Rondeau (music)
The rondeau was a Medieval
Medieval music
Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

 and early Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 musical form
Musical form
The term musical form refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections...

, based on the contemporary popular poetic
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

Rondeau (poetry)
This article is about the poetry form. For other uses, see Rondeau.A rondeau is a form of French poetry with 15 lines written on two rhymes, as well as a corresponding musical form developed to set this characteristic verse structure...

 form. It is distinct from the 18th century rondo
Rondo, and its French equivalent rondeau, is a word that has been used in music in a number of ways, most often in reference to a musical form, but also to a character-type that is distinct from the form...

, though the terms are likely related. With the virelai
A virelai is a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music. It is one of the three formes fixes and was one of the most common verse forms set to music in Europe from the late thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries.A virelai is similar to a rondeau...

 and the ballade
Ballade (musical form)
A ballade refers to a one-movement musical piece with lyrical and dramatic narrative qualities.- Medieval ballades :The term ballade was used to describe one type of musical setting of French poetry common in the 14th and 15th centuries...

, it is one of the three formes fixes
Formes fixes
A Forme fixé is any one of three fourteenth and fifteenth centuries French poetic forms, the ballade, rondeau and virelai...

 of French music and poetry in the 14th and 15th centuries.

The rondeau form calls for a rigid pattern of repetition of verse
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

 and refrain
A refrain is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in verse; the "chorus" of a song...

, following the evolving rhyme-scheme of the poetic form, ranging from eight lines to as many as 21. The most commonly used form is ABaAabAB, where capital letters refer to repetition of the (two-part) refrain text and music while lowercase letters refer to repetition of music alone with a new text. The following short song by Machaut, "Doulz viaire gracieus", illustrates the pattern in its simplest, 8-line form, where each musical part corresponds to a single line of lyrics:
  music part A music part B
Refrain A Doulz viaire gracieus B de fin cuer vous ay servi.
  a1 Weillies moy estre piteus,  
Refrain A Doulz viaire gracieus,  
  a2 Se je sui un po honteus b2 ne me mettes en oubli
Refrain A Doulz viaire gracieus B de fin cuer vous ay servi.
Sweet gracious face, I have served you with a sincere heart,
If you will have pity on me,
Sweet gracious face,
If I am a bit shy, don't embarrass me,
Sweet gracious face, I have served you with a sincere heart.

Early rondeaux are usually found as interpolations in longer narrative poems, and separate monophonic
In music, monophony is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave . If the entire melody is sung by two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in...

 musical settings survive. While early poetic rondeaux are often in mixed meter
Meter (poetry)
In poetry, metre is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse metre, or a certain set of metres alternating in a particular order. The study of metres and forms of versification is known as prosody...

, this is rare in later rondeaux set to music.

The earliest surviving polyphonic rondeaux are by the trouvère
Trouvère , sometimes spelled trouveur , is the Northern French form of the word trobador . It refers to poet-composers who were roughly contemporary with and influenced by the troubadours but who composed their works in the northern dialects of France...

 Adam de la Halle
Adam de la Halle
Adam de la Halle, also known as Adam le Bossu was a French-born trouvère, poet and musician, whose literary and musical works include chansons and jeux-partis in the style of the trouveres, polyphonic rondel and motets in the style of early liturgical polyphony, and a musical play, "The Play of...

. Later, Guillaume de Machaut
Guillaume de Machaut
Guillaume de Machaut was a Medieval French poet and composer. He is one of the earliest composers on whom significant biographical information is available....

, Guillaume Dufay
Guillaume Dufay
Guillaume Dufay was a Franco-Flemish composer of the early Renaissance. As the central figure in the Burgundian School, he was the most famous and influential composer in Europe in the mid-15th century.-Early life:From the evidence of his will, he was probably born in Beersel, in the vicinity of...

 and other prominent composers were prolific in the form.

Although far rarer than the French usage, the Italian equivalent
Music of the trecento
The Trecento was a period of vigorous activity in Italy in the arts, including painting, architecture, literature, and music. The music of the Trecento paralleled the achievements in the other arts in many ways, for example, in pioneering new forms of expression, especially in secular song in the...

, the rondello was occasionally composed and listed among the Italian forms of poetry for music. A single rondello appears in the Rossi Codex
Rossi Codex
The Rossi Codex is a music manuscript collection of the 14th century. The manuscript is presently divided into two sections, one in the Vatican Library and another, smaller section in the Northern Italian town of Ostiglia. The codex contains 37 secular works including madrigals, cacce and,...

. In addition, several rondeaux in French appear entirely in sources originating in Italy, the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, suggesting that these works (including Esperance, qui en mon cuer) may not have a purely French provenance.

Later, in the Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 era, the label rondeau (or the adjectival phrase en rendeau) was applied to dance movements in simple refrain form by such composers as Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste de Lully was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in...

 and Louis Couperin
Louis Couperin
Louis Couperin was a French Baroque composer and performer. He was born in Chaumes-en-Brie and moved to Paris in 1650–51 with the help of Jacques Champion de Chambonnières. Couperin worked as organist of the Church of St. Gervais in Paris and as musician at the court...


Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

's Pierrot Lunaire
Pierrot Lunaire
Dreimal sieben Gedichte aus Albert Girauds 'Pierrot lunaire' , commonly known simply as Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21 , is a melodrama by Arnold Schoenberg...

 sets 21 poems by Albert Giraud
Albert Giraud
Albert Giraud , was a Belgian poet who wrote in French.-Biography:Giraud was born Emile Albert Kayenbergh in Leuven, Belgium. He studied law at the University of Louvain. He left university without a degree and took up journalism and poetry...

, each of which is a 13-lined poetic rondeau.
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