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Medieval Chanson and Moniot d'Arras

Terms

Chanson
The chanson was a French song, a popular genre in which trouvères and troubadours combined their poetry with music. Common topics for the chanson included love and unfulfilled desire, but political and humorous topics were also used
Troubadours
The troubadours were travelling poet-musicians who flourished in the royal courts who were from Southern France
Trouvères
The Trouvères were travelling poet-musicians from Northern France who flourished in the royal courts
Strophic Form
The Trouvère and Troubadour chansons were often written in Strophic form in which each stanza of the poem was sung to the same melody
Psaltery
The Psaltery was an early instrument, even mentioned in the Bible, which was a folk instrument which had strings that were plucked and stretched over a sound box
Dulcimer
The Dulcimer was similar to the psaltery but its strings were struck with hammers rather than plucked
Vielle
The vielle was a bow stringed instrument which is an ancestor of the violin

Moniot d’Arras (fl. 1213-1239)

A French monk who composed songs in the Trouvère style. He wrote both sacred and secular vocal works, his music marked the end of the trouvère tradition.

“Ce fut en mai”

Meter: Compound Form: Strophic, A-A-B-B for each stanza This charming French chanson was written in the trouvère tradition. “Ce fut en mai” (“It Happened in May”) was written about a disheartened lover who discovers a pair of lovers and finds comfort in their condolences. The rhyme structure for the song is a-a-b-a-a-b-c-c-b-c-c-b which is presented in each of the five stanzas. The upbeat character of the chanson does not reflect the disheartened text. The texture of the piece is a lightly accompanied melodic line: monophonic.

All information on this article is derived from: Joseph Machlis and Kristine Forney. The Enjoyment of Music, Eight Edition, Standard Version, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999. Janet Lopinski, Joe Ringhofer, and Peteris Zarins. Exploring Music History, A Guided Approach, Mississauga, Ontario: Frederick Harris Music Co., Limited
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