CHAPTER 11MUSIC AT THE COURT OF THE FRENCH KINGS
• If sacred music in medieval Paris was most at home at the cathedral of Notre Dame, secular high art music flourished in and around the court of the French king.• This early map shows Notre Dame at the east end (top) of the Île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine River, and the buildings of the royal palace at the west end (bottom).
THE ROMAN DE FAUVEL• The Grande-Salle of the royal palace was built during the reign of King Philip IV (1285-1314) by his chief financial minister, Engueran de Marigny (c1275-1315).• Marigny was a corrupt official and the widespread graft soon brought complaints. – Among these was a long satirical poem called the Roman de Fauvel (Tale of Fauvel).• In it, Enguerran de Marigny and his corrupt henchmen are collectively portrayed as a witless ass, Fauvel. – The animal’s name is an acronym derived from the first letters of six wordly sins: Flaterie (flattery), Avarice (avarice), Villanie (villainy), Variété (fickleness), Envie (envy), and Lascheté (loose morals).• Written between 1314 and 1317, the Roman de Fauvel survives in several copies – one of which is illustrated and supplied with monophonic and polyphonic music, much of the latter by Philippe de Vitry.
A plate from the Roman de FauvelShowing Fauvel the ass, in the top panel, on his wedding night
PHILIPPE DE VITRY• Philippe de Vitry (1291-1360) was a mathematician, astronomer, politician, soldier, and diplomat, and he ended his career as the bishop of the city of Meaux northeast of Paris – the embodiment of a Renaissance man.• He was also an influential music theorist and composer.• Vitry’s involvement in royal politics can be seen in one of his contributions to the illustrated Roman de Fauvel, his three-voice motet Garrit Gallus/In nova fert/Neuma
ISORHYTHM• Philippe de Vitry’s motets make use of the new technique of isorhythm.• In isorhythm (same rhythm) a rhythmic pattern is repeated again and again in a voice part – usually in the tenor voice.• In an isorhythmic line – the melody is called the color – the rhythmic pattern , or unit, is called the talea (a segment or slice).
In the tenor of Philippe de Vitry’s motet Garrit Gallus/Innova fert/Neuma, there are two statements of the colorand each of these includes three statements of thetalea.
DANCE MUSIC• The two primary genres dance music in medieval France were the carole and the estampie - both were originally sung as well - also played on instruments.• In the carole singers and dancers grouped in a circle - as they danced around, a soloist sang each successive strophe of text, while everyone joined in the refrain.
• The estampie, or “stomp,” was also originally a sung dance – but during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the text was often dropped, leaving a purely instrumental piece, either monophonic or polyphonic.• The estampie is constructed of a succession of pairs of musical phrases, each called a punctum (pl. puncta).• At the end of each unit in the pair comes first an open and then a closed ending.• Thus the form of the estampie can be represented: AxAyBxByCxCyDx Dy etc.• This simple formal structure shows the appearance of first and second endings for the first time in music. The opening punctum of La quinte estampie real (The Fifth Royal Estampie)
In 1378, French KingCharles V gave abanquet in honor ofvisiting Holy RomanEmperor Charles IV inthe Grande-Salle atwhich the king’sminstrels performed.
INSTRUMENTS AT COURT AND IN CHURCH • Among the plucked string instruments at court were the harp, psaltery, lute, gittern (an early cousin of the lute), and vielle. • The vielle was a large five-string fiddle capable of playing the entire Guidonian scale. It had a flat bridge and was often used for playing chords by employing drones and multiple stops.
• Among the wind instruments at court was the shawm (an ancestor of the modern oboe) – a double-reed instrument with a loud penetrating tone.• Also present were bagpipes and trumpets, – although trumpets sounded mostly fanfares and did not play dance music.
• The keyboard instruments of the late Middle Ages consisted of those which produced sound by means of pipes, and those that did so by means of strings.• The portative organ was a small movable instrument that sounded at courtly entertainments or as a solo instrument. A gentleman plays fifteenth-century portative organ while a lady pumps the bellows to send wind pressure to the pipes.
• The positive organ was a large stationary instrument that began to appear in large numbers in churches shortly after 1300.• Because the positive organ was one of the technological wonders of the day – it was usually attached high on a wall in the nave of the church for all the populace to see and hear.
• The fourteenth century witnessed the development of the clavichord (literally “key-string”) – a keyboard instrument that makes sound when a player depresses a key and thereby pushes a small metal tangent up against a string. • Initially the clavichord was called the chekker.• The earliest surviving collection of keyboard music, called the Robertsbridge Codex – dates from about 1360 and is associated with the musical repertoire of the kings of France. • It includes arrangements of three motets from the Roman de Fauvel as well as three estampies.The beginning of an estampie preserved in the Robertsbridge Codex.