Definition and background:
A song form of the trouv'res in use from the 12th to the 15th centuries. In its earliest form the lai lacked definite structure, but as it developed it adopted a twelve stanza form. The principal exponent of the lai in the 14th century was Guillaume de Machaut. The German Minnesingers adopted the lai in the 14th century, using the name Leich, and developing a more rigid and regular structure. a secular song of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries in which the characteristics of the stanza (line lengths, number of lines per stanza, rhyme scheme, musical setting) change from strophe to strophe. Machaut wrote twenty-four lais.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary