SHADOWS OF LOVE

Love is never lost. Its shadow will flow through you forever, soften and purify your heart.

Shadows of Love explores the themes of love, parting and regret realised by six a cappella voices. The programme centres around repertoire selected primarily from the 13th to 15th centuries.

The Wasserspeicher (water reservoir) is one of Berlin’s great historic monuments of architecture; itself a shadow through time. Its crypt-like vaulting, columnar structures and arcades of brick furnish the space with enhanced acoustics—the perfect setting for this repertoire.

Warm clothing is recommended.

Reconstructing Medieval French Pronunciation

~ by J. Keith Atkinson ~

The pronunciation proposed for the songs in this collection is an educated and standardised approximation of what Central French pronunciation would have been in the later Middle Ages (13th to early 16th centuries). From the 13th century onwards it is the gradual adoption of French as the language of law and administration by the royal power centred in Paris that leads to this form of the language being accepted as a linguistic standard; these language forms provide the basis for most educated reconstructions. 

Despite this gradual recognition of the language of the Parisian region (particularly marked after the invention of printing and the use of a standardised language as a powerful tool in producing forms of “national ‘unity”), the literature and language habits of other regions of medieval France reveal specific forms of speech and cultural differences. Amongst the more important would be those of Picardy in the North, Champagne in the East and Norman in the West. Nor should the flourishing of Anglo-Norman literature be forgotten, vibrant until at least the beginning of the 14th century.

The sources for this standardised reconstruction are the result of work by philologists and phoneticians, based on the study of rhymes, graphies (used cautiously and selectively), and occasional word-plays. The language descriptions of rhetoricians and grammarians of the late 15th and 16th centuries provide an invaluable insight into the state of the language at that time.

Example

Here are just two specific examples of differences between Modern and Medieval French pronunciation:

In Modern French, the ‘r’ of an infinitive such as arriver is not pronounced. However, standard medieval rhymes where nouns or adjectives ending in -er rhyme with an infinitve, such as mer : arriver or fer : mener, confirm the pronuncitaion of this ‘r’, and this right up to the 16th century.

In Medieval French the nasal quality of the consonants ‘n’ and ‘m’ influenced the preceding vowels, creating nasalised vowel sounds. But until at least the 16th century the nasal consonants continued to be sounded as well. So, whereas the word monde in Modern French is pronounced [mõd], its medieval pronunciation was [mõndə]. Evidence of this latter phenomenon is to be heard occasionally still in the South of France.