This is not another post about Le Devin du village. However, for students who use my posts in their research, I should point out that the 5 December post includes a Frenchoverture. Italian-born Lully(28 November 1632 – 22 March 1687)created the French overture. It also has a link to the complete lyrics.
Christmas is coming
It’s a cold day in Quebec and people are buying gifts and special food. Christmas is still a major event in this province, but it has changed. A long time ago, it consisted of reunions and meals. People celebrated from the 25th (Midnight Mass) until Epiphany, January 6th. They went from house to house, visiting.
In the very old days, transportation was easy. People had horses and sleighs with bells. Moreover, there were no telephones. Guests arrived uninvited, except that one could hear the grelots, the snow bells.
A very long time ago, there was a piano in every house. Singing was extremely important. People sang Christmas carols and other favourites. There were many good singers and Church organists were easy to find.
The four weeks of Advent were spent dreaming. Usually, snow had started to fall in late November or early December, sometimes earlier. I can hear the sound of boots on the hard snow.
When I was a child, gifts were not very important, but my mother and her Belgian friend, Mariette, made gifts for us. They used whatever as at hand. I so loved green that every Christmas, I got a new green dress. Sometimes it was an original design. Mariette had been wardrobe mistress for the Brussels Opera. It took her less than a day to make the dress.
We always attended the Christmas parade bundled up in warm clothes. My mother did not want us to miss out on anything. I was not interested in the Christmas parade. In fact, I had a doll and never played with it. I simply sat her on my bed and I looked at her admiringly. I didn’t want to touch her for fear I would break it.
However, I played my piano for hours on end and read. We had books.
Going to Midnight Mass was a magical event. When we returned home for the réveillon, we put little Jesus in his crib.
So Christmas is coming. There will probably be a family Christmas dinner, but I do not know whether or not I will be invited.
I have written a post where Bluebeard is compared to an “animal.” So I feel compelled to come to the rescue of man’s best friends: cats and dogs. If treated kindly, they grow into affectionate members of the household. In fact, your house becomes their house. You’re just a happy tenant!
So I thought I would send you images of animals, Pablo Picasso‘s animals.
As you know, Jean-Philippe Rameau was inspired to write Les Indes galantes after watching Amerindians dance. However, after the Prologue, Rameau’s Indes galantes features
a gracious Turk, “un Turc généreux”
Incas from Peru, and
Persians ((Flowers – Persian Feast), “Les Fleurs – Fête persane”
In fact, only the final of the four acts is linked directly to Amerindians. Moreover, that fourth entrée was composed later than the first three acts. It is called
New Act – Les Sauvages (written [Louis Fuzelier] and composed [Rameau] a little later)
Needless to say, this piqued my curiosity. I also noticed the frequent use of the word “nations” in the music literature of the time, beginning with the reign of Louis XIV or as of Jean-Baptiste Lully. The final ballet constituting the Bourgeois gentilhomme is named “Ballets des Nations.” Rameau was Lully’s successor.
For instance, Marin Marais wrote a Suitte [sic] d’un goût [taste] étranger [foreign] in 1717, performed by Jorgi Savall who has been restoring music of the 17th and 18th century. Jorgi Savall provided the music for the film Tous les matins du monde (Every morning in the world). Why say du monde (of the world)?
Savall’s ensemble, called the Concert desnations, has also recorded music by Rameau. It could be that the word had a slightly different connotation, that it simply meant “d’un goût étranger” as in Marin Marais‘s Suitte d’un goût étranger. For six months Marin Marais was a student of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe whose story is told in Tous les matins du monde.
Sifting through the music of François Couperin (10 November 1668 – 11 September 1733), I noted that François Couperin[i] wrote a piece entitled Les Nations. I doubt that in the 17th- and 18th century France, the word nation had the same meaning as it does today. It may have encompassed a wider territory that our current nations. Moreover, Amerindians consisted of nations.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that the Byzantine Empire had fallen into the hands of Ottoman Turks in the middle of the fifteenth century (1453). As a result, Byzantine scholars (Greek culture) fled to Western Europe prompting a Renaissance, the Renaissance. However, if, on the one hand, the fall of the Byzantine Empire had a great impact on Western Europe, the revival of Greek culture, on the other hand, citizens of the now huge Ottoman Empire travelled north creating a taste for all things oriental, but also threatening European cities.
