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Troubadours and the Art of

Courtly Love
Historical Background of the 12th
• Time of the Crusades (1095-1270)
• Population triples between 1000-1300
• The Feudal System has expanded to include a
middle class
• French, German, English, Italian, and Spanish
replace Latin outside of the church
Sacred vs. Secular
Sacred Music: Music of the church

Secular Music: Music from outside of the church

(of the court and town). Texts are usually in the
• Poet-composers who wrote poetry and music
on secular subject matter in the vernacular
(local languages)
• Employed by aristocracy
Troubadours cont.
• They flourished from the early 12th century
to the late 13th century
• Troubadours sharply declined after with the
Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229)

Where: Occitania - this was a region that would

roughly correspond with southern France today
– it was distinct from northern France culturally,
linguistically, and politically
• Southern France
• People spoke
• Many great patrons
of the arts (Eleanor
of Aquitaine,
Guillaume de
Subject Matter: Courtly Love
• Men yearning for
unobtainable women
• Completely at the
service of the women
they adore
• The love is unrequited
and causes the lover
great agony and
• Female troubadours
• Most famous example: Comtessa de Dia
• Wrote canso: Love songs, but from the
woman’s perspective
Typical Characteristics of
Troubadour/Trobairitz Songs
• Text in Occitan
• Poetry
• Secular subject matter
• Strophic form (same music for each stanza of
Comtessa de Dia A chantar (12th c, 2nd
Overall form: Strophic (with AAB form within
each stanza)
Genre: Canso (love song)
Listening Quiz Study Techniques
• Listen to music actively, sometimes with the
score in front of you
• Make study cards
• Sing along
• Use shuffle functions to test yourself
• Write the English translation in the score
• Compare and contrast similar sounding pieces
What You Should Know About the
Monophonic Pieces for the Medieval Test
*Composer: When known; complete name
*Title: Usually given in italics at the top of the page
(i.e. Puer natus est nobis)
*Date: The century
Genre: Type of piece
Form: If applicable
Language of Text:
Text Setting:
* Only Composer, Title, and Date are needed for
Quiz 1 on Monday
Genre Exercise
What are some terms we use to identify the
type of piece the following compositions are?
Euripides, Orestes, p. 4
Kyrie, p. 11
Viderunt omnes, p. 15