Seikilos Epitaph and Ancient Grecian Society
Ancient Grecian society was already predisposed to the creation of poetry and dance, and as such, music was an integral and inseparable part. However, with the advent of the stringed instrument, music began to exist on its own. The basic musical notation was divided into vocal and instrumental, and as most music of the time was monophonic, or with improvised harmony, there remains many discrepancies between musical pieces (Columbia).
Seikilos Epitaph is the first complete work of Ancient Grecian music found today. Not much is known about the life of Seikilos, other than the fact that he was a poet, and the composer for this piece. When the book Introduction to Music was found, written around 360 AD by Alypius, the musical notation of the age became decipherable (Columbia).
While Ancient Greece prospered, music prospered. Once Rome conquered the greeks and the Roman Empire reigned, there was little emphasis placed on music and it gradually faded away (Columbia).
La Dousa Votz and Middle Ages France
France in the Middle Ages was the cultural center of Europe. Having just come out of the Dark Ages, the Ars Nova movement was beginning to take effect. Some of the first secular pieces to come out of the Ars Nova movement were the songs of the troubadours (of Southern France) and the trouvères (of Northern France). Similar to these artists, composers, and performers were the Minnesingers of Germany. Both the troubadours and trouvères of France used the either Old French or Provençal in their lyrics. Though modern musical notation did exist at this point in time, it was rudimentary at best, and the composers tended to simply pass their songs orally from performer to performer. Oftentimes, when the troubadour was not present, or was not a musician, the performer, called the jongleur, would improvise accompaniment to these troubadour songs (Newman).
Highly esteemed by the court, troubadour songs such as La Dousa Votz were written to poems penned for the royalty. In this case, Bernart de Ventadorn, who composed to Queen Eleanor or Aquitaine, wrote the song and performed it in court for her audience (Newman).