Secular Song/Sacred Chant
– Words and music not separate: song is the whole. Poetry often said to be
– Mostly monophonic
– Not usually written down
– Tradition of performance more important than a single authority
– Songs may have also have been accompanied. Not a lot of evidence – we
never see accompaniment – just the melody line, but there could have been
Kinds of Secular Song
1. Latin Song – (not religious)
– Written by educated men
– Usually from monasteries
– Sources are often associated with universities or abbeys
– Topics: love (erotic and sacred), gambling, drinking.
Carmina Burana (Songs of Benediktbeurern)
– 13 century manuscript from a Benedictine abbey in Bavaria
– Contains 200 poems/songs about love, drinking, gambling
– Written by monks/educated layment fluent on Latin
– Carl Orff's 1937 setting by the same name sets 25 of these poems.
Singers of Latin Song
– The Order of the Goliards
– Named after Goliath (Bible), known for excessive drinking and carelessness
– Made up of wandering minstrels, partially educated in monasteries (eg.
– Jongleurs - less educated than the Goliards. Known for entertainment
(singing, acrobatics, and juggling – for which they are named).
2. Vernacular Song: the language spoken in the court that is not Latin
- France, Iberian Peninsula, and Germany
- Court entertainment. Topics: courtly love, adventure, drinking etc.
– Trouvères: 'singer-songwriters' in N France in 12 and 13 centuries
- Medieval French
- Approx. 2100 songs are preserved (music and text)
– Troubadours: 'singer-songwriters' in S France in the 12 and 13 centuries
- Occitan language (or Provençal)
- Approx 200 songs are preserved (music and text)
- Many more poems are preserved (2500)
– Both these words come from the word “trouver” - to find, to invent – Songs were probably accompanied by instrument
– Topics covered: love, laments, pastoral descriptions (knight, sheph