AbstractMachaut’s Dissonances – The present text conceptualizes the use of dissonances in Guillaume de Machaut’s music from a historical perspective. As the 14th-century theory of contrapunctus excludes dissonances from compositional technique, the examination of dissonance in the context of contrapunctus diminutus must be understood as a justification of its very presence, not a set of rules for its use. Instead of rules, we find a doctrine of figuration that works with fixed melodic building-blocks, presented in the Berkeley manuscript with verbula (little words). Through the use of these melodic building-blocks, the dissonances are integrated very naturally into the textures. Examining Machaut’s two-part ballads in particular, the present text lays out a figurational vocabulary of melodic and rhythmic phrases as well as a further diminution technique, namely syncopation. Both techniques are applied without restrictions to the music’s vertical dimension. Hence the use of dissonances is only indirectly regulated via the stylistic boundaries of figuration.