Read Me to Sleep, Ricky

12th-century Troubadour Songs

October 14, 2022 Rick Whitaker
Read Me to Sleep, Ricky
12th-century Troubadour Songs
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Show Notes

Read Me to Sleep, Ricky host Rick Whitaker reads new translations of songs composed 800 years ago. 

Troubadours were well-known secular entertainers whose songs explored love and politics, mostly love, and mostly "distant love." Troubadours were active during the High Middle Ages, 1100-1350.

The  word troubadour arose from the Occitan language. Occitania was never a country or single political entity, but more of a cultural group united by the use of the Occitan language and geography. 

The region considered Occitania contained parts of present-day southern France, Monaco, and small pieces of Spain and Italy.  Occitan is a Romance language deriving from Latin and is similar in various ways to French, Italian, and Spanish.

Troubadours were generally supported by a wealthy patron for a period of time before traveling to a new court.  In the rigid social structure of the Middle Ages, troubadours occupied an ambiguous place.  Many of the early troubadours came from the nobility, either the high nobility or the class of knights, but throughout the era, troubadours from lower social classes also emerged.  

Troubadours were employed to entertain at court, and often enjoyed many of the pleasures and privileges enjoyed by the wealthiest members of society.  It is as a result of this patronage that many important examples of their songs and poetry survive.  Troubadours would create songbooks known as chansoniers for their patrons, and the preservation of these books in libraries of castles allows them to now grace some of the top international research libraries.

The recording is by Studio der frühen Musik led by the singer Thomas Binkley in 1970. 

The translations are adapted by Rick Whitaker. 

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Read Me to Sleep, Ricky is hosted by Rick Whitaker and produced in New York City.