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Sat, Mar 20


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Troubadours and trouvères: the inventors of song


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Troubadours and trouvères: the inventors of song
Troubadours and trouvères: the inventors of song

Heure et lieu

Mar 20, 2021, 6:00 PM

Live on our Youtube channel

À propos de l'événement

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The birth of song in France during the Romanesque period (late 11th, 12th century) is a significant event in our artistic history. It magnificently illustrates the aspirations of feudal society for a refined art of living, its desires, its tensions. The song, like the novel which was born at the same time in the same courts and sometimes under the same feathers, became the archetypal expression of feudal society. It reveals to us the mentalities and sensitivities of the men and women of this time so distant during which one tries to discipline the savagery and the violence of ancient times thanks to courtly love.

The troubadours in the south of France and the trouvères in the north, each in their respective language, are therefore the first to have dared to express their earthly passions in their everyday language and no longer in Latin. For this, they invent a new artistic form and the name to name it: “canso” in Occitan, “chançon” in oïl, a strophic form with or without a chorus, but sung to original melodies.

If courtly love is the main concern, a distant, inaccessible and sublimated love, their poems nevertheless tackle many other subjects, political or religious, highlighted by a wide variety of contrasting genres: songs of the crusade, canvas, women's , dawn, game-party, reverdie, pastourelle, sirventois, lay, rondeau, religious or dance song.

The poems sung during our program are written in everyday language:   the langue d'oc for troubadours and the langue d'oïl for trouvères. Singing these songs in these 2 vigorous languages, ancestors of the one we use every day, is for us the best way to understand this era and to be touched by these centuries so far removed from us and from our modern sensibility.

If the song of the troubadours was born in a "courteous" atmosphere, within the feudal courts of the 12th century, this feudal movement was already in full decline in the 13th century and at least experienced profound upheavals. In a rapid and vigorous dash, society became urbanized and secularized. The courts scattered throughout the country are losing their economic, political and social influence. It is the rise to power of new places of power, new centers of attraction, the emergence of new social categories: the towns and their bourgeoisie, the convents and their clerics in the forefront of which figure the Mendicant Orders. In this context, the art of the troubadours became scarce, gradually disappearing and that of the minstrels evolved considerably. If he continues to cultivate the high style of the aristocratic love song invented by the troubadours, he leaves more room for simpler styles, which in no way means "popular". The trouvère's song leaves the court to reach towns and convents; it nevertheless remains, with rare exceptions, a scholarly artistic expression, addressed to educated circles, capable of appreciating it, practicing it, hearing it.

Since the creation of the ensemble, Diabolus in Musica has made a specialty of the repertoire of troubadours and trouvères. The attentive examination of the manuscripts which have transmitted these magnificent songs to us is still the basis of our work, in order to restore this music as faithfully as possible. What we know reliably about the performance conditions of the time, about its cultural atmosphere, has led us to make choices: the singing is essentially a soloist when it comes to aristocratic songs, the instrumental accompaniment also , when there is one. The atmosphere must be intimate, almost elitist, since it is necessary to imagine a court, a poet reciting his verses in front of only a few people, likely to be able to taste the refinements of his compositions. Then, during the 13th century in the cities of northern France, the simpler styles seemed to admit more different numbers.

Far from being stammerings or clumsy sketches, the songs of the troubadours and trouvères constitute an impressive and brilliant corpus as much by the delicacy of the poems as by their melodic inventiveness.

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