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Saturday morning quotes 3.33: from Mésangeau to Molière

December 28, 2013

For a dose of year-end absurdity, our quotes are drawn from the writing of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière (1622 –1673).

Don Juan: “I believe that two and two are four, Sganarelle, and that four and four are eight.”

Sganarelle: “What a fine creed that is! So far as I can see, your religion consists of arithmetic.”

– Molière, from Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre, circa 1660

Just as there is wisdom underlying Molière’s humor, there is method to our madness in tapping into his work.  One of our projects for 2014 is to record a second volume of French airs de cour; the album is titled Doulce Mémoire, and we are defining the scope of the repertoire as ranging from Mésangeau to Molière.

René Mésangeau (fl. 1567–1638) was a  contemporary of Robert Ballard, Jean-Baptiste Besard, and Ennemond Gaultier, and was in the service of Louis XIII where he held the title ecuyer suivant ordinairement la cour, and musicien ordinaire de Roi.  Among his scant surviving output (22 courantes, 15 allemandes, 7 sarabandes and one bransle), Mésangeau’s early courantes offer a snapshot of the subtle sound-world of French music from the early 17th century. As a New Year’s Gift, we offer a pdf of edited lute tablatures for two of his earliest known courantes, written in old tuning and to be played without the instrument’s top string.

Our Doulce Mémoire project outline – from Mésangeau to Molière – offers chronological clarity as well as aesthetic variety and range, and signifies both the depth of nuance in the music for solo lute, and the functional aspect of so many airs which were conceived as popular music to be performed as pure entertainment.

We leave you with this thought, also from from Molière’s Dom Juan, where his character, Sganarelle (who was played by Molière himself), offers a reality check:

My argument, whatever you may say, is that there’s something wonderful in man which all the wise heads can’t explain. Isn’t it marvelous that I’m here, and that I have something in my head that can think a hundred different things in a second, and can make my body do whatever it likes? I can choose to clap my hands, lift my arms, raise my eyes to Heaven, bow my head, shift my feet, move to the right, to the left, forward, backward, turn around . . . (In turning around, he falls down.)

We offer a reality check as well, and ask you to visit our campaign that will enable us to continue our music and our blog.  Support Our Tropes.

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