Back To CourseMusic 101: Help and Review
11 chapters | 355 lessons
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Liz has taught music for K-12 and beyond. She holds a master's degree in Education Media and Design Technology.
Narrator: Like sand through the hourglass, so are the love songs of our medieval lives. Last time, on 'Songs of Our Medieval Lives.'
Troubadour: I know that I am only a troubadour, a poet-musician of the Royal Court, but I cannot deny my love for you, Countess.
Countess: My husband, the Count, must never know of this. I can never accept your love, but in our 12th and 13th century traditions, I will allow you to woo me with your songs of love and chivalry.
Troubadour: For you, I will always sing songs of unrequited love. As a troubadour, I know that I am here for musical entertainment and to inspire and celebrate crusaders, but like most troubadours, my heart sings for those I cannot attain. As you know, I'm also a knight and though I will stay around this court for a while, I will not be here forever, and I will travel to other courts in my life's journey of music and battle.
Countess: Yes, it is strange how in such a rigid social structure such as ours, you troubadours have such varied roles. You could have been from high nobility - even a king - or from lower social classes and enjoy the privileges of noble life just based on your talents. I wish you could stay forever, but I know you must go.
Countess: Since we are here in the south of France, you are called a troubadour, but when you travel, how will you be known?
Troubadour: It depends where I go. If I end up in northern France, I'll be referred to as a trouvère. If I cross the hills to Germany, I'll be called a minnesinger.
Countess: But who will provide our music when you are gone?
Troubadour: Well, you could do it, but if you did, you'd be called a trobairitz, since a trobairitz is a female troubadour.
Countess: Eh, no thanks. I don't think I could make the songs sound as beautiful as you do. How do you do it?
Troubadour: Well, technically, my songs are known as chansons, which simply means 'song' in French. Generally, my songs are monophonic, meaning just one musical part without harmony. This allows me to give emphasis to the lyrics. Sometimes I add an instrumental part, but it often doubles the melody. I might use an instrument such as a lute, which would allow me to sing and play simultaneously.
Countess: But where do you get your melodies?
Troubadour: Some of my melodies are based on Latin sacred melodies. But more often than that, I tend to use more different types of notes than medieval church music, since we aren't tied to such stringent rules. I write music in several different forms, but the most common form is strophic, which means each stanza has the same melody, but with different text. The melodies are also written to accommodate the words, which I carefully craft to get my point across.
Countess: And exactly what do you write about? I mean, besides me.
Troubadour: I am most known for singing songs of unrequited love, from courting unattainable women who are either of higher rank or already wed. Sometimes the focus is on the joy of true love, and other times it is the sorrow from rejection. However, I also sing about chivalry and morals, something which is unconventional for our time period.
Countess: But don't you sing to entertain as well? These don't seem like the topics of entertainment for all of the royal court. You mustn't sing to me when others are around, or the king will have your head!
Troubadour: You're right. Fortunately, I also sing satirical songs, usually about politics. Some are racy and humorously inappropriate. I imagine this trend will continue in the future.
Countess: Oh my, the Church must not like that very much.
Troubadour: No, not really, and they don't like my songs of philosophy or eroticism either, since both encourage thinking outside the Church's ideals. They can, however, support my songs about crusades. The tales I sing of battle and victory of the Crusades are thought to be inspiring and righteous. Surely you've heard some of these songs from my colleagues.
Countess: Well, I did have a number of affairs, I mean, encounters with other troubadours before you arrived in our court. I remember a certain Bernart de Ventadorn from the mid-1100s to 1200s.
Troubadour: Ah, yes, Bernart is one of the most well-known troubadours of our time. The court fortune teller told me that in the future, he will have the most surviving pieces of all troubadours.
Countess: Or perhaps your lady friend, Beatriz de Dia, the 12th century trobairitz who composed and sang 'A Chantar', about a betrayed love who defends herself.
Troubadour: She is only my friend, dear Countess. What about Adam de la Halle? His contributions of multi-part songs are revolutionary.
Countess: Yes, and his musical play Jeu de Robin et Marion is one of the first French plays with music.
Servant (from afar): Countess! Your husband has just arrived to the castle. He will be seeing you in five minutes.
Countess: Oh no! Troubadour, though you have been a great poet-musician of the Royal Court, you must go!
Troubadour: Yes, I must, and as a knight, I know not where my travels will take me. If I am in southern France, I'll be called a troubadour. If I am in northern France, I'll be called a trouvère, and if I cross into Germany, I'll be called a minnesinger. I am certain I will meet troubadours of high and low classes wherever I go. Perhaps I will even find a trobairitz, or female troubadour to sing with. We can write chansons of unrequited love, chivalry, satire and politics, and although we may be angering the Church, our contributions to music and thought might even be powerful enough to usher in the next musical time period. Goodbye, my love. I shall always love you.
Countess: But wait!
Narrator: Will the troubadour ever find true love? Will the Countess be enticed by yet another poet-musician? It is these questions and more that spin the tales of 'Songs of Our Medieval Lives'.
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Back To CourseMusic 101: Help and Review
11 chapters | 355 lessons