Definition and background:
A Medieval and Renaissance form of French poetry and song, written in an ABBA form with a courtly text. The origin of the word " virelai " is the Old French word "Virer ", meaning "to turn" or "to twist", indicating that the song form originated from a dance form. one of the French formes fixe, cultivated in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A strophic piece with an internal structure of A b b a A, where a capital letter designates a repetition of both text and music and lower case designates new text. The virelai typically had three stanzas; its refrain could easily lead into the new text of successive stanzas or serve to conclude the piece.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary