Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Mitchell P. Brauner

Second Advisor

Gillian Rodger

Committee Members

Mitchell Brauner, Timothy Miller


Debate, France, Music, Partimen, Tenso, Troubadour


The troubadour repertory consists of an elaborate complex of genres, some of which are dialogs that employ argumentation in the form of a debate or contest. The precise classification of these debate songs, especially the tenso and partimen genres, involves a measure of controversy that arose in the fourteenth century and continues today. Modern scholars in both literary and musical disciplines reference the dispute in their study of these songs, but largely gloss over the controversy to uphold the traditional parameters of their own disciplines. For literary scholars, this means treating these dialogs as lyric poetry, and musicologists tend to neglect this class of troubadour song because of the lack of extant musical notation.

The goal of this study is to combine the literary and musical approaches with the concept of debate as a significant cultural force. The tenso and partimen genres participated in a culture of debate found in institutions such as the medieval university, and legal court systems. The troubadours drew upon topics such as the seven liberal arts, dialectical reasoning, law codes, and legal rhetoric as source material for the content of the debate songs. These topics also provide a foundation for understanding the context of the debate songs as a performative genre. In addition, I apply the techniques of poetic and musical analysis to two songs Amics Bernarz del Ventadorn, and S’ie∙us qier conseill, bella amia Alamanda.