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Anonymous, Cantigas de Santa Maria

Alfonso X of Spain (referred to as Alfonso el Sabio, Alfonso the Learned) ruled over two of the first Spanish kingdoms, Castille and Leon, through the thirteenth century. He patronized performers of all types, marketed the sciences and learning, and his courtroom was home not merely to Christian scholars and performers, but Muslims and Jews. His biggest musical success was collecting the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Tracks to Holy Mary). The tracks themselves are private, but show a number of different musical affects, including troubadour (French and Italian, especially with the trouvere and monk Gautier de Coincy), minnesinger, and Arabic music, from secular music and sacred music, French motet design, and Gregorian chant. Some melodies appear to are based on Galician folk music, which itself displays a solid Celtic impact. These tracks represent the crossroads of several musical cultures so that as a series are arguably exclusive in music background being a convergence of designs. Alfonso took a dynamic component in collecting the tracks and could well have created a few of them. Guiraut Riquer, who got visited Alfonso’s courtroom, may be another composer. The four manuscripts’ illustrations display instrumentalists, performers, and poets, and these portraits most likely include lots of the collection’s poets and composers, aswell as their initial performers.

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