Anonymous, French

L'homme armé, chanson

    Description by Robert Cummings

    L'homme armé (The Armed Man) was widely known in late-Medieval times in France, and its popularity continued on into the Renaissance and post-Renaissance eras, its melody appearing in many songs and employed as a cantus firmus for numerous mass settings, including ones by Josquin Desprez, Ockeghem, Dufay, and others. That its theme could serve so effectively in both popular and sacred realms attests to its chameleonic potential. Renditions faithful to the spirit of the song as it was sung in the fifteenth century are quite rhythmic and primal in character, sounding like spirited chant or early vocal music under the spell of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, but lacking instrumental accompaniment. Where the melody is used in various mass settings, however, its rhythmic drive is generally reined in, its color and vigor curtailed, but its thematic character yields greater depth and expressive range. The very brief and rather shallow text of L'homme armé warns that the "armed man is to be feared." Aficionados of early traditional music will find this song of great interest.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Coviello Classics COV 91602
    2013 Musique en Wallonie MEW 1265
    2011 Christophorus CHR 77348
    2011 W.W. Norton
    2009 Arthaus / ArtHaus Musik 104028
    2009 Priory Records 870
    2007 MSR Classics 1158
    2007 Coviello Classics 20701
    2006 Querstand 9609
    2006 Gimell 206
    2005 Nonesuch
    2004 Enchiriadis 2005
    2003 Naxos 8 555772
    2001 Gimell 19
    2000 Astree 9938
    2000 Signum Classics / Signum UK 019
    2000 EPM 983192
    1999 Arion 68052
    1999 Zah Zah 9813
    1999 Equilibrium 8
    1998 Vanguard 96
    1998 Naxos 553428
    1998 Naxos 554297
    1995 Naxos 553087
    1995 Saydisc 364
    1992 Nonesuch 79039
    1989 Gimell 454 919-2PH
    1986 Saydisc 364
    1982 Elektra 79039-2
    Naxos 8 558057
    Evosound 74
    Herald Records 236
    Norton 7609