Stereophony and Literature: Resonance and Reverberation in the Chansons de Gestes and Romances of the 12th and 13th Centuries


  • Jean-Marie Fritz Université de Bourgogne


Chanson de geste, chivalric romance, sound landscape, hunting, noise


The chansons de geste and chivalric romances from the 12th and 13th centuries are a faithful testimony of the reality of their time, and sensory perceptions are among these testimonies. The written word provides not only descriptive and objective information, but also the impressions perceived and conveyed by the author, which are the sensations the reader has to get acquainted with in order to make the story their own. Mentions to sound effects and the sound features of a particular space are remarkable, and a compilation of these references from various texts allows us to study the sounds, resonances, and spaces through which the sound event gains prominence in the narrative. These include confined spaces such as halls and palaces, and open spaces such as woods, and war and hunting scenes. The voices, cries, sounds of instruments, sound gestures, and sound experiences of spaces thus acquire a theatrical quality that becomes part of the reading experience. The authors often evoke the effect of a resonance, an echo, a reverberation or a stereophonic effect, thus endowing the text with the emotional qualities of a soundtrack.