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Spiritual parodies and spirituality in parodies
Céline Scheen, soprano

Catherine Daron, traverso
Gail-Ann Schroeder, viola da gamba
Eriko Semba, viola da gamba
Ricardo Rodriguez Miranda, viola da gamba
Dimitri Dumon, percussion
Jean-Luc Impe, archilute & direction

Spiritual parodies and spirituality in parodies

Under the impulse of the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church decided to appropriate the most popular among the secular songs of the time and to set them to new lyrics, thus creating so-called “spiritual parodies” that would be more conducive to meditation and more effective for home praying. In parallel emerged a naughty or even licentious literature revelling in stigmatizing the French clergy’s shortcomings, while mocking gently the lascivious aspirations of certain religious congregations.

Spiritual parodies…
The spiritual parodies that blossomed in France at the dawn of the Grand Siècle share various features with the vaudeville : not only are the lyrics plastered on known melodies, but but both genres favour wider dissemination much rather than creativity itself. More than a simple question of inventiveness, the goal was to rely on the best musical attributes to express and to spread the “truth” or “new ideas”, depending on whether religious or vernacular concerns were at stake.
The practice to parody either older works or more recent ones, spiritual or secular compositions, theatre as well as any other artistic form, gathers within the same approach the casuists of the Counter-Reformation, political pamphleteers or dramatists. It dwelled upon wordly songs to elevate our souls or keyed on short and unpretentious, yet outstandingly strong, fredons to rallye the nobility or any religious or layman ruler.

… and spirituality in parodies!
If the vaudeville, in the mind of many, boils down to lyrics, others tend to expand that notion to the supporting melody or to add notions of versification or prosodic and lexical limitations to the lyrics/score tandem. More than a mere problem in defining the vaudeville, we believe that the emergence of tensions derived from the confrontation of two powerful systems remains a determining factor. The combination of a poetic structure with its musical scope creates a confrontational dialectic inside which music may achieve such a level of autonomy that it may bear other meanings than the strict lyrics it supports. It also proves capable of recalling various fields of meaning or impression that may be closely associated at times with extraliterary entities − we shall call the “context” − in the reactivation of referents that have no actual link with the added lyrics .
Consequently, the use of vaudevilles relies on a complex alchemy combining the pleasure of recognizing a known tune and the effect of surprise when listening to new lyrics or to a specific song whose original lyrics are not consistent with the dramatic, political, historical or social situation being parodied. Such continuous recycling of tunes appears as the constituent principle of a genre, which draws its creative force from a subtle balance between the quest for novelty and the need to refer to a set of clichés.

La Libre Belgique
François Jongen
 Parodies spirituelles et spiritualités en parodies, Céline Scheen, Jean-Luc Impe
A l’occasion de son vingtième anniversaire, Les Menus-Plaisirs du Roy publie ce délicieux CD de parodies réciproques. D’un côté, des airs en vogue repris par l’Eglise catholique qui y greffe des paroles plus pieuses; de l’autre, des vaudevilles raillant les pratiques, officielles ou officieuses, dudit clergé. On y croise un abbé un peu leste, une nonnette s’ébahissant de la longueur de l’instrument d’un curieux musicien, ou une autre se grattant tant et si bien d’une puce logée dans son intimité qu’elle finit par la noyer. Musique agréable bien rendue par l’ensemble bruxellois, et surtout superbement chantée par Céline Scheen qui y met ce qu’il faut de candide innocence. 

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