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Text and Tune

On the Association of Music and Lyrics in Sung Verse


Edited By Teresa Proto, Paolo Canettieri and Gianluca Valenti

This book offers an overview of issues related to the regulated, formal organization of sound and speech in verse intended for singing. Particularly, it is concerned with the structural properties and underlying mechanisms involved in the association of lyrics and music. While in spoken verse the underlying metrical scheme is grounded in the prosody of the language in which it is composed, in sung verse the structure is created by the mapping of specific prosodic units of the text (syllables, moras, tones, etc.) onto the rhythmic-melodic structure provided by the tune. Studying how this mapping procedure takes place across different musical genres and styles is valuable for what it can add to our knowledge of language and music in general, and also for what it can teach us about individual languages and poetic traditions. In terms of empirical coverage, the collection includes a wide variety of (Western) languages and metrical/musical forms, ranging from the Latin hexameter to the Norwegian stev, from the French chant courtois to the Sardinian mutetu longu. Readers interested in formal analyses of vocal music, or in metrics and linguistics, will find useful insights here.
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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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