Song and the soundscape of medieval French romance

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This chapter examines the presence of song and sound in romance, with a particular focus on the traditions of Old French romance from its incarnation in the 1170s, in the works of Chrétien de Troyes, to the earliest examples of romances interpolated with song (romans à chansons) which date from the first decades of the thirteenth century. Romance’s emergence coincided with a period of extraordinary creativity in the realm of vernacular song, most notably with the emergence of a northern lyric tradition of the trouvères, with the continued cultivation of their Occitan inspiration in the lyrics of the troubadours, and with the earliest efforts at codification of both, in songbooks or chansonniers, the earliest examples of which date from the 1230s. Drawing on approaches from musicology, literary studies, and sound studies, my chapter explores how sound manifests in this tradition, and proposes ways to listen to romance. Listening to romance in turn permits new ways to reframe song culture, particularly in the period prior to its notated codification, and the chapter has implications, too, for what musicology may learn from the sonic aspect of romance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThinking Medieval Romance
EditorsKatherine C. Little, Nicola MacDonald
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780198795148
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2018


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