Gautier de Coincy (1177–1236)

From this time comes the raucous and seductive text, Carmina Burana.  Interestingly, it was preserved by Benedictine monks until they were printed in 1847. During that time, galliard poets and singers roamed France and Western Germany as “wandering scholars.” The time saw the rebirth of drama in the form of mystery plays or miracle plays which were first performed within the churches, and when the form outgrew the confines of the cathedral, it was staged on a platform outside the church. As the subjects became more secularized, performances were moved from the church grounds altogether to the marketplace.

Beowulf and other epic poetry were produced during this time.  Troubadours wandered southern France singing their lyric poetry of love and sensuality. In time, the they would sing the virtues of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Their influence spread into southern Germany, giving rise to German poets and singers, known as minnesingers, who spread through that region with their own songs of love and chivalry.

See for a modern rendition of a variety of troubadour song, including a lively call and response between troubadour and audience, lavishly accompanied by drums and tambourine; unison ballad style accompanied by drum; an extensive French narration interspersed with fife or other instruments; and a wide variety of other troubadour music.

If religion is to be relevant, it must somehow connect with the lives of its adherents. And so, secular music of the late Middle Ages left its mark on religious music, not so unlike how love songs of the early Twentieth Century affected hymnology of that time in its personalization and adoration of Jesus, such as “Oh, How I Love Jesus.”

Gautier de Coincy (1177–1236) was a troubadour who was known for his poetry in veneration of the Mother Mary about whom developed the Cult of the Virgin Mary.  He set his poetry to popular troubadour melodies and song of the time.  Those he compiled into a work, Miracles of Notre Dame.  While reverent, his songs are full of secular humor. At this time, we see an increasing impact of secularity on the Church and on religious life among the populace.  Mary was a figure that the populace could relate to.  Perhaps like a doting mother smiles upon her child’s mischievous nature and deeds, Mary was perceived as smiling upon their own celebrated frailty and wantonness. For the populace, she was a great antidote to Pauline holy rigidity.

See for Gautier’s Roÿne celeste, for solo voice and bowed string instrument. Note its similarity in musical texture to vocal organum which preceded.

See for his Alla Francesca,  Les Miracles de Nostre-Dame for voice, percussion and flute.

See  for and album  of his Miracles of Notre Dame available for purchase at Classical Archive.

See  for other resources regarding  Coincy.

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