Se la face ay pale,
Se ay pesante male
C'est la plus reale
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The ballade ( // ; not to be confused with the ballad) is a form of medieval and Renaissance French poetry as well as the corresponding musical chanson form. It was one of the three formes fixes (the other two were the rondeau and the virelai) and one of the verse forms in France most commonly set to music between the late 13th and the 15th centuries.
The formes fixes were standard forms in French-texted song of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The ballade is usually in three stanzas, each ending with a refrain (a repeated segment of text and music).
The ballade as a verse form typically consists of three eight-line stanzas, each with a consistent metre and a particular rhyme scheme. The last line in the stanza is a refrain. The stanzas are often followed by a four-line concluding stanza (an envoi ) usually addressed to a prince. The rhyme scheme is therefore usually ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC bcbC, where the capital "C" is a refrain.
The many different rhyming words that are needed (the 'b' rhyme needs at least fourteen words) makes the form more difficult for English than for French poets. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the form. It was revived in the 19th century by English-language poets including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. Other notable English-language ballade writers are Andrew Lang, Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton (at Wikisource). A humorous example is Wendy Cope's 'Proverbial Ballade'.
The musical form of a ballade stanza is a bar form (AAB), with a first, repeated musical section (stollen) setting the two initial pairs of verses (rhymes "ab–ab"), and the second section (abgesang) setting the remaining lines including the refrain verse ("bcbC"). The two statements of the "A" section often have different endings, known as "ouvert" and "clos" respectively, with the harmony of the "ouvert" ending leading back to the beginning and that of the "clos" ending leading forward into the "B" section. In many ballades, the final part of the "B" section may reintroduce melodic material referring back to the end of the "A" part, a feature known as "musical rhyme" (or, in German, Rücklaufballade). An alternative form employed by Machaut, known as ballade duplex or balladelle, has the B part also divided into two repetitions, with the refrain line sung as part of the repetition.
A famous exception to the normal form is "Se la face ay pale" by Guillaume Dufay, where the entire stanza is through-composed, i.e. without a repetition between the two "A" sections.
Guillaume de Machaut wrote 42 ballades set to music. A few of them set two or even three poems to music simultaneously, with different texts sung in different voices. Most of the others have a single texted voice with either one or two untexted (instrumental) accompanying voices. One of the most notable writers of ballades in the 15th century was François Villon.
There are many easy-to-identify variations to the ballade; it is in many ways similar to the ode and chant royal. Some ballades have five stanzas. A seven-line ballade, or ballade royal, consists of four stanzas of rhyme royal, all using the same three rhymes, all ending in a refrain, without an envoi.
A ballade supreme has ten-line stanzas rhyming ababbccdcD, with the envoi ccdcD or ccdccD. An example is Ballade des Pendus by François Villon. There are also instances of a double ballade and double-refrain ballade.
A sestina is a fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, normally followed by a three-line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern.
A villanelle, also known as villanesque, is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately at the end of each subsequent stanza until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The villanelle is an example of a fixed verse form. The word derives from Latin, then Italian, and is related to the initial subject of the form being the pastoral.
François Villon is the best known French poet of the Late Middle Ages. He was involved in criminal behavior and had multiple encounters with law enforcement authorities. Villon wrote about some of these experiences in his poems.
Guillaume de Machaut was a French poet and composer of late Medieval music who was the central figure of the ars nova style. Immensely influential, Machaut is regarded as the most important composer and poet of the 14th century and is the first significant composer whose name is known. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson called him "the last great poet who was also a composer", and well into the 15th century Machaut's poetry was greatly admired and imitated by other poets, including Geoffrey Chaucer.
Guillaume Du Fay was a Franco-Flemish composer and music theorist of the early Renaissance. Regarded as the leading European composer by his contemporaries, his music was widely performed and copied. Du Fay held various music positions during his lifetime, and was associated with the Burgundian School as well as among the first composers, or at least a predecessor to the Franco-Flemish School.
The ballata is an Italian poetic and musical form in use from the late 13th to the 15th century. It has the musical structure AbbaA, with the first and last stanzas having the same texts. It is thus most similar to the French musical 'forme fixe' virelai. The first and last "A" is called a ripresa, the "b" lines are piedi (feet), while the fourth line is called a "volta". Longer ballate may be found in the form AbbaAbbaA, etc. Unlike the virelai, the two "b" lines usually have exactly the same music and only in later ballate pick up the first and second endings. The term comes from the verb ballare, to dance, and the form certainly began as dance music.
Strophic form – also called verse-repeating form, chorus form, AAA song form, or one-part song form – is a song structure in which all verses or stanzas of the text are sung to the same music. The opposite of strophic form, with new music written for every stanza, is called through-composed.
