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WOMEN

&

MUSIC

The Comtessa de Dia, “A chantar m’er de so qu’ieu non

volria”

Azalais

We cannot securely identify the Comtessa de Dia. She was probably a contemporary of de Porcairagues and may have frequented the court of Ermengard of Narbonne. Both trobairitz likely belonged to a poetic circle that included the trou-

dOrange, +*

m’er”

badour Raimbaut

the lords of Montpellier.

himself a cousin of

“A chantar

(fig. I)

is constructed around the linked notions of sin, fault, and betrayal. To elaborate these notions, the comtessa adopts the vocabulary of disputes over lands and rights and of oaths of fidelity. Consid- ering the language used by the comtessa as merely an uneasy transfer from male discourse leads to in- terpretation of the song in a romanticized “mournful lady on a pedestal” mode. But in the light of evidence presented above, we may argue

“b”

D

3

feminine “a” rhyme sounds changing for each stanza and the masculine rhyme sounds re- maining the same. The ample melodic phrases are paired two by two in the beginning portion of the song, with more spacious contrasting develop- ment in the middle, and a return of the second and fourth phrases to close (thus ABACDB). A tonality of is clear from the outset. The initial logical unfolding of phrases that stand in an- tecedent/consequent relationship, determined by the alternation of melodic cadences (“open” ca- dences in lines I and followed by “closed” ca- dences in lines 2 and helps establish the legalistic character of the complaint. The con- trasting development of lines and 6, with the ini- tial triad of line 6 rising to the melodic peak, convey emotional tension. The end of line 6,

4),

5

identical to lines I and

3,

prepares the repeat of the

that women like the comtessa regularly used such language in their society. Their ability to manipu- late this language came not only from familiarity with a masculine poetic code but also from their own experiences as rulers and This al- lows us to interpret the song as a forthright dis- cussion of amorous discord and of expectations deceived, couched in the usual terms of a legal

castellans.29

complaint. The

versification

and melodic structure of this

song at first appear deceptively simple. The rhymes follow the scheme a’a’a’a’ba’b, with the

second and fourth phrases that rounds out the ar- gument in a decisive manner.30 But at the same time, comparing melodic movement and rhyme

scheme also reveals

asuggestion

of frustrated ex-

pectations in this conclusion. One might imagine that the “a” rhyme would return in line 7 with the

“B”

musical cadence to conclude the song. The as-

“b”

sociation had been firm until that point. But the rhyme pattern associates the new masculine sound with the cadence. The melody has set up expectations that are “deceived” by the final rhyme sound-which, indeed, because of the shift

“B”

about power,” or their “anxiety about the right to speak” (Gender and

168-69). If women were users of “feudal languagein

count and the countess). Raimon

and Prose, II: “Abril issia,” ed. and trans. W. H. Field (Chapel Hill: University of

course. Gaunt writes also, in referring to “feudal metaphors,” about the trobairia’ “anxiety about language..

to anxiety

Rieger, Trobuiritz 608-14.

ofAuvergne

Le /

w.

Vi&: Poehy

vine

Proensa

Provence

rrobairitz’

28. See Bruckner, herself have held and White, and It is tempting to think that the comtessa might Comtessa de as a patron in his descrip- but we have no evidence that she did. Another comtessa, de de f r o m w h o m w e h a v e o n e s h o r t p o e m , i s m e n t i o n e d b y t h e C a t a l a Raimon n et per lo Puey tion of his travels: “Per comtessa” (By way m’en de sai, on atrobey mant gai bon la en in this direction where I found many gay barons and the good and Puy I came to

allegedly “problematic” relationship to masculine dis-

Shepard, coutt,

Songs, 143,

.linked

jongleur

Germ

for a discussion of the

/

North Carolina Press, 1971) 29. See Kay,

623-66. and

Ganenda Vidal I

/

Forcalquier, Be& bare

Provence,

Alvernhe

Subjectivi~ 102-4

127-28,

comte e

/ e.1

/

criricize

“reality,” there seems to be no reason for them suddenly to develop anxiety in the poetry. This does not mean that women do not male language; they criticize deceit and betrayal using the same terms that men used because these were the terms with which both were familiar. Although we cannot agree with Gaunt’s notion that women felt trapped and constrained by the rhetoric

of the

canso,

we can certainly join in the view that “the surviving

cantos

of the

trobairitz

are testimony to the

facr

that if more

women’s voices from the Middle Ages have not survived, this does not mean that women did not articulate their ideas” (Gender

studi

di

the Comressa de Dia,”

Pollina, connaissance dhour desfemmes-troubadours Gasca-Quieraua (Alessandria: crobairitz’ lyrisme fiminin Bet, “‘Trobaititz’et moyen ige,” cahiers de civihation mkdihak 22 (1979): 199~). m&of Orso, 1988), 2:887-96. Miscelkznea

See Vincent

“Melodic Continuity and Discontinuity in A chantar

a Giuliano

Edizioni dell’

30. romanzi ofitia

chansons de femme: 235-62, and taken

and

179). a

Genre,

Masculine discourse in

contribution la up again in his Chants

du

songs was first fully discussed by

Pierre

au

(Paris: Stock,

32

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