Author Topic: The Troubadour Thread.  (Read 18436 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
The Troubadour Thread.
« on: May 23, 2019, 05:15:37 AM »


A place to record any thoughts and feelings about troubadours, trouvères and other people of that ilk.

I'll start this exciting journey off by noting one of the things which makes it most exciting. As far as I know, we know very little, if anything, about rhythm, tempo, pitch, dynamic contrasts, embellishment expressive or otherwise, accompaniment, instruments, vocalisation, the number of singers who sang at the same time, or the vowel sounds they made, or their voices, whether it was sung inside, outside, in courts, in taverns, in brothels, in homes, in market places, in churches, at state occasions, at public executions,  whether it was sung loudly or quietly, whether it was danced, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

As you can see there is a tremendous opportunity here for musicians to use their imaginations and make something new out of something very old.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 06:46:08 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2019, 05:25:49 AM »
And maybe to give us something to focus on, I'll kick it off my mentioning that I've been listening to this CD from Ensemble Celadon



whether you'll like it or not depends partly on how you will react to Paulin Bündgen's voice, he has a rather distinctive countertenor which I find fascinating at best. It also depends on whether you're predisposed to see this music as gaudy, loud and jaunty -- i.e. your preconceptions about rhythm and about accompaniment and about voice. Put it like this: Ensemble Celadon is the extreme polar opposite of gaudy, loud and jaunty, almost to a fault. But for my part I prefer it to err in that direction that the other.

Above all they are words first people, which I think is not a bad way to be at all:

Quote
As musicians, our greatest concern was to reflect the emotions that we had experienced
when we fi rst read these songs and poems. Real men and women of fl esh and blood are
described in these songs
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 05:29:21 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 20035
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2019, 05:52:59 AM »
A place to record any thoughts and feelings about troubadours, trouvères and other people of that ilk.

I'll start this exciting journey off by noting one of the things which makes it most exciting. As far as I know, we know very little, if anything, about rhythm, tempo, pitch, dynamic contrasts, embellishment expressive or otherwise, accompaniment, instruments, vocalisation, the number of singers who sang at the same time, or the vowel sounds they made, or their voices, whether it was sung inside, outside, in courts, in taverns, in brothels, in homes, in market places, in churches, at state occasions, at public executions,  whether it was sung loudly or quietly, whether it was danced, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

As you can see there is a tremendous opportunity here for musicians to use their imaginations and make something new out of something very old.

The corresponding Wikipedia article seems to be rather well-researched.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubadour

This is certainly outside my comfort zone, but a few years ago I listened to this:



and I remember liking it quite a lot. You made me want to revisit it.

EDIT: I have a few other Alla Francesca recordings which I also like.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 06:16:56 AM by Florestan »
“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.” — Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2019, 06:33:29 AM »
The corresponding Wikipedia article seems to be rather well-researched.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubadour

This is certainly outside my comfort zone, but a few years ago I listened to this:



and I remember liking it quite a lot. You made me want to revisit it.

EDIT: I have a few other Alla Francesca recordings which I also like.

It's outside my comfort zone too, despite having made a few forays into the world of troubadours before. Unlike  Minnesang which I feel very connected to emotionally, most of what I've heard of troubadour music really turns me off. I'm not sure why this should be, and I suspect that it's just a matter of finding singers who excite my imagination and CDs with a selection which appeals. Hence this little project to explore what's on record.

There are about 350 troubadour poems which have music associated with them, and for the couple of thousand poems without music, I know performers like to be creative about fining a suitable tune.  So there's a lot to chose from when you make a CD I guess.

