France Music During The Middle Ages

By | January 18, 2022

Secular music. – According to, the liveliest splendor of French music occurred in the Middle Ages together with the flourishing of sculpture and architecture in the century. XII and in the XIII. Already in the century. X music was in great honor in monasteries and churches: main centers, S. Martial of Limoges, Rouen, Saint-Denis, Soissons, Paris and Reims, where Gerbert (later Pope Sylvester II), rector of that famous Schola, towards the 980 was concerned with perfecting the organs: among his disciples was King Robert the Pious. Baudry of Dol was also involved in the construction of the organs; in the abbey of Fécamp the abbot William of Dijon established the first brotherhood of jongleurs, who played during the officiating of the monks; also in Fécamp began the practice of a new species of organum, in which, having abandoned the crosstalk, one of the voices played long vocalizations while the other (often entrusted to the organ) played the tenor part in long notes. The notation of Gregorian chants (perhaps under the influence of the Parisian school) became more precise through the adoption of the staff; reform that had ardent propagator Guido d’Arezzo (v.). Other advances were made in the century. XI.

In the meantime the profane was developing on the fringes of religious music. The first songs we have date back to the 11th century and have a Latin text; mostly goliardic songs celebrating spring and love. With the flourishing of languages d’ocand d ‘oil, poetry and music flourish: songs in the form of pastiurelle, of sirventese, of jeu parti, are sung now on an aria already known, now on a new aria found by the author. Troubadours and troubadours sometimes perform their own songs, more often they have them performed by paid professionals, the jongleurs. Later some jesters become troubadours.

Nothing remains of the musical work of William IX, Count of Poitiers and the profane works of Abelard have been lost, to whom however is attributed that delightful prose of popular intonation, Mittit ad Virginem whose melody was used in many French verses. Trovieri and troubadours also composed dance songs that were often performed on instruments: carole, rondelli, ballads (with choral reprise of the refrain), stampite, branlesvirelais, etc. Very little also remains of the considerable production of the troubadours of the century. XII: Bernard de Ventadour, Rambaud de Vaqueiras, Jaufré Rudel, Marcabru, Gaucelm Faidit; while the few remaining songs of the oldest trophies (Gace Brulé, the castellan of Coucy, Conon de Béthune, Huon d’Oisy, Blondeau de Nesle, Gautier de Dargies, Montot d’Arras, Regnault), show poetic ingenuity and are d ‘ a delicious melodic freshness.

All these songs, in which the rhythm of the melody responds to that of the verse, are sung in three rhythmic modes: the first, composed of trochei, and the second, of iambs, are composed in a three-beat measure; the third, formed of three-syllable groups, corresponds to our 6 / 4.

At the beginning of the century XIII we are witnessing a magnificent flowering. It is the time when Perotino the Great begins polyphonic art. Troubadours and troubadours, however, content themselves with purifying the style of their ancestors into a less powerful, but more chiseled and precious art. The Arras troubadour group stands out among all: Gauthier de Coincy in the Miracles de Notre – Dame he inserts a series of religious songs, part of his own, part of him adapted to new texts, and marvelous for naive grace. The last of the great troubadours, Guiraut Riquier, who traveled to the “Saracen” country, found melodic accents of a wholly oriental color. Greater emotion and grandeur in the masters of the South than in those of the North, grouped around Thibaut de Champagne (1201-1253), and lovers mostly of slender and lively songs. We will mention Jean Bretel, Jehannet de l’Escurel, the famous Hunchback of Arras, Adam de la Halle; the latter practicing the polyphonic style. The influence of the art of the troubadours and troubadours is felt throughout Europe; Alfonso the Wise of Castile composes troubadour style songs and hosts Guillaume Riquier; in Italy the songs from France are sung everywhere, while renewing them according to the national melodic genius; in Germany i Minnesänger adopt the French troubadour notation, when in France it has already been abandoned for some time.

Holy music. – In the sec. XII, the discanto appears in France, which replaces the parallel motion with the opposite motion. The second voice moves towards greater independence and superimposes real melisms and ornaments on the main song. Also in this time one begins to practice the false staff (perhaps invented in England) with its sequences of sixths and thirds. The idea of ​​composing in several parts may certainly have derived in Perotino from the songs imported into France by English pupils of the Parisian schools; but in concrete terms Perotino’s style does not at all resemble the way of singing of the English of the time, and indeed English art hastens to imitate his innovations. Do not forget that Perotino like his predecessor Leonino was an organist and the organ is the polyphonic instrument par excellence. organum, discanto, false staff); he determined the laws concerning the relationship of the different intervals and found a notation which specifies the absolute value of each note and which, variously improved, is the basis of modern notation. After Perotino, the evolving Ars nova attracts musicians from all over Europe to Paris. The organist Pierre de la Croix (Petrus de Cruce), the two Francons, Philippe de Vitry and Jean de Muris still perfect the notation. Guillaume de Machaut summarizes, continues and concludes the work of the troubadours and the first polyphonists; his brilliant and fruitful work inspires the musicians of the century. XV, and his Mass, monument of the Gothic musical genius, becomes the model of the masses written in the following century.

France Music During The Middle Ages