The Orient was not new to Europeans but Orientalism reached an apex in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Orientalism in fashion became known as “turquerie” and, in its early days, “turquerie” included Persia, which may confer a degree of unity to Les Indes galantes’ various entrées. Matters did not change until the publication, in 1721, of Montesquieu‘s Persian Letters (Lettres persanes).
Persian Ambassadors at the Court of Louis XIV, studio of Antoine Coypel, c. 1715 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(please click on the picture to enlarge it)
Montesquieu‘s[i]Persian Letters were written after the visit, at the court of France, of ambassador Mohammed Reza Beg or Mehemet Riza Beg. In 1715, the year Louis XIV died, he was visited by Persian ambassador Mohammed Riza Beg who established an embassy in Marseilles. Montesquieu’s Lettres Persanes were written and published after the ambassador and his entourage spent several months at the court of Louis XIV.
Turqueries à la Molière and Lully
However, the word “turquerie” has two meanings. The first, as we have seen, is orientalism. However, in Molière’s Bourgeois gentilhomme, a “turquerie” is a play-within-a-play that fools Monsieur Jourdain, the senex iratus of the comedy, who is rich but untitled, into thinking he has been conferred a title, that of mamamouchi. Cléonte, the young man who wishes to marry Lucile, who loves him, then asks for her hand in marriage dressed as the son of the Sultan of Turkey. She resists until Cléonte succeeds in letting her know that he is wearing a disguise. (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Act V, Scene 5)
Louis XIV was very fond of turqueries. The music was composed by Jean Baptiste Lully (Giovanni Battista Lulli; 28 November 1632 – 22 March 1687). The ballet was choreographed by Pierre Beauchamp. But the comedy was written by Molière (1622- 1673), one of France’s foremost dramatists ever.
« Le roi veut un ballet, et qu’il y ait une turquerie plaisante ; au poète, au musicien, aux danseurs de bâtir là-dessus un divertissement qui plaise au roi… »
“The king wants a ballet, and wants it to have a pleasant turquerie; the poet, the musician and the dancers must therefore build from this ballet and turquerie entertainment that will please the king…”[ii]
Added to the turquerie, the fifth and final act of theBourgeois gentilhomme (The Would-be Gentleman), is the Ballets des Nations. It features Gascons, people from Gascony, Spaniards and Italians as well as a blend of persons from different classes. So the idea of nation surfaces again.
In short, both the Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670) and Rameau’s Indes galantes are turqueries and illustrate the two kinds of turqueries, Orientalism and a deceitful play-within-a-play. Each may in fact combine elements of both turqueries.
[i] Montesquieu’s full name is Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (18 January 1689 – 10 February 1755), but he is referred to as Montesquieu. His most influential book is The Spirit of the Laws,De l’Esprit des Lois, published in Geneva in 1748.
[ii] Charles Mazouer, Trois comédies de Molière (Bordeaux: Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 2008), p. 17.
Jean-Philippe Rameau was very fond of birds. So the above video blends Rameau’s Forêts paisibles with the art of John James Audubon. I found the lyrics of Forêts paisibles and a translation of the French lyrics in a blog. The translation is literal and does do justice to the original French lyrics, but the words match, which is what we need.
The above site provides a synopsis of Forêts paisibles. It is part of the fourth and final act or entrée of Les Indes galantes. In this entrée, a Spaniard and a Frenchman compete for the love of Zima, daughter of a native chief. She prefers to marry an Amerindian. Everyone dances and smokes the peace pipe called calumet de la paix.
Jamais un vain désir ne trouble ici nos cœurs.
S’ils sont sensibles, (in love)Fortune, ce n’est pas au prix de tes faveurs.
Dans nos retraites,
Grandeur, ne viens jamais offrir tes faux attraits!
Ciel, tu les as faites
Pour l’innocence et pour la paix.
Jouissons dans nos asiles,
Jouissons des biens tranquilles!
Ah! peut-on être heureux,
Quand on forme d’autres vœux?
Peaceful forestsNever (may) a vain desire trouble here our hearts.If they are sensitive,Fortune, it is not at the price of your favors.In our retreats,Greatness, never come to offer your false attractions!Heaven, you have made themFor innocence and for peace.Let’s enjoy our refuges,Let’s enjoy peaceful things.Ah! Can one be happyWhen one has other wishes?
