Gaucelm Faidit: Fortz Chausa es

Hear our recording here.

See the Score here.

Gaucelm Faidit (1150? - 1220?)
Like Bernard de Ventadorn, Gaucelm Faidit became one of the most respected troubadors of his time. Like Bernard and many other troubadours, his career was filled with wandering from court to court throughout Europe as far east as modern Hungary as well as possibly going on the fourth crusade. Unlike Bernard, he appears to have had a stable family life. Faidit's vida reads as follows:
Gaucelm Faidit was from a village named Uzerche, which is in the Limousin. He was the son of a middle-class man. He sang worse than any man in the world, but he could create many beautiful melodies with fine words. He became a jongleur [musician] after losing everything in a game of dice. He was a man of great generosity and was a glutton when it came to eating and drinking; consequently, he was very large in measurement. For a long time he was so unlucky in receiving honor or gifts, and so for more than twenty years he went around by foot and neither he nor his songs were appreciated by anyone.
He took as his woman a prostitute who went around with him for many years; she was named Guilhelma Monja. She was very beautiful and well educated, and she also became as large and fat as he. And she was from a rich town named Alest, in the march of Provence, under the lordship of Bernart of Anduza.
And the marquis Sir Boniface of Montferrat provided him with property and clothing and placed him andhis songs in very great esteem.

It's likely that much of the vida was written sarcastically, in that the biographer plays with various stock phrases of the biography to portray Faidit as poor in voice and money, when in reality Faidit was a nobleman and highly sucessful.
Fortz chausa es is an example of a sub-genre of troubadour song known as the planh, or lament. This particular lament was written on the death of the famous king Richard the Lionhearted. Richard served as King of England from 1189 until his tragic death on March 26, 1199 from a wound received during a skirmish in the Limousin. Richard is known for his leadership of the Third Crusade during which he failed twice to take Jerusalem. Eventually Richard and Salah-ad-Din would sign a truce in November 1192 giving the Crusaders access to the coast and the Muslims the interior.
Of Faidit's work, sixty-five to seventy poems and fourteen melodies survive.

Uzerche in the 12th century

Things to Note
There is little agreement as to what the music of troubadours actually sounded like. Consequently, individual performances will differ in ways greater than simply the tempo (speed) of the work. Some performances will be more rhythmicized than others; some will accompany singers with instruments; in some cases the melodies themselves differ significantly from one manuscript to another. Indeed the three sources of the melody of Fortz chausa es differ significantly. What is certain, however, is that all troubador music is sung in the vernacular.
Fortz chausa es is a particularly beautiful song and comes across almost as an outpouring of grief. This is acheived through the shifts in vocal register, unexpected melismas, and avoidance of phrase repetition. Notice interestingly the large melodic descent at the text Richard in the first stanza. Notice also how each phrase cadences at a diffferent point and always lower in pitch than where it starts.
The listening chart follows the first version, by Thomas Binkley and the Studio der Fruhen Musik. It uses two different singers who sing alternate verses and further accompanies the voice with a vielle and guitar. They also replace verse 3 below with verse6. The second version is quite different and uses only one singer.

For a comprehensive site with pictures and recordings of medieval instruments, I highly recommend this,
Listening Chart

Gaucelm Faidit: Fortz Chausa es (1199)

0:00 Introduction for vielle (a kind of keyed medieval stringed instrument)
Fortz chausa es... 1:08 Stanza 1, sung to vielle accompaniment. Note the section at 1:50 with the announcement of the death of Richard.

2:34 Interlude: Entrance of the chittara saracena, or Saracen Guitar

Mortz es lo reis 3;12 Stanza 2: Sung to guitar accompaniment

4:50 Interlude(?) 2: Vielle solo
Oimais no.i a esperanssa 5:04 Stanza 6: Sung to Vielle accompaniment.

6:38 Interlude(?) 3
Ai! senhor Dieus 6:54 Tornada: Melody starts at second half of the verse.

8:00 Concluding Instrumental

Richard the Lionhearted

Fortz chausa es

1) Fortz chaua e que tot lo major dan
e-l major dol, la! q'ieu anc mais agues,
e so don dei totztemps plaigner ploran,
m'aven a dir en chantan e retraire -
Car cel q'era de valor caps e paire
lo rics valens Richartz, reis dels Engles,
es mortz - Ai Deus! cals perd'e cals dans es!
cant estrains motz, e cant greus ad auzir!
Ben a dur cor totz hom q'o pot sofrir.

