On the Association of Music and Lyrics in Sung Verse
M’es belhs dous chans: Melody, metre and imagery in a ‘love verse’ of early troubadours
This study is meant to contribute to enhance modern scholastic knowledge about composing melodies and songs at the beginning of the courtly culture in Europe during the twelfth century. A melodic progression found in the extant transcriptions of melodies attributed to a few twelfth century troubadours seems to acquire a special value in the poetical interplay between the poets, and allows us to confirm once more how much the music contributed to their awareness of their own and other authors’ value.
Several musical studies have encouraged a rethinking of the idea that the troubadours’ melodic repertory included an indistinct series of formulae, insensitive to the meaning of literary texts set to music. This is what music historians have sometimes claimed, but the prejudice of formularity in such repertories can be corrected (Arlt 1986:175–76). Since troubadours are now generally acknowledged as having each a specific authorial individuality on a literary level (Mölk 2009), then a research line investigating those individualities in relation to the invention of melodies can become all the more relevant, especially because of the connection between literary and musical levels.1
Elizabeth Aubrey presented an extensive study of troubadours’ melodies. She attempted to define stylistic features of and differences between generations of troubadours and single troubadours. Many ideas have arisen from this study, also concerning the relationship between words and melodies. Although problems of methodology and interpretation are commonly admitted by scholars studying this field, including Aubrey herself, her study...
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