Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Trouvere Song

The earliest secular songs we have that were written down are those by the troubadours of southern France between about 1100 AD and 1300 AD when the Provencal culture was finally wiped out by the Albigensian Crusade. The tradition was taken up by the trouveres of northern France. One famous poet and composer was Richard I, Richard Lion-Heart, later king of England. Oddly enough, even though he was born in Oxford, he grew up in France and never learned to speak English! Only one song by Richard survives with a melody. The song is Ja nun hons pris, a lament on his captivity when he was held by Leopold V of Austria. Here it is:

I chose this version because it is the least 'orchestrated'. All that we have in the sources is the unadorned melody without accompaniment and written in ambiguous rhythmic values.


Anonymous said...

So beautiful. I heard a short version of this on Bryan Ferry's Frantic, searched it and found this wonderful blog.

Bryan Townsend said...

Can't take credit for the song, but thanks for the compliment on the blog!