Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Troubadours and Trouveres

Donald Macleod continues the story of early polyphony, as new musical forms emerge in France through combining secular song and sacred polyphony.

The transition from pure monophony to complex polyphony was a gradual one. It is argued that polyphony was never entirely absent from European music-making; nor did monophony suddenly go out of fashion. Nevertheless, a fascinating development can be traced between the 12th and 14th centuries, with the emergence of new musical forms, new rhythmic modes, and new methods of musical notation.

In today's programme, the fascinating results of what happened when secular song met the polyphonic traditions of the church. The troubadour or trouvère poets sang of secular love affairs, while in the cloisters many songs were concerned with saints and feast days. Extraordinarily, these two traditions come together with the birth of the motet, when three different parts may be singing at the same time about three completely different things! Finally, Donald looks at the life and work of Adam de la Halle from Arras.

Anonymous: Fas et nefas ambulant (words by Walter de Châtillon)
John Potter, tenor
Christopher O'Gorman, tenor
Rogers Covey-Crump, tenor

Beatriz de Dia: A Chantar
Sigrid Hausen, soprano

Richard I: Ja nuls homs pris
Blondel de Nesle: A L'entrant d'Este
Graham Derrick, director

Anonymous: motet On parole - A Paris - Frese nouvele!
Instrumental motets
Anonymous: motet De la virge Katerine - Quant froidure - Agmina milicie - Agmina,
Clemencic Consort
Rene Clemencic, director

Adam de la Halle: Le jeu de Robin et Marion
Sofia Laznik-Galves, soprano
Olivier Marcaud, tenor
Ensemble Micrologus

Producer Geoff Ballinger.

Release date:

58 minutes

Last on

Wed 2 Aug 2017 18:00

Composers A to Z


Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Composer Help Page


Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.