La Nouvelle Alienor

When Spring revives our cold north land,
And Winter flees in fear of sun,
How can we but thank the Lady whose command
Inspires our music, and our fun?


This is what nobility is for,
La Nouvelle Alienor.
May her star shine bright forevermore,
La Nouvelle Alienor.

Patroness of science and of art,
Like Eleanor of Aquitaine,
Princess Kelinda served her Royal part
With joy and song throughout her reign.


Beloved of bards, of knights and players too,
Whose arts she champions tirelessly,
Her lovely Stellar Highness knows a thing or two
Of joie-de-vivre and courtoisie.


You held the Northshield throne so long,
Of Love and Beauty, Princess true.
And in return, Your one request is for a song.
This is the least we owe to you.

Chorus, sung twice

Written this fifth day of April, A.S. XXXIV, at the request of His Stellar Highness Gaylen the Smiling, in honor of his Lady, Her Stellar Highness Kelinda Garrett; for presentation at the Tournament of Chivalry in the Barony of Jaravellir, April 15, 2000.
Words and music, ę 2000, ╔liane HalÚvy/Jennifer Friedman.

Prince Gaylen and Princess Kelinda will always have a special place in my SCA memories, because they were elevated to the Coronet of Northshield in my own home Shire of Falcon's Keep, at a Coronet for which we all worked our medieval butts off to give to them and to the populace of the Northshield. Not forgetting that their reign was a prosperous, wonderful time full of exciting events and pageantry. I like writing music for people like this!

At the Winter Arts and Sciences Warmup in Stromfels a few months into their reign, Gaylen asked me to write a song in honor of Kelinda. Because one doesn't say no to the Prince, I agreed, totally bewildered as to what I wanted to say about her. After a month or so of wondering what to write, I finally cornered Gaylen at his online hangout, the SCA IRC channel (fun place to hang out, if you like to meet people from all over the Knowne World) and asked for more background about Kelinda.

"Well...she's into Norse culture...she likes the ideals of chivalry and honor...she loves the arts...she does a lot of service..." He reeled off a list of her qualities, and I watched the rather abstract words scroll up the screen. Yeah, but how do you make a song about service? Without knowing the person well at all, and without loading it with pelican jokes? "Um...I don't know if I have enough to go on," I said, despairing.

"Hmmm, okay...she REALLY likes Eleanor of Acquitaine," suggested Gaylen.

Now THAT was something I could use. A historical personage to tie into Kelinda's interests and qualities. I have read bunches about Eleanor, but I decided to see what was on the Internet about her, and stumbled on this passage:

"Her lifelong patronage of the troubadour music of her home region directly resulted in the introduction of this oldest known genre of medieval secular music throughout France, and to a lesser extent, the Norman court of England. In addition, she indirectly influenced the formation of the next influentional [sic] secular genre, the music of the trouveres." -- from
Knowing Kelinda's love of music and the arts--most notably, her patronage of the Bard of the Northshield, and her commissioning of the new Northshield Players--this was a no-brainer from then on. The chorus popped into my head and the rest fell into place that night.

After I performed this at the Tournament of Chivalry in Jaravellir, a friendly lady named Alissende came up to me after Court and offered to work on a harp accompaniment for the song, so I sent her a MIDI of the tune. I recently heard what she had written at Coronet and was WOWED. It transforms the song and restrains me from giving it too much 'lung', which is something bards who sing at feasts can sometimes do out of habit. It sounds wonderful and I hope we can perform it, and maybe more music, together in the future.

For those who have never studied French, the French phrase in the chorus translates to "The New Eleanor" (referring, of course, to Kelinda). In my French classes in high school we heard much of "Alienor D'Acquitaine", roughly pronounced "ah-lee-eh-nor dock-ee-ten"; I didn't even know she had an English name until seeing The Lion in Winter (one of the best medieval movies ever made, BTW) when I was college. "La Nouvelle Alienor" is pronounced "la noo-vel ah-lee-eh-nor", and if the crowd at the bardic post-revel after Northshield Spring Coronet 2000 is any indication, even non-French-speakers can pick up the chorus.

Now you have no excuse. ;)

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Last modified: 06/26/00