2) Mortz es lo reis, e son passat mil an
c'anc tant pros hum non fo, ni no-l vi res,
ni mais non er nulls hom del sieu semblan
tant larcs, tant rics, tant arditz, tals donaire,
q'Alixandres, lo reis qui venquent Daire,
non cre que tant dones ni tant meses,
ni anc Karles ni Artus plus valgues,
c'a tot lo mon si fetz, qui-n vol ver dir,
als us doptar et als autres grazir.

3) Meravill me del fals segle truan,
co-i pot estar savis hom ni cortes,
puois re no-i val beill dich ni faich prezan,
e doncs per que s'esfors om, pauc, ni gaire?
q'eras nos a mostrat Mortz que pot faire,
q'a un sol colp a-l meillor del mon pres,
tota l'onor, totz los gaugs, totz los bes;
e pos vezem que res no-i pot gandir,
ben deuri' hom meins doptar a morir!

4) Ai valens reis seigner, e que faran
Oimais armas ni fort tornei espes,
Ni richas cortz ni beill don aut e gran,
Pois vos no.i etz, qui n'eratz capdelaire,
Ni que faran li liurat a maltraire,
Cill que s'eran en vostre servir mes,
C'atendion que.l guizerdos vengues!
Ni que faran cill, degran aucir,
C'aviatz faitz en grand ricor venir

5) Longa ira et avol vid' auran,
E totztemps dol, q'enaissi lor es pres!
E Sarrazin, Turc, Paian e Persan, doptavon mais c'ome nat de maire,
Creisseran tant en orguoil lor afaire,
Qe.l Sepulcres n'er trop plus tart conques --
Mas Dieus o vol! que, s'el non o volgues,
E vos, seigner, visquessetz, ses faillir,
De Suria los avengr' a fugir.

6) Oimais no.i a esperanssa qe.i an
Reis ni princeps que cobrar lo saubes
Pero, tuich cill qu'en luoc de vos seran
Devon gardar cum fotz de pretz amaire,
Ni cal foron vostre dui valen fraire,
Lo Joves Reis e.l cortes Coms Jaufres!
Et qui en luoc remanra, de vos tres
Ben deu aver aut cor e ferm cossir
De far bos faitz e de socors chausir.

7) Ai! seigner dieus! vos q'etz vers perdonaire,
vers Dieus, vers hom, vera vida, merces!
Perdonatz li, que ops e cocha l'es,
e no gardetz, Seigner, al sieu faillir,
e membre vos cum vos anet servir!

Fortz chausa es

1) It is a very cruel event, the gratest misfortune
and the greatest sorrow, alas, that I have ever had
one which I must always lament, weeping,
that I must tell and recount in song
for he who was the head and father of valor,
the strong, the powerful Richard, king of the English,
is dead - Alas God! what a loss, what a blow!
such a harsh statement, so painful to hear,
hard of heart is any man who can endure it.

2) The King is dead, and not for a thousand years
has there been, or has anyone seen, so splendid a man,
nor was there ever a man equal to him,
so open, so powerful, so courageous, so generous
so I believe not even Alexander, the king who vanquished Darius,
gave or distributed as much as he,
nor were Charlemagne nor King Arthur more valiant
for to speak the truth, he knew
how to dominate some in this world, and to be kind to others.

3) I marvel that in this false, deceitful age
there can be any wise and courtly man,
for neither fair words nor fine deeds ensure these qualities,
and then, why should a man exert himself little or much,
when Death has shown what he can do
at one blow claiming the world's best -
all honor, all joys, all good -
and since we see that it is inescapable,
man ought not to fear dying so much.

4) Ah! noble lord, what will now become
Of arms, or hotly contested tournaments.
Rich courts or splendid, magnificent gifts,
Since you are not there, who were their guiding spirit,
And what will they do, those delivered unto suffering,
Who has placed themselves in your service,
And who were waiting for the reward to come;
And what will they do, who should kill themselves,
Whom you had brought to great power?

5) Long suffering and miserable life they will have
And endless grief, for such is their fate;
And Saracens, Turks, Pagans, and Persians,
Who dreaded you more than any man born of woman,
Will so greatly increase their arrogant attitude
That the Holy Sspulchre will be conquered much later -
But God wills it, for, if he had not wanted this,
And if you, Lord, had lived, without fail.
They would have had to flee Syria.

6) Henceforth there is no hope that they will go there
Kings and Prices who might know how to recover it!
However, all those who will be in your place
Must contemplate how you loved merit,
And who were your two valiant brothers,
The Young King and the courtly Count Geoffrey;
And he who will remain in place of you three there
Must surely have high courage and the firm will
To do fine deeds and to choose (to offer) assistance.

7) Alas, Lord god! you who are the true forgiver of sins,
true God, true man, true life - have mercy!
Pardon him, for he has need of your grace,
Lord, do not remember his sins,
but remember how he was going to serve you.