The French territory can be divided into several linguistic areas: Gaelic,
South German, Basque, Italian, Catalan,
French, and Occitan. What makes the Occitan language distinct is its
closeness with other southern Latin languages and the fact that it has never
been an official language. It has been a written idiom for more than 10
centuries, famous for its medieval aristocratic poetry; its most veritable
writers and composers were called trobars
(troubadours). Occitan became the language of European poets during the 12th
and 13th centuries, and rich noblemen and kings, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine’s
grandfather, Guilhem, or Richard the Lionheart, wrote and composed Occitan
Two of this poetry’s most interesting details are the links and interactions it
has developed with popular poetry, and the inventive oral Occitan tradition.
Popular Occitan singing still carries testimonies of both of these elitist and
popular aspects, and often inspires writers and poets by its very bright and
humorous content, even when it tells about dramatic situations. Marseille—the
largest southern French city—concentrates a lot of these popular Occitan characteristics. The city has a very Mediterranean
aspect in its music, influenced by immigrants—the most recent being from
North Africa and Italy—who have populated the area for 26 centuries.
Lo Còr de la Plana presents an anthology of traditional, but also original
songs that may give the listener an overall view on how the Occitan spirit
never fails to celebrate the vital energies of life—especially when pointed
close to its death—as the current French state likes to describe its culture.