Re Alla Francesca, I know I like much of what I've heard from Emmanuel Bonnardot. In fact, by coincidence, today I ordered this CD

« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 06:40:52 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 20035
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2019, 06:51:22 AM »
It's outside my comfort zone too, despite having made a few forays into the world of troubadours before. Unlike  Minnesang which I feel very connected to emotionally, most of what I've heard of troubadour music really turns me off. I'm not sure why this should be

Isn't Minnesaenger just the German equivalent of the Occitan trobador? Apart form that, what is the difference between them? Are there two different styles? Please, don't tell me that the dichotomy "German - serious & profound" / "Italian - entertaining and pleasing"  manifested itself that early.  :D
“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.” — Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2019, 06:59:37 AM »
Isn't Minnesaenger just the German equivalent of the Occitan trobador? Apart form that, what is the difference between them? Are there two different styles? Please, don't tell me that the dichotomy "German - serious & profound" / "Italian - entertaining and pleasing"  manifested itself that early.  :D

I don't know, I don't have any sort of grip on the answers to those questions, or indeed on the style differences among the troubadours and troveres.

Given that so little is understood about the meaning of the music, maybe part of the problem is to do with stereotyping, we imagine the southern troubadour as being loud, passionate, even driven by sexual passion, the northern to be cooler, dispassionate and driven by divine passion. And this reflects itself in the sort of performances you get. North and South again.

Put it like this, no one would dream of singing the Minnesaenger like, for example Gérard Zuchetto and his band La Tròba present the troubadours (which to me sounds like music you might hear in a brothel in Istanbul), though I don't know if Zuchetto has any reason do do it like he does other than that's his whim.

In the same way, no-one would think of presenting Guiraut Riquier, for example, like Eberhard Kummer presents Wolkenstein.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 07:08:03 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 20035
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2019, 07:12:37 AM »
we imagine the southern troubadour as being loud, passionate, even driven by sexual passion, the northern to be cooler, dispassionate and driven by divine passion. And this reflects itself in the sort of performances you get. North and South again.

Who is this "we"? And why should "we" assume that?

Quote
Put it like this, no one would dream of singing the Minnesaenger like, for example Gérard Zuchetto and his band La Tròba present the troubadours (which to me sounds like music you might hear in a brothel in Istanbul), though I don't know if Zuchetto has any reason do do it like he does other than that's his whim.

Funny, nay extremely funny, you should say this --- I have just got this (well, not exactly this, I meant volume 2, the image has volume 4):



 :D :D :D

Now, I've never visited any Istanbul brothel yet so I'll take your word on it. But then again, you wrote:

Quote
As far as I know, we know very little, if anything, about rhythm, tempo, pitch, dynamic contrasts, embellishment expressive or otherwise, accompaniment, instruments, vocalisation, the number of singers who sang at the same time, or the vowel sounds they made, or their voices, whether it was sung inside, outside, in courts, in taverns, in brothels, in homes, in market places, in churches, at state occasions, at public executions,  whether it was sung loudly or quietly, whether it was danced, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

As you can see there is a tremendous opportunity here for musicians to use their imaginations and make something new out of something very old.

In light of all of the above, I ask you: what's wrong with Zuccheto?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 07:18:06 AM by Florestan »
“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.” — Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2019, 08:00:14 AM »
Who is this "we"? And why should "we" assume that?

Funny, nay extremely funny, you should say this --- I have just got this (well, not exactly this, I meant volume 2, the image has volume 4):



 :D :D :D

Now, I've never visited any Istanbul brothel yet so I'll take your word on it. But then again, you wrote:

In light of all of the above, I ask you: what's wrong with Zuccheto?

I know Zuchheto slightly, or rather, we’ve corresponded,  he’s been in the Troubadour business for years and he’s very serious about making meaningful music out of it. It’s just that it’s not my cup of tea.

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 20035
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2019, 08:09:13 AM »
I know Zuchheto slightly, or rather, we’ve corresponded,  he’s been in the Troubadour business for years and he’s very serious about making meaningful music out of it. It’s just that it’s not my cup of tea.

Very interesting. Well, I'll listen to his second volume, and report here, asap.



