Secular Monophony


Venantius Fortunatus

530 - 609

First western troubadour, a monk in Italy who mostly wrote hymns and poems.


Approx. 800 - Approx. 1199

professional entertainers in France, considered lowest of low, not protected by church law. They took preexisting songs and performed them, probably with some changes made.


Approx. 900 - Approx. 1199

Mostly students from European universities, protested contradictions within the church with satirical, crass poetry.


1100 - 1300

flourished from 1140-1220, S. France (langue d'oc)
Canso was most important song, but had many genres; most famous canso is de Ventadorn's Can vei la lauzeta. Other genres include formal debates (Partimen) and a dawn song for parting lovers (Alba). Songs were heterophonic in performance if accompanied, had occasional melismas.

Spanish troubadours

Approx. 1100 - Approx. 1300

Wrote cantigas, all of which surviving are about the Virgin Mary. They are written in Medieval Gallican language, with 280 different formats.

Beatriz de Dia

1140 - 1212

She was a countess in Southern France and her song A chantar m'er is one of the only surviving trobairitz songs, which is stropic, monophonic, stepwise, with a modal melody and no regular meter.


1145 - 1225

When men went to fight in the crusade women took over, and wrote somewhat more realistic songs than men.

Bernard de Ventadorn

Approx. 1145 - 1200

Widely popular composer of troubadour songs in France, including Can vei la lauzeta. He wrote many songs about love, and his compositions were well received. His work is mostly syllabic with the occasional melisma and short phrases.


1160 - Approx. 1300

German equivalent of a troubadour, much more serious and less obscene than French. Minnelied was the equivalent of the canso, Streitgedicht the equivalent of the tenso, Tagelied the equivalent of the alba, and Frauenstrophe the equivalent of the chanson de toile. They also had guilds formed of multiple Meistersinger. An example of a German Minnesinger is Ulrich von Lichtenstein, known for his Frauendienst (poetry collection of courtly love) and Frauenbuch (a dialogue about the decline of court chivalry).

Albegensian Crusade

1209 - 1229

Started the decline of the troubadours, since many knights went off to fight and not a lot of composing was being done in that time.

Guiraut Riquier

1230 - 1292

One of the last Occitan troubadours (S. France). He took great care in preserving his works.


Approx. 1250 - Approx. 1399

From N. France, langue d'oil, much more aristocratic and bourgeoise than Southern France. Had contests (Puys) in guilds to decide which song was the best. The chanson was the most important genre, including the chanson de toile and the chanson de geste. Adam de la Halle wrote "Jeu de Robin et Marian", which is the oldest extant French drama.


Approx. 1250 - Approx. 1499

English equivalent of troubadour, includes the Scop (professional poet/composer) and Gleeman (nomadic, somewhat like the jongleur, especially in their social status)