Muset, Colin


Muset, Colin
(ca. 1200–ca. 1250)
   Colin Muset was a JONGLEUR, a professional musician active in northern France in the second quarter of the 13th century. His status as jongleur is clear from the references in his lyrics to the instruments he plays, including the viele (an early type of fiddle) and the flageolet (a kind of duct flute related to the recorder). Colin is of particular interest because, unlike many jongleurs, he was not simply a performer but also composed his own lyrics; but unlike most of the well-known TROUVÈRES, he was not a member of the noble class and so was not educated in traditional classical rhetoric. Nothing specific is known of Colin’s life. He is thought to have been born in the area of Lorraine or Champagne, and to have performed in the noble houses of the Upper Marne Valley. Critics have praised Colin for his originality, for he touches on themes uncommon in the courtly tradition. In general these are a reflection of his socioeconomic status: He praises generous patrons and chastises stingy ones; he longs for good food and the good life. He gives us a glimpse of the life of the wandering musician in 13th-century France. In one poem he says:
   When I see winter coming again,
   then I’d like to settle down,
   if I could find a host
   who was generous and not anxious to count,
   and had pork and beef and mutton,
   mallards, pheasants, and venison,
   fat chickens and capons
   and good cheeses in straw,
   and the lady were as full
   as the husband of solicitude,
   and always tried to please me
   (Goldin 1973, 439, ll. 1–11)
   Colin is also known for his casual attitude toward the technical aspects of his composition: He will use identical words to rhyme, or assonance instead of rhyme, or will compose lines that do not fit the meter he is using. Perhaps this unconcerned attitude stems from his lack of courtly education. In addition his music is simple in style and form, similar to folk songs. Despite these things Colin is one of the most admired of the trouvères. Fifteen of his lyrics survive, along with eight melodies, preserved in eight manuscripts.
   Bibliography
   ■ Bédier, Joseph. De Nicolao Museto. Geneva, Switzerland: Slatkine Reprints, 1973.
   ■ Goldin, Frederick, ed. and trans. Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouvères: An Anthology and a History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973.
   ■ Tischler, Hans, ed. Trouvère Lyrics with Melodies: Complete Comparative Edition. Neuhausen, Germany: Hänssler-Verlag, 1997.
   ■ van der Werf, Hendrik. The Chansons of the Troubadours and Trouvères: A Study of the Melodies and Their Relation to the Poems. Utrecht, Netherlands: A. Oosthoek, 1972.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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