F. Andrieu was a French composer in the ars nova style of late medieval music. Nothing is known for certain about him except that he wrote Armes, amours/O flour des flours, a double ballade déploration, for the death of Guillaume de Machaut in 1377. The work has been widely praised and analyzed; it is notable for being one of two extant medieval double ballades for four voices, the only known contemporary musical setting of Eustache Deschamps and the earliest representative of the longstanding medieval and Renaissance lamentation tradition between composers. He may be the same person as Magister Franciscus, although the scholarly consensus on this identification is unclear. With P. des Molins, Jehan Vaillant and Grimace, Andrieu was one of the "post-Machaut" generation whose pieces retain enough ars nova qualities to be differentiated from composers of ars subtilior.
A lai is a lyrical, narrative poem written in octosyllabic couplets that often deals with tales of adventure and romance. Lais were mainly composed in France and Germany, during the 13th and 14th centuries. The English term lay is a 13th-century loan from Old French lai. The origin of the French term itself is unclear; perhaps it is itself a loan from German Leich .The terms note, nota and notula appear to have been synonyms for lai.
The Burgundian School was a group of composers active in the 15th century in what is now northern and eastern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, centered on the court of the Dukes of Burgundy.
A virelai is a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music. It is one of the three formes fixes and was one of the most common verse forms set to music in Europe from the late thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries.
French poetry is a category of French literature. It may include Francophone poetry composed outside France and poetry written in other languages of France.
A rondeau is a form of medieval and Renaissance French poetry, as well as the corresponding musical chanson form. Together with the ballade and the virelai it was considered one of the three formes fixes, and one of the verse forms in France most commonly set to music between the late 13th and the 15th centuries. It is structured around a fixed pattern of repetition of material involving a refrain. The rondeau is believed to have originated in dance songs involving alternating singing of the refrain elements by a group and of the other lines by a soloist. The term "Rondeau" is today used both in a wider sense, covering several older variants of the form – which are sometimes distinguished as the triolet and rondel – and in a narrower sense referring to a 15-line variant which developed from these forms in the 15th and 16th centuries. The rondeau is unrelated with the much later instrumental dance form that shares the same name in French baroque music, which is an instance of what is more commonly called the rondo form in classical music.
Solage, possibly Jean So(u)lage, was a French composer, and probably also a poet. He composed the most pieces in the Chantilly Codex, the principal source of music of the ars subtilior, the manneristic compositional school centered on Avignon at the end of the century.
The music history of France runs from as far back as the 10th century to today's modern music. French music originated as a unified style in medieval times, focusing around the Notre-Dame school of composers. This group developed the motet, a specific musical composition. Troubadours and trouvères soon began touring France, composing and performing many original songs. The styles of ars nova and ars subtilior sprung up in the 14th century, both of which focused on secular songs. As Europe moved into the Renaissance age, the music of France continued to evolve. The popularity of French music in the rest of Europe declined slightly, yet the popular chanson and the old motet were further developed during this time. The epicenter of French music moved from Paris to Burgundy, as it followed the Burgundian School of composers. During the Baroque period, music was simplified and restricted due to Calvinist influence. The air de cour then became the primary style of French music, as it was secular and preferred by the royal court.
The formes fixes are the three fourteenth- and fifteenth-centuries French poetic forms: the ballade, rondeau and virelai. Each was also a musical form, generally a chanson, and all consisted of a complex pattern of repetition of verses and a refrain with musical content in two main sections.
Grimace was a French poet and composer of the ars nova style in late medieval music. Virtually nothing is known about Grimace's life other than speculative information based on the circumstances and content of his five surviving compositions of formes fixes; three ballades, a virelai and rondeau. He is though to have been a contemporary of Guillaume de Machaut and based in southern France. Three of his works were included in the Chantilly Codex, which is an important source of ars subtilior music. However, along with P. des Molins, Jehan Vaillant and F. Andrieu, Grimace was one of the post-Machaut generation whose music shows few distinctly ars subtilior features, leading scholars to recognize Grimace's work as closer to the ars nova style of Machaut. His most often performed work is the virelai and proto-battaglia: A l’arme A l’arme.
Antonello da Caserta, also Anthonello de Casetta, Antonellus Marot, was an Italian composer of the medieval era, active in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
Le Testament is a collection of poetry composed in 1461 by François Villon. Le Testament, comprising over twenty essentially independent poems in octosyllabic verse, consists of a series of fixed-form poems, namely 16 ballades and three rondeaux, and is recognized as a gem of medieval literature.
Formed in 2000, the Musica Nova ensemble unites singers and musicians under the artistic direction of singer and conductor Lucien Kandel. A passionate quest in search of emotion through music drives the group to produce a diverse musical programme. From the Middles Age to Baroque, Musica Nova departs into various musical periods and universes. The ensemble approaches its music with an eye for historical accuracy, through the use of original manuscripts. Working with the documents from the era is conducted with reflection upon the musical rules of the time as well as the intended nuances of the pieces. The singers and musicians read their music in facsimile and their interpretation of it is thus inevitably modified. The result is a sound, a movement, a line, which makes Musica Nova so exceptionally rich and vibrant; the acoustic of which transports the listener; temporally and spiritually. The Musica Nova Ensemble appears on prestigious stages in France and all over the world. Recordings of their works are available, some of which have set the standard for current adaptations of the musical style.