The grand chant (courtois) or, in modern French, (grande) chanson courtoise or chanson d'amour, was a genre of Old French lyric poetry devised by the trouvères. It was adopted from the Occitan canso of the troubadours, but scholars stress that it was a distinct genre. The predominant theme of the grand chant was courtly love, but topics were more broad than in the canso, especially after the thirteenth century. The monophonic grand chant of the High Middle Ages (12th–13th centuries) was in many respects the predecessor of the polyphonic chanson of the Late Middle Ages (14th–15th centuries).
Medieval music encompasses the sacred and secular music of Western Europe during the Middle Ages, from approximately the 6th to 15th centuries. It is the first and longest major era of Western classical music and followed by the Renaissance music; the two eras comprise what musicologists generally term as early music, preceding the common practice period. Following the traditional division of the Middle Ages, medieval music can be divided into Early (500–1150), High (1000–1300), and Late (1300–1400) medieval music.
A troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word troubadour is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz.
Courtly love was a medieval European literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various deeds or services for ladies because of their "courtly love". This kind of love is originally a literary fiction created for the entertainment of the nobility, but as time passed, these ideas about love changed and attracted a larger audience. In the high Middle Ages, a "game of love" developed around these ideas as a set of social practices. "Loving nobly" was considered to be an enriching and improving practice.
In music, monophony is the simplest of musical textures, consisting of a melody, typically sung by a single singer or played by a single instrument player without accompanying harmony or chords. Many folk songs and traditional songs are monophonic. A melody is also considered to be monophonic if a group of singers sings the same melody together at the unison or with the same melody notes duplicated at the octave. If an entire melody is played by two or more instruments or sung by a choir with a fixed interval, such as a perfect fifth, it is also said to be monophony. The musical texture of a song or musical piece is determined by assessing whether varying components are used, such as an accompaniment part or polyphonic melody lines.
The chanson de geste is a medieval narrative, a type of epic poem that appears at the dawn of French literature. The earliest known poems of this genre date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, shortly before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the troubadours and trouvères, and the earliest verse romances. They reached their highest point of acceptance in the period 1150–1250.
A chanson is generally any lyric-driven French song, though it most often refers to the polyphonic French song of late medieval and Renaissance music. The genre had origins in the monophonic songs of troubadours and trouvères, though the only polyphonic precedents were 16 works by Adam de la Halle and one by Jehan de Lescurel. Not until the ars nova composer Guillaume de Machaut did any composer write a significant number of polyphonic chansons.
As a literary genre of high culture, heroic romance or chivalric romance is a type of prose and verse narrative that was popular in the noble courts of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a chivalric knight-errant portrayed as having heroic qualities, who goes on a quest. It developed further from the epics as time went on; in particular, "the emphasis on love and courtly manners distinguishes it from the chanson de geste and other kinds of epic, in which masculine military heroism predominates."
Bernart de Ventadorn was a prominent troubadour of the classical age of troubadour poetry. Now thought of as "the Master Singer," he developed the cançons into a more formalized style which allowed for sudden turns. He is remembered for his mastery as well as popularisation of the trobar leu style, and for his prolific cançons, which helped define the genre and establish the "classical" form of courtly love poetry, to be imitated and reproduced throughout the remaining century and a half of troubadour activity.
Colin Muset was an Old French trouvère and a native of Lorraine. He made his living in the Champagne by travelling from castle to castle singing songs of his own composition and playing the vielle. These are not confined to the praise of courtly love that formed the usual topic of the trouvères, but contain many details of a jongleur's life. His complete works are eighteen: nine attributed in chansonniers, three self-referencing, and six whose attributions are based on modern scholarship. Twenty one poems credited to him were edited and published by Joseph Bédier in 1912 (Paris). Two further editions appeared in 2005: one by Callahan and Rosenberg with translations into modern French, and, with translations into Italian, an edition by Massimiliano Chiamenti, which reduced his authentic corpus to sixteen poems. Oxford Music online, lists 12 songs. Nine of his poems have surviving music. Seven are chansons jongleuresques, that is, songs describing the life of a jongleur. His three serventois condemn the avarice of the nobility, but his moralising is balanced by self-deprecating humour. He also wrote two descorts, one lai, and one cynical tenson with Jacques d'Amiens.
Medieval French literature is, for the purpose of this article, Medieval literature written in Oïl languages during the period from the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth century.
France has a rich music history that was already prominent in Europe as far back as the 10th century. 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. Notable in the high Middle Ages were the 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 evolved in sophistication. 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 trobairitz were Occitan female troubadours of the 12th and 13th centuries, active from around 1170 to approximately 1260. Trobairitz is both singular and plural.
Trouvère, sometimes spelled trouveur, is the Northern French form of the langue d'oc (Occitan) word trobador, the precursor of the modern French word troubadour. Trouvère refers to poet-composers who were roughly contemporary with and influenced by the trobadors, both composing and performing lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages, but while the trobadors composed and performed in Old Occitan, the trouvères used the northern dialects of France. The first known trouvère was Chrétien de Troyes and the trouvères continued to flourish until about 1300. Some 2130 trouvère poems have survived; of these, at least two-thirds have melodies.
French folklore encompasses the fables, folklore, fairy tales and legends of the French people.
Peirol or Peiròl was an Auvergnat troubadour who wrote mostly cansos of courtly love in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Thirty-four surviving poems written in Occitan have been attributed to him; of these, seventeen have surviving melodies. He is sometimes called Peirol d'Auvergne or Peiròl d'Auvèrnha, and erroneously Pierol.
A Crusade song is any vernacular lyric poem about the Crusades. Crusade songs were popular in the High Middle Ages: 106 survive in Occitan, forty in Old French, thirty in Middle High German, two in Italian, and one in Old Castilian. The study of the Crusade song, which may be considered a genre of its own, was pioneered by Kurt Lewent. He provided a classification of Crusade songs and distinguished between songs which merely mentioned, in some form, a Crusade from songs which were "Crusade songs". Since Lewent, scholars have added several classifications and definitions of Crusade songs. Scholars have argued for three different classifications of Crusade songs which include songs of exhortation, love songs, and songs which criticize the Crusading movement.
Gautier de Dargies was a trouvère from Dargies. He was one of the most prolific of the early trouvères; possibly twenty-five of his lyrics survive, twenty-two with accompanying melodies, in sixteen separate chansonniers. He was a major influence on contemporary and later trouvères, and one of the most recorded of medieval vernacular composers. Seventeen chansons courtoises can be assigned indubitably to Gautier, fifteen with music, and three more are probably his, all with music. He imported the Occitan genre of the descort into Old French and left behind three descorts with their melodies. He also participated in two jeux partis, but only one with music. His theme everywhere was courtly love.
Jehan Erart (c.1200/10–1258/9) was a trouvère from Arras, particularly noted for his favouring the pastourelle genre. He has left behind eleven pastourelles, ten grand chants, and one serventois.
Moniot de Paris was a trouvère and probably the same person as the Monniot who wrote the Dit de fortune in 1278. He was once thought to have flourished around 1200, but his dates have been pushed back.
The Chanson de toile was a genre of narrative Old French lyric poetry devised by the trouvères which flourished in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. Some fifteen of them remain; five were written by Audefroi le Bastart, the others are anonymous. Typically, they are set to music and tell the story of a young, often married woman pining for a lover, with a happy ending. The genre's name derives from toile; that is, they are supposed to have been sung by women who were weaving, and the female main characters also sew as they relate their stories.