Sunday, April 10, 2011

Virelai

"Viola?"

No, Virelai. I've loved it ever since I fist saw it.

"Violante?"

No, although I love that one too. It's Virelai (pronounced "VEER-ah-lie"). It's derived from the Old French virer meaning "to turn" or "to twist."

Virelai is the name of a type of rhyming structure for poetry and songs that was popular in France during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It was one of the three formes fixes ("fixed forms") along with the ballade and the rondeau. The "to turn" meaning suggests that this music was meant to be accompanied by dancing. However, no virelai music exists today and it's pretty much used exclusively for poetry.

The basic explanation is that a virelai has an ABBA structure, only it's more complicated. It will probably make more sense to actually read one, so here's an English language virelai by Eric Armentrout called "People I Once Knew."

Thinking back a few
Years, three, maybe two,
I'd say,
On Fifth Avenue
Stood my house of blue
And gray.
Neighbors (I had a few)
Were friends that I knew
Would stay.

But to my dismay
They all moved away
From me.
I don't know where they
Are living today,
You see,
But I do still pray
They'll come back someday
To me.


Virelai is one of my absolute favorites. It's so lyrical and exotic. I would love to use it for a daughter one day. Or son. I mean, it does read feminine to me, but I guess if you're Russian and you come into contact with a lot of boys names like Alexei, it might read masculine.

"Are you sure this is actually used as a name?"

Well, since I found it on a baby name website, there has to be at least one Virelai. But it would be very rare.

"Ah...I think I got it now. Lorelei, right?"

Sigh.

Sources:
http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/textv/Virelai.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virelai

Image Credit:
http://amuletz.deviantart.com/art/our-hands-held-magic-145040823

2 comments:

  1. Wow, that is a BEAUTIFUL name!

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  2. I stumbled on this because I just, completely independently, used this name for a gaming character I just created- a female elf bard. I think it's gorgeous, and that it would make a beautiful name for a child, as well.

    Also, while it's true that the virelai doesn't exist today as a musical form in that nobody writes it anymore, you should be able to find some recordings of the virelais written by Guillaume De Marchet.

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