genre of 13th-century Spanish monophonic, or unison, song, often honouring the Virgin Mary. The most famous collection is a manuscript, the Cantigas de Santa Maria, compiled by King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile and Leon in the second half of the century and preserved in three manuscript copies at the library of El Escorial, northwest of Madrid, the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, and the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence. The collection contains the words and music of more than 400 songs in the Galician language, celebrating the miracles of the Virgin. Most of the songs are in virelai (q.v.) form (found in medieval French poetry and music) and show an affinity with the songs of the contemporary troubadours (poet-musicians of Provence).
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