“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.” — Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2019, 08:33:56 AM »
Very interesting. Well, I'll listen to his second volume, and report here, asap.

There’s an earlier thing he did which I like more in fact

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 20035
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2019, 08:52:01 AM »
Well, I listened to a random track of Zuccheto's 2nd volume and I can see where you're coming from --- the lady has a luscious, whore-ish tone for certainly. I liked it (honni soit qui mal y pense). And now that I think of it, is it not possible that those ladies were actually not your ordinary Istanbul brothel whores but courtesans well versed in the arts (such as the Venetians ones were centuries later)? Just asking.

And don't you dare tell me that it was a uniquely Southern phenomenon ---  remember Venusberg in Tannhaeuser? Germans were just as much prone to wenching as the Southerners, if not more --- it's only that they were much more hypocritical about it and much more adept at disguising it as "serious, profound & metaphysical" love.  ;D

“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.” — Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2019, 12:41:02 PM »
Why has your avatar suddenly got those bedroom eyes?

Re La Trobà, from memory the singers aren’t bad, quite characterful in fact, but they tend to sing all the strophes and it’s repetitive, I think it takes better singers to pull that off, especially because the words in an understandable form, indeed in any form, are inaccessible. I think it was a serious mistake that they didn’t publish the words, he did publish a book to go with the set, which I have, but it only contains a fraction of the texts they sing.

The instrumental part (and that’s all speculative I think) is too colourful for me, I get very bored with it very quickly. It may be all suffers from that routine feeling that you often get in complete surveys, but I bet there’s some good things in there. If anyone finds anything they think is special, please say.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 01:00:00 PM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2019, 01:03:05 PM »
Who is this "we"?

Giuseppe Verdi. And whoever made that print I put in the opening post.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 01:18:05 PM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline schnittkease

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 337
  • Location: Portland, OR
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2019, 03:59:50 PM »


What a coincidence - I was just hearing this disc earlier today (as part of my rare forays into medieval music) and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Offline Zeus

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 869
  • That Was Fun
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2019, 06:47:46 PM »
I have that Nuits Occitaine disc in my collection, and I like it.

Inspired by this thread, I'm giving this disc a spin:

Thibaut de Champagne - Le Chansonnier du Roi
Alla Francesca, Brigitte Lesne
Aeon



In general I like Troubadour / Trouvere music in part because it supports a pet theory that I have – that playing an instrument and singing along to it is a very ancient and natural form of music-making that probably hasn't changed much over the centuries.  For the simple reason that people haven't changed much over the centuries.  Although this simple style of music is not well represented in the written record, I would bet it was as popular back then and for the same reasons as a guy with a guitar singing in a bar or on the streets is popular in our times.  JMHO FWIW.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 06:57:57 PM by Zeus »
"There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it." – Emmanuel Radnitzky (Man Ray)

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2019, 08:20:31 PM »
I have that Nuits Occitaine disc in my collection, and I like it.

Inspired by this thread, I'm giving this disc a spin:

Thibaut de Champagne - Le Chansonnier du Roi
Alla Francesca, Brigitte Lesne
Aeon



In general I like Troubadour / Trouvere music in part because it supports a pet theory that I have – that playing an instrument and singing along to it is a very ancient and natural form of music-making that probably hasn't changed much over the centuries.  For the simple reason that people haven't changed much over the centuries.  Although this simple style of music is not well represented in the written record, I would bet it was as popular back then and for the same reasons as a guy with a guitar singing in a bar or on the streets is popular in our times.  JMHO FWIW.

As far as I understand it, the scores are silent about instruments, and the iconographic evidence is difficult to interpret because the instruments shown may have been meant symbolically and not literally. The medieval literature always represents troubadours singing a cappella or accompanying themselves with just one instrument - viel, lute or harp.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 12:18:49 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2019, 01:55:29 AM »


Barbara Thornton can sing, and indeed Benjamin Bagby is not bad, but Thornton's the star for me. Many of the tracks are strophic songs, some of the music is sung a cappella,, some of tracks have fiddle music  sometimes jaunty and sometimes moody.  These artists pull it off despite the odds being so heavily against this sort of repetitive music in an incomprehensible language working.