Les Indes galantes features Amerindians, which makes it a unique opéra-ballet. An opéra-ballet is of course different from a tragédie lyrique or French lyric tragedy. Yet, LesIndes galantes bring to mind comedy rather than tragedy. It is, nevertheless, an example of music originating in Italy and brought to France by Lully who created French lyric tragedy, music in the “grand manner.”
The libretto can be read at the following site: Les Indes galantes. The main divisions are Entrées. These are our four acts and include conversations and airs (arias), such as the Air pour les esclaves africains.
You will note that there are two prologues. There should be one only. I thought it was best to include both. Some airs are perhaps missing, but they can be found on YouTube, sung separately, but the following videos is as complete a performance as I could assemble.
Baroque period instruments: a hurdy gurdy, a viola da gamba, a lute, a baroque violin, and baroque guitar.
Jean-Philippe Rameau(25 September, 1683, Dijon – 12 September 1764) is a colossal figure in the development of music.[i] In 1722, he published a Treatise on Harmony (Traité de l’harmonie réduite à ses principes naturels) (Wikipedia). Well, 290 years later, textbooks on harmony teach harmony as described by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Once music students have passed their course(s) on harmony, they may stray from Rameau’s treatise, but even then, Rameau’s treatise remains the standard reference.
Rameau and the French Operatic Tradition
Until Rameau, Italian composers entertained the French. Italian-born Lully (Giovanni Battista Lulli; 28 November 1632 – 22 March 1687) had been a favorite of Louis XIV. He and Molière (1622-1673), born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, had collaborated in creating “divertissements” (entertainment) for the king who was immensely fond of ballet. Allow me to quote the Wikipedia entry on Molière.
“Molière’s friendship with Jean-Baptiste Lully influenced him towards writing his Le Mariage forcé and La Princesse d’Élide (subtitled as Comédie galante mêlée de musique et d’entrées de ballet), written for royal “divertissements” at the Palace of Versailles.”
Yet, although Lully collaborated with Molière on comedies, he went on to create French lyric tragedy which Rameau and his contemporaries inherited. However, there was dissatisfaction with respect to the French lyric tragedy, works in the “grand manner,” such as Les Indes galantes or gallantes. Galant is our keyword. Bach’s sons, Wilhelm Friedemann,Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian, wrote musique galante and were more successful than their father. In fact, Johann Sebastian was forgotten.
The matter culminated in the Querelle des Bouffons (“Quarrel of the Comic Actors”) which took place in Paris, France between 1752 and 1754. The Querelle des Bouffons is usually considered as a paper war weighing the relative merits of French and Italianopera. Wikipedia defines the Querelle des Bouffons as “a war of words between the defenders of the French operatic tradition and the champions of Italian music.” But it may be more accurate to say that the French longed for music that brought tears to their eyes. The reign of reason, dating back to Descartes’s Discourse on Method (1637), was being replaced by the reign of sentiment.
When Jean-Jacques Rousseau joined the Encyclopédistes, he championed feelings. Where our Querelle is concerned, Jean-Jacques Rousseau fired the first salvo, but could not have done so had it not been for a performance of Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona, or The Maid as Mistress. (See RELATED ARTICLE, below)
Rameau’s Les Indes galantes: the “noble Savage”
Yet, despite the criticism levelled at him, Rameau was an excellent composer and one who an opera-ballet featuring “Sauvages,” or Amerindians, Les Indes galantes. In the eighteenth century, le Sauvage was a bon Sauvage. This is how he is depicted by travellers to North America and, in particular, by a French military officer who served in New France from 1683 to 1693, the Baron de Lahontan (9 June 1666 – prior to 1716). As described by Lahontan, in three works published at The Hague, in 1703, the Sauvage is morally superior to Europeans in general and the French in particular. The age of the “Noble Savage” is the age of Jean-Jacques Rousseau who led the Querelle des Bouffons (1752 and 1754).
A Rondeau: Les Sauvages
The history of Les Indes galantes is particularly interesting in that Rameau drew his inspiration from three kinds of dances performed by Amerindians in the Théâtre Italien. According to Wikipedia, “[o]n 25 November 1725, after French settlers of Illinois sent Chief Agapit Chicagou of the Metchigamea and five other chiefs to Paris, they met with Louis XV, and Chicagou had a letter read pledging allegiance to the crown; they later danced three kinds of dances in the Théâtre Italien, inspiring Rameau to compose his rondeau Les Sauvages.” Changes have been made to Britannica, but the author of its former entry on Les Indes galantes stated that the Amerindians who travelled to France had motivated Rameau to compose his rondeau were from Louisiana, which makes sense.
