Trobairises (singular trobairitz) were female troubadours, primarily of southern France where the Occitan language was/is spoken, of the 12th and 13th centuries. They are the first recorded female composers of secular music. The names of about 20 trobairises are known, and around 32 works have been attributed to them. These consist of only lyrics. There is only one for which we also have the musical notation, A chantar m’er by the Comtessa Beatriz de Diá.1
Here is an image of the manuscript
The earliest work attributed to a trobairitz, a woman named Tibors de Sarenom, is Bels dous amics, for which only the words survive. This song dates from around 1150.2
The name of only one female composer of this period from northern France is known (in northern France, a troubadour was known as a trouvère; there is no female counterpart to this term). Marie de France was active in the period 1160-1215, and it is believed she did her writing in England.3 Texts of her poetry, the Lais of Marie de France, may be found in an English manuscript of the 13th century (coincidentally, this same manuscript also contains the song Sumer Is Icumen In, long held as the oldest secular song in English).
[Postscript: I thought the absence of female trouvères was odd, so I dug a little deeper. I turned up a book, Songs of the Women Trouvères, which documents eight named female trouvères, and a wealth of songs and motets that may have been written by women.]
- Bruckner, Matilda, Shepard, Laurie, and White, Sarah, Songs of the Women Troubadours. Routledge, 2000. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0815335687/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0815335687&linkCode=as2&tag=medievalistsn-20&linkId=VQVFQAAVBQ6O5IVH
Image attribution: Image of Comtessa Beatriz de Dia, [public domain] Bibliothèque Nationale, MS cod. Fr. 12473, via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=342295. Image of A chantar m’er, [Public domain] Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, fr. 844 via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_chantar_pg._1.jpg and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_chantar_pg._2.jpg