Trouvère and poet Adam de la Halle (ca. 1245-1288 or 1306) was born in Paris, and eventually traveled to Italy. Adam first served Robert II, Count of Artois, but eventually left the count in 1283 to work for his uncle, Charles of Anjou. He composed both monophonic and polyphonic works in every genre of his time, including three musical plays. Although the monophonic tradition was fading, his works largely consisted of monophonic chansons and motets.
Robins m’aime (ca. 1284) came from the secular musical play, Jeu de Robin et de Marion. Considered pastoral play music, some sources say that it was a precursor to opéra comique, while others state that this dramatic work is an isolated phenomenon, with the pastourelle narrative as the common denominator. Written while Adam de la Halle worked at the French Court in Naples, this particular piece was a rondeau. The rondeau form of the 13th century lasted into the next century, and became part of the formes fixes. Established in the 13th century, the dance-song held great importance. Also known as a ronde, rondet, rondel, or rondelet, the name signified the circular motion dances for which it was composed. It was often sung by trouvères and troubadours. Although other genre songs varied in structure, the trouvère songs usually included a refrain.
Robins m’aime, sung by Marian at the beginning of the play, is a monophonic rondeau. Because the refrain opens the rondeau, it dates closer to the end of the 13th century. The refrain, though only two lines long, also uses the entire melody. With each musical phrase shown, upper case letters represent the refrain while lower case show the stanzas in the following form: ABaabAB. The triple time notated is typical of the Ars Antiqua and lends itself to a slow, dancelike rhythm. Instrumental accompaniment varies, but a lute begins this version adding chime-like accompaniment in the second verse. This is typical of secular vocal music of the time, as medieval musicians adapted any combination of instruments that may have been available.
NAXOS World of Robin and Marion, track 2
NAXOS ADAM DE LA HALLE: Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Le), track 3Edit
Burkholder, J. Peter and Claude V. Palisca, ed. “Adam de la Halle: Jeu de Robin et de Marion:
Rondeau, Robins m’aime”, Vol. 1 of Norton Anthology of Western Music, 6th edition, 46-47. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.
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