Somewhat mysterious, however, is whether or not this rondeau, entitled Les Sauvages, is a separate piece of music or part of Les Indes galantes. Well, having searched for a solo rondeau entitled Les Sauvages, the piece I discovered was part of the larger Opéra-Ballet. If I have erred, kindly correct me.
Les Indes galantes premiered in Paris at the Académie Royale de Musique et Danse, on 23 August 1735. It was not a great success and it has a long history of revisions and revivals. The 185th eighteenth-century performance of Rameau’s opéra-ballet was played for the last time in 1761. However, by 1961 there had been 246 performances of Les Indes galantes and, in 2005, “Les Indes galantes (Opus Arte) was given a fanciful reading by William Christie and Les Arts Florissants.”[ii]
So my next post features William Christie‘s[iii] “fanciful reading” of Les Indes galantes. I do not have the score of the opéra-ballet, William Christie’s interpretation is not, in my opinion, detrimental to Rameau’s opéra-ballet, as Rameau himself may have envisioned his work.
I must close here, but if you wish to take a peak at Les Indes galantes, my next blog constitutes a short and, in my opinion, delightfully-silly performance Les Indes galantes.
I have used the word “contrapuntal” several times with respect to the voices interwoven in madrigals. Therefore, I have spoken of counterpoint. However, I do not remember mentioning harmony.
Music’s two dimensions
Music resembles time. As you know, for the Greeks, time was both chronos (the horizontal dimension of time) and kairos (the moment, or vertical dimension of time).
Similarly, music has two dimensions: harmony (vertical) and counterpoint (horizontal). Harmony is associated with chords and counterpoint, with melody, but they may intersect.
I just looked up the entry harmony in Wikipedia and found a quotation by Carl Dalhaus (remember The Idea of Absolute Music). He also uses the terms vertical and horizontal to differentiate harmony from counterpoint. I may therefore have picked the terms browsing Dalhaus.
It was not that counterpoint was supplanted by harmony (Bach’s tonal counterpoint is surely no less polyphonic than Palestrina’s modal writing) but that an older type both of counterpoint and of vertical technique was succeeded by a newer type. And harmony comprises not only the (‘vertical’) structure of chords but also their (‘horizontal’) movement. Like music as a whole, harmony is a process.vertical to explain the difference between counterpoint and harmony.[i]
For instance, the fugue is a form that is mostly contrapuntal. However, when the voices touch one another, it has to be harmonically acceptable. Consequently, one cannot dissociate fully harmony and counterpoint. There are links. However, in the curriculum, the study of harmony precedes the study of counterpoint.
The Melodic line
With respect to the melodic line, I cannot go into details because I am writing a mere blog. But, it may be useful to know that, generally speaking, the melodic line takes us from chord to chord, but not necessarily in a chordal fashion. The notes may be distributed over the staff (the lines).
The basic chord consists of three notes, the triad: do-mi-sol or four notes, as in the dominant seventhsol-si-ré-fa, or more notes. These notes may be played simultaneously, in chordal fashion, but they may also be played separately (arpeggiated).
In most traditional music: Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc., the melodic line is eight “measures” long. Just sing Twinkle, twinkle little star or Ah, vous dirais-je, maman. Or sing the choral movement, the Ode to Joy, of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Fully-deployed, the harmonic progression of the melody consists of chords built on I-IV-VII-III-VIII-II-V-I, or do-fa-si-mi-la-ré-sol-do, but a I-IV-V-I progression is just fine. It depends on the length of the melody and other factors.
In solfège, sight-singing, musicians use the do-ré-mi chain. But in harmony, they use Roman numerals.
Throughout the middle-ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque era (c. 1600 – c. 1750), schools worked on the combination of notes. Nowadays students still learn Rameau (harmony) and Fux (counterpoint). However they do not study the original treatises. They use a textbook.
Western Europe’s fundamental theoretical works are:
So, we now know, albeit superficially and in a simplified manner, that harmony is the vertical dimension of music and counterpoint, its horizontal dimension.
What amazes me is that, undergirding sublime music, there should be so much theory. Yet give the barbershop quartet a piece to sing and, if they know the piece, the tune, they just might “harmonize” it very little time, by ear.