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Trebor Borlet and Ma tre dol rosignol


Trebor Borlet (14th-15th century) was a 14th- and 15th-century composer whose life we know extremely little about; in fact, it is not certain whether he was French or Spanish. It is thought that his name is an anagram of Trebol, a French composer who served at the court of King Martin I of Aragon in 1409 during the same time as Gacian Reyneau and other composers in the Codex Chantilly.  He is thought to have composed a song of Spanish origin (a verilai) with three verses and a refrain. “Virelai” comes from the French describing a type of dance, and the piece attributed to Borlet was “He, tres doulz roussignol joly.”  If this Trebol is the same as Trebor then he has six surviving compositions. If not then he is only known for his virelai ‘He tres doulz roussignol’ and its variation `Ma tre dol rosignol’, which is also a virelai.

Trebor was a 14th-century composer of polyphonic chansons, active in Navarre and other southwest European courts c. 1380-1400. He may be the same person also called Triboll, Trebol, and Borlet in other contemporaneous sources. The name is likely a reversal of Robert.  His compositions are associated with the style known as ars subtilior, and six of his works survive in one of the most important surviving manuscripts of ars subtilior music, the Chantilly Codex. Some of his pieces explicitly reference historical events such as the Aragonese conquest of Sardinia in 1388-89 and the reign of Gaston Febus, the count of Foix. His music was well known to Avignonese composers of the time, such as Grimace and Franciscus Andrieu, who quoted some of his pieces in their works. He is noted for his use of displacement syncopation and sustained chords, the former of which is one of the hallmark devices of late 14th-century French musical style.

The following work by Trebor Borlet is contained in my collection:

Ma tre dol rosignol.


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