Music in the French Secular Theater, 1400-1550

Music in the French Secular Theater, 1400-1550

Music in the French Secular Theater, 1400-1550

Music in the French Secular Theater, 1400-1550

Excerpt

Very little has been written about the early history of the French secular theater since the monumental studies by Louis Petit de Julleville and Émile Picot appeared toward the end of the last century. The works of these two men have retained their position of authority even though new discoveries have been made and in spite of the publication of two important and heretofore little-known collections of play texts, the Recueil Trepperel still in the process of being edited by Eugénie Droz , and the farces and sotties published ten years ago by the late Gustave Cohen. Few studies in English of this dramatic tradition have ever been written. Howard Harvey The Theatre of the Basoche and the relevant parts of Grace Frank The Medieval French Drama almost exhaust the list of extended treatments in English of any aspect of secular French drama before 1550. The music in these plays has never been written about in any language; passing remarks by theatrical historians have been the main sources of information until now on the place of music in the theater.

The fact that the standard works are now out of date, quite aside from the scarcity of writings in English, is enough to justify the rather lengthy report on the plays and the players which constitutes the first chapter of this work. As a survey of the present state of knowledge about comic plays in France before 1550 it will be of interest to the literary as well as to the musical historian.

But I have devoted so much space to the literary background of a specific musical repertoire for still another reason--the desire to investigate the social milieu of "popular music" during this period. Too often it has been called "folk music" by music historians, when it has been . . .

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