by David on February 12, 2012
Guillaume de Machaut, it's said, was the last great poet who was also a great composer. I think you can hear the Arabic influence in much of his music; not this one so much – Douce dame jolie – but I like the tune…
The Reconquista had finished and the Moors expelled from Al-Andalus, but they'd been there for centuries almost up to de Machaut's time. The crusades had been going on for the previous few centuries, with consequent traffic between the Holy Land and the West. And of course Arab seafarers, merchants and pirates were always sailing around the Mediterranean (Lepanto was another couple of hundred years in the future). Byzantium had another century left before it fell to the Ottomans and it too must have been a fruitful source of Arabic musical influences.
Many of the old troubadour songs have a distinct feel of the Muezzin's call to prayer. I don't know enough about music to pinpoint exactly what it is that's been borrowed, but there's very definitely a connection.
This is rather good, isn't it.
Guillaume de Machaut : Douce Dame Jolie, virelai