Charivari Explored


In December, a group of KCL Music, French, and History students performed a series of medieval and contemporary explorations of the pre-modern shaming ritual, charivari. Charivari Explored took as its source text the extraordinary manuscript Le Roman de Fauvel, produced in Paris around 1317, which includes a description and musical notation of the songs sung by the charivari on the marriage of the horse-headed anti-hero Fauvel to Vain Glory.

Charivari often arose as protest against remarriage or marriages with a perceived age gap; usually involving the young men of a community, they would often feature masks, donkeys, and excessive noise, made by the clattering of kitchen implements, discordant instruments, shouts, cries, and improvised percussion. The procession would wind up outside the house of the newlyweds and would call them out into the street; sometimes – but not always – the charivari could be paid off with money or drink.

Charivari Explored included performances of the songs in the manuscript and two contemporary pieces inspired by the research the group had done: a contemporary motet by Callum Hüseyin, inspired by the spliced motifs in Fauvel, and Matthew O’Keeffe’s mash-up of modern and classical refrains of love, marriage, and divorce, after the nonsense soundscapes of the fatras in the manuscript.

The whole thing should soon be available online.