Meaning of Chanting

By | February 13, 2021

According to DigoPaul, the concept of chanting is used to name a kind of epic text that, in the Middle Ages, was used to narrate the adventures of a hero. These works allowed the representation and diffusion of the models of a culture or a people.

The deed songs are poems of great length that have a mythological or historical character as the protagonist. They generally have an extension of more than 2000 verses, in some cases reaching up to 20,000.

In medieval times most people were illiterate. That is why the songs of deed used to be transmitted orally by the minstrels. When the poem was very long, the minstrel divided the story and narrated it in more than a day.

Some chants of deed even presented summaries of previous events in certain fragments. In this way they allowed listeners to keep in mind the events that had been narrated previously, or even facilitated more people to join the recital in question.

Thanks to the copies that were made of these poems in manuscripts, which later became printed works, the chants of feats reached the present time.

Regarding the minstrels, we must remember that they were the ones who disseminated the works orally throughout the 11th and 12th centuries, and they did so precisely because of the aforementioned inability to read and write in society in general. The songs were grouped in runs, whose length in verses varied, since a relationship was established between those who had the same assonance at the end of each verse, as well as their meaning.

El Cantar de mio Cid is among the most famous songs of deed. This anonymous work, which was supposedly written in the year 1200, presents the story of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, known as El Cid Campeador.

It is important to point out that the Cantar de mio Cid is one of the few that are preserved on paper, along with the Cantar de las Mocedades and several verses from the Cantar de Roncesvalles. Taking as reference some fragments of incorrect prose in the chronicles, a group of philologists managed to reconstruct certain passages of the Castilian epic, although their work does not reflect the original works one hundred percent.

The Spanish medieval epic has a vitality that far exceeds that of the German and French, as well as being the only one that lasts orally in Spanish-speaking countries. Even today, in various towns in Latin America and Spain, various fragments of the chansons of gesta are recited, which are transmitted from father to son.

In the Cantar de mio Cid, a story is told in which true nobility triumphs, that which originates in optimism, merit and effort, over that of blood, represented by the infants of Carrión.

In the Mocedades de Rodrigo, which dates from approximately 1360 and that makes it the latest song, some episodes from the life of the Cid are narrated, more precisely from his youth.

The verses of the Cantar de Roncesvalles, which are around one hundred, is the only test written in Castilian where the influence of the so-called matter of France or Carolingian is seen, a set of legends that in France gave rise to the composition of the Cantar de Roldán.

Precisely, the Song of Roldán is one of the best known in France; its creation is believed to have taken place around the latter part of the 11th century. The “Beowulf” in English and the “Song of the Nibelungs” in German are also deed songs that are popular today.