They use instruments in three ways. One is just to provide pre/post/inter -ludes, one is just to provide a bit of colourful accompaniment for the voice. However sometimes it goes further than this and the fiddle and harp become almost the equal partners of the singers. I don't believe there is any good reason to think this is how the music was played back in the day, but it's very interesting in Arnault Daniel's Chanson do’ill mot son plan e prim nevertheless.

As with all Sequentia recordings of this period, you need a Krell amp and BBC studio monitors to capture the mystery of the sound. Not worth bothering if you don't have something in that league.

I don't have the booklet but I bet it's good, the Dante-Troubadour relationship is something I'd like to understand better, if anyone can let me have it as an upload I'd be thrilled.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2019, 02:05:17 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2019, 04:32:01 AM »
Trouvères are musicians who wrote in Occitan, or at least their dialect of it, but unlike Troubadours, they are from Northern France.  They were contemporary with Troubadours. Let's include them in this thread.



This recording from Sequentia is in three parts: the excellent, the satisfactory and the not my cup of tea.

Actually, straight away, I'm going to make a correction. It's misleading to say it's by Sequentia. It's by a supplemented Sequentia, and supplemented by some amazing artists -- the instrumentalist Wendie Gillespie and the singer Jill Feldman. These people really make the best of the recording into something very special for me.

The excellent is the first part is music mostly by anonymous composers. The artists have decided to do two things which are astonishing. The first, is to create heterophonic interpretations with Feldman and Barbara Thornton. Their voices create the most wonderfully scrunchy harmonies. That's the way to sing monophony in C21, for an audience that doesn't understand the words and with singer who aren't as good at diction as Bob Dylan. Orlando Consort should follow suit!

And second they make little sets of music made up of sung  motets with intervals interpreted on fiddle, clausulae they call them, as they must be elaborations of some plain chant. This makes for real ear candy, very rich and interesting and substantial pieces of music.

Oh and there's a third thing Wendie Gillespie plays her fiddle in a way which is totally inspired, John Cage-esque sometimes (The Apartment House as interpreted by Irvine Arditti)

The middle part is music by Adam de la Hale, so far this music hasn't captured my imagination I'm afraid.

The third part is mostly pieces by a rather well recorded composer, Jehan de Lescurel. What they do is vigorous and a bit meat and potatoes in the sense that there's not much irony or mystery, but it's nonetheless not unpleasant  even if it doesn't efface the memory of Dominque Veillard or Paulin Bungden.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 04:48:34 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2019, 04:34:15 AM »


Just a quick rave, this is just amazing. Martin Best is one of those singers with a great sense of diction, the instrumental music is expressive and reticent, the whole CD is one of the best of its kind I know, a wonderful inward looking exercise in music making. 

In the past whenever I'd dipped into Martin Best recordings I was impressed. This is the first time I've explored a whole CD and I'm basically knocked out -- he is, to use the term of art, a top tier troubadour. TTT.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 04:37:12 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 14710
Re: The Troubadour Thread.
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2019, 06:59:52 AM »



Here we have a recording by Paul Hillier and friends, mostly songs by Bernard de Ventadorm. Hillier’s in better voice here than his ECM Troubadour recording, but IMO he’s still not good enough to really make the music come off the page, it’s a question of diction. My own preference for higher voices may have a lot to do with my response.

Maybe the most valuable thing here for me is a rather nice rendition of Abelard’s Planctus David.

Instrumental accompaniment is very much at the level of accompaniment, and preludes or interludes, there’s rarely any sense of the instruments making anything interesting from the point of view of polyphony.

So not a bad recording, but not a magical recording for me.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen