborating simple monophonic plainchant melodies by the addition of accompanying voices—focused on precisely this text from the Christian liturgy, sparking a rich compositional tradition that flourished for the next four-hundred years. Innovatively placing a particular liturgical moment at the center of the narrative, my book project charts, for the first time, a history of musical practices and compositions for the Benedicamus Domino from 800-1500, thereby traversing and challenging established disciplinary, chronological, generic, geographical, and historiographical boundaries.