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Call and Response Rhythms in Dialogue Poetry & Nichols/May

What is immediately noticeable in both the alba form (which we could broadly consider a dialogue between man and nature, a protective warding spoken from the noble knight to the sun that threatens to rise), and in dialogue poetry such as Marcabru's pastourelas is that there is a clear rhythm of call and response, a linguistic interplay that lets each side of the dialogue express there opinions in an almost melodic rhythm. Evidently, this is helped by the music and melody germane to troubadour lyrics, especially given the immensely replicable nature of their musical parts, which leads to contrafactum. In fact, Falck's affirmation that "when a melody or composition is reused, altered or unaltered, the result is a parody or contrafactum", could be argued to be applicable across many dialogue songs due to the very similar rhyme and meter schemes. However, that endessly replicable pattern and interlinking duopoly of voices is something that we can also see in one of my passions, sketch comedy. That's why we're going back in the archives to look at some forefathers of the American comedic scene in Mike Nichols and Elaine May. Their phone call banter, which made up part of an incredibly popular routine in the 60s, perfectly plays off the dynamic we see in medieval dialgoue songs. As the sketch passes, the pace and the intensity quicken as each individual voice engages in this sort of frantic call and response with the other. When Marcabru's noble knight states "e no vos cal dezesperar/you have no reason to despair now", it is not difficult to see traces of Nichols begging May (playing his mother) not to worry about him. The same sense of pleading is there, the same insistent use of voice. Forms like the alba and pastourela are reliant on this sort of dynamic interplay - the tension comes from the divergently expressed conversation rather than from one continuous monologue. A dialogue song has a mode of address (see "per vos mi creys ma grans dolors/ because of You my grief increases) that simply cannot exists in a monological canso. It is the mode of call and response. 

Songs of Love and War: Gender, Crusade, Politics (Sp16-FEMGEN-205-01/FRENCH-205-01)
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