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Women in Troubadour Song: Of the Comtessa and the Vilana

FREDRIC

L. CHEYETTE

& MARGARET

SWITTEN

T w o f r o m t h e O c c i t a n ( O l d P r o v e n c a l ) r e p e r t o r y , " A c h a n t a r m e r d e s o q u i e u n o n v o l r i a , a by

wrx-mow

sorm

canso

partorela

by Marcabru is a dialogue whose inter-

locutors are a

(thus presumably a knight)

and a

(that is, a shepherdess). In both

vilana

seigner

the Comtessa de Dia (fl late twelfth century), and

(fl

jost’una sebissa,” a

by Marcabru

lead us to confront the question:

“L’autrier 1127~so),

pmtorekz

songs, there is an encounter, an engagement, di- rect or indirect, of a woman with a knight. In both songs, the female voice is presented as strong

when we listen to a trobairitz song, or to a song by a male troubadour with a prominent female speaker, what “feminine” voices do we hear?

and persuasive. But in the

pastorekz,

the narrator

is male and the woman a character he invents,

while the

came

is presumably composed by a

These two songs present both similarities and

woman. And further: in the

partorekz,

the female

oppositions. The

camo

by the Comtessa de Dia

has a single poetic voice, textually defined as “fe- male” by theme and grammar. It is particularly precious because it is the only trobairitz song for which music has been preserved. In contrast, the

character is a

of peasant stock, while rhe fe-

male author of the

is a countess, a member

viluna,

canso

of the nobility (although this "difference” is more complex than it at first appears to be.) Since we have melodies for both songs, the question of

An earlier version of this essay was presented by Margaret

kitten

for the fall

1996

Lectures in Musicology series at Ohio State

University. She is grateful to Professor Charles M. Atkinson for inviting her to give the lecture.

26

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