Composer: Moniot d’Arras

Piece: Ce fut en mai (In Early May)

Date: 1235

Form: Chanson

Texture: Homophonic

Musical Form: AABB

Rhyme Scheme: aab aab ccd ccd (for each stanza)

Moniot d’Arras (active 1213-1239), one of the last of the trouvéres, was a monk at the abbey of St. Vaast. His work in his native Arras marked the end of the trouvére tradition. Characteristic is his love song Ce fut en mai. The poem tells of an unhappy lover who finds solace in religious feeling. The music is folk-like and charming, and makes no attempt to express the unhappiness described in the text. The song is homophonic in texture, consisting of a single line of melody heard against an accompaniment that was improvised.


In this recording the accompaniment is played by a psaltery, a dulcimer, and a vielle. The psaltery was a Medieval folk instrument like our zither, consisting of a soundbox over which were stretched four or five melody strings and a larger number of accompaniment strings; these were plucked. The dulcimer resembled the psaltery but it’s strings were struck with little hammers. The vielle is an ancestor of the violin.


The poem consists of five verses (stanzas) and the musical form is strophic, meaning the same melody is repeated for every verse of the poem. A brief instrumental interlude is repeated between each verse. The use of a poem based in verses dictates the repetition of the musical sections. The music responds to the fixed form of the poetry, creating a strong relationship between the words and music.