Monday, October 27, 2008

Gilles Binchois, Mon Souverain Desir response

Get your floppy, pointy, bulky Renaissance hats on; it is time for lovin’ like it is 1420! And what sets the mood better than one of Binchois's chanson? Works by Gilles Binchois, a central figure in the development of the Burgundian chanson, can be found on the album Mon Souverain Desir, which has a very distinct, universal theme: romantic love.

Jaime’s description of the music itself is accurate and detailed, enhancing my listening experience. After reading her article, I put her suggestion to practice to read the text while listening to the music. To quote Jaime, “Reading the translations while listening at the same time gave a much better representation of what was being sung about and why the music sounded as it did.” The sound-image is clear when coupling the music with the words. More than anything, Binchois expressed emotion through both the lyrics and the music. For example, in Amours mercy, he cries out, “I cannot suffer forlorn hope/so richly have I chosen as I wished/and for Love, who commanded me to do so.” The music is steady-paced, with simple intervals and imitation, as if the unaccompanied singers were carrying a heavy burden. But the lyrics express this burden of hope and love being one that has been chosen, so the music has an element of tranquility. Binchois, however, does not need to rely on text to convey the music's emotion, as displayed in Je me recommande humblement, which is an upbeat piece, entirely instrumental, making it perfect for a couples dance in the Renaissance.

The music as a whole is brimming with musical description of human emotion, from the burden of love to the celebration of it. The text, polyphony, and oftentimes usage of the hemiola rhythmic effect keeps the music fresh and intriguing. Even so, Binchois has an underlying element that makes him different from his predecessor, Guillaume Du Fay, in that Binchois has pieces both emotionally charged, but notably debonair and controlled.

Had I been living in a Burgundian land during the peak of Binchois's popularity, this would be my kind of scene. His instrumental music makes for marvelous couple dancing, in being both fun and refined. I wonder if these dance halls had the same issues that our found in today's society. Was there scandalous hand-holding? Women flashing their ankles? Did the poor earl of Suffolk spend the dance crying over his lady leaving him for the visiting duke of Dijon? Perhaps in other dance halls would such barbaric events take place, but not in the courts who are fortunate enough to have Binchois perform. Wistfully I wish such dance halls with music playing from Binchois still existed, but for now, I can sit and listen to the recordings of his romantic music being played.


At October 27, 2008 at 7:15 PM , Blogger Chrstopher McKiggan said...

I did a response on yours, great job!


At October 27, 2008 at 10:18 PM , Blogger Shardy928 said...

HAHA! I'm responding to yours, Jaime did and so did Chris. I wonder if Julie will...


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