Final Project: A Chantar M'er | Performing Trobar

Final Project: A Chantar M'er

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Anne Levitsky
Anne Levitsky

For my final project, I was inspired by the qualities of the extant troubadour and trobairitz melodies and was interested to see how well they would transfer to a tonal, modern idea of music. I took a pre-existing trobairitz melody and fitted it with a more modern idea of tonality, present in the addition of a bass line and duet line. The melody is modal, but the cadences and melodic changes lend themselves well to traditional harmonic structure. The harmonic structure is based on a minor scale, which uses Roman numerals to signify each scale tone. Each musical line finishes with one of three types of musical cadence. The first is an authentic cadence, which means the musical line moves through the dominant chord of the scale (V) to the tonic tone (i). The second is a half cadence, which means the line does not fully resolve to the tonic, but ends on the dominant tone. The third is a deceptive cadence, where instead of moving to the tonic at the end of the line, the music moves through the dominant chord to the sixth tone of the scale (VI). Both half and deceptive cadences create more motion in the line, pushing it forward towards the resolution of the cadence and arrival on the tonic. Half cadences occur at the end of lines 1, 3 and 6; authentic cadences occur at the end of lines 2, 4 and 7; and the melody’s one deceptive cadence occurs at the end of line 5. The melodic material parallels the cadential structure. Lines 1, 3 and the end of 6 are the same, lines 2, 4 and 7 are the same and lines 5 and the beginning of 6 present new melodic material in accordance with the new harmonic structure (deceptive cadence).

On this recording, I first sang the existing line and used it as the melody on which I based my harmonic analysis and contrapuntal line. Then, I recorded a bass line that lined up with my harmonic analysis. All chords are in the root position so they can be heard more clearly. Finally, I wrote a duet line under the melody that falls into the harmonic structure I set up but creates contrapuntal movement with the melodic line. Originally, I planned to sing four verses and add parts over each verse, but time constraints in the recording studio limited this idea. Instead, I put all the parts together in one verse, presenting the combination of old and new musical ideas all together through the entirety of the recording.

The lyrics of the song are presented and translated below. Underneath each line of Old Occitan, I have included a harmonic analysis using the Roman numeral system. So, i=tonic, V=dominant, iv=subdominant and VI=sixth scale degree. A half cadence looks like this: i-iv-V, an authentic cadence looks like this: i-iv-V-i, and a deceptive cadence looks like this: i-iv-VI. It is easier to see which lines are the same in the diagram. Also attached is a PDF of the music so each line is easier to see and differentiate.

**This track sounds best with headphones!!

musical notation for A Chantar M'er


A chantar m’er de so qu’ien no volria, Of things I’d rather keep in silence I must sing
i                         iv                            V  
Tant me rancur de lui cui sui amia, So bitter do I feel toward him
V                       i        iv         V  i  
Car l’ieu am mais que nuilla ren que sia, Whom I love more than anything,
i                                   iv                    V  
Vas lui no*m val merces ni cortesia With him my mercy and courtesy are in vain,
V                         i           iv      V   i  
Ni ma beltatz, ni mos pretz ni mos sens, My beauty, virtue and intelligence.
i                      iv                               VI  
C’atressi*m sui enganad’e trahia For I am deceived and betrayed
i            III             iv                V  
Com degr’esser s’ieu fos desavinens. As much as I should be, if I were ugly.
V                       i             iv    V      i  
A Chantar M'er (256Kbps)2.98 MB