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10 Pages

Authorship and Composition: Music and Poetry in Las Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X, el Sabio

ByRoger D. Tinnell

Controversy surrounds the four hundred and twenty-odd Cantigas de Santa Maria. What musical type served as the model for the cantigas, for example, was it an Arabic zéjel? Higinio Anglés has insisted that the melodies of the cantigas have no relation to Arabic melodies, this in spite of Julián Ribera y Tarragó’s attempts to force the cantiga melodies to correspond with Arabic poetical metres. Gustave Reese admits that the miniatures which accompany the cantigas do indeed prove the Arabic influence on instruments in the peninsula, but he denies proof of Arabic influence on the music itself. 1 Scholars have searched for the musical origin of the cantigas in the Provenzal or Catalan conductus, in troubadour melodies, 2 in Hebrew melody, 3 in both secular and liturgical models.