Douce dame jolie is one of those super-mega medieval hits. It gets recorded a lot. And now it's in English!
Master Efenwealt Wystle has it on his latest release, Songs from the Sock Drawer. The liner notes say that the transliteration is by Anne Lister, who may be this folk singer. The song is available for download (just 99 cents!) at Master Efenwealt's MySpace page. (Scroll down til you see the black box in the right column.)
I don't see the transliteration available on the Internet anywhere, and I'm not going to transcribe it from the CD. It's worth your 99 cents to learn a singable version. But if you want to hear the tune, we can go to YouTube and find:
This weekend's "not a baked eel" selection is prose, not song, but it would make eminently suitable material for an original piece.
The "loathly lady" is a story type that usually goes over well today. The male protagonist is in search of the answer to the question, "What do women want?" which he must answer or else forfeit his life. After getting many answers from many people (which range from the pedestrian to the avaricious to the risque), he finds an old and ugly woman who can tell him the true answer, but only if he'll swear to marry her. He does, and she reveals the answer: Sovereignty. Later, she offers him a choice that can magically change her appearance - but he lets her make up her own mind on the matter, which is how her curse is undone.
The most famous of these stories is surely The Wife of Bath's Tale. In this one, the lady is old and ugly, and she tells her new, reluctant husband that he can have her fair and faithless, or foul and faithful. I first encountered the trope in The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell, in which Sir Gawain, also faced with a loathly bride, has the slightly different options of fair by day and foul by night (which would win him renown in court, for having a lovely wife) or the reverse (which would make him a happier man). John Gower's Tale of Florent is yet another version, which I admit I haven't heard of before today.
The madrigal I've been adapting for the maypole lyrics is itself a lovely, fun song. The English is more than modern enough to require no translation; the melody is fun and amusing all by itself. It's popular enough that if you start the melody in the right company, you may have a spontaneous four-part madrigal by the time you're done.
ChoralWiki has nine different versions available, in a wide variety of file formats (both sheet music and audio files) for free.
If you're a "learn by ear" sort, here's a nice YouTube video of a four-member, apparently French group performing it:
Movement on stage: Standing stiffly like a rock is no good, but neither is aimless wandering.
The Taipei Chamber Singers's guest conductor is clearly enjoying the heck out of this. They're singing the "on the greeny grass" (instead of "a-dancing on the grass") variant, and really working the dynamics of the song. I don't know if Morley indicated that the verses should be sung alternating forte and piano, but it's a nice effect.
Solo performance with instruments by a Spanish (? at least, the band's name is Spanish) group, also "greeny grass." [Edit: No, not Spanish; Portugese or Brazilian, I think.]
This weekend's "not a baked eel" musical recommendation: E, Dame Jolie by Master Efenwealt Wystle, also available for a mere pittance at $0.99.
Master Efenwealt is surely one of Atlantia's finest bards. Along with a wide repertoire of silly and bawdy songs, he's written some touching ballads and "Fair Lady Atlantia," possibly the unofficial Atlantian anthem. This song is actual a dual recording of the original trouvére song in Old French and Master Efenwealt's rhymed translation.
It's a love song; well, you can read the lyrics here. There's an audio sample there as well, if you want to take a listen to the tune. It's not a merry, jaunty lark like "Non Sofre," last week, but this isn't a jaunty lark of a poem. It's a very pretty melody, fairly simple and straightforward but also lyrical and unmistakably medieval. It's short, so it's very possible to sing both the Old French and the English translations in a single performance, or you could perform just the English.