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Medieval life and Times

Medieval Musicians History

The period of the Middle Ages saw a huge growth in the number of Medieval Musicians who were employed both in the great courts of the era and also in the towns throughout the lands. The Medieval Musicians included Troubadours, Minstrels, Trouveres, Jongleurs and the Waits.

There were a huge number of musical instruments available during this era and the tastes, culture and societies in the realms of the people of Europe were becoming less warlike and more refined. The times also saw society changing due to the influence from various foreign cultures. Travel experiences of the Medieval men and women, prompted by the Crusades, led to a new and unprecedented interest in beautiful objects, elegant manners, poetry and music. It was acceptable for both men and women to become skilled as musicians. The ideals of courtly love were introduced and embellished by the Troubadours, Trouveres and Minstrels further influencing the Medieval musicians.

Medieval Musicians - The Troubadours
The Medieval musicians called the Troubadours were originally travelling musicians. The early Medieval Troubadours travelled from one village to the next and many also travelled abroad. The role of the Medieval Troubadours changed to part of an elite society of royalty and nobles. The themes of the songs sung by the Medieval Troubadours mainly dealt with Chivalry and Courtly love - romantic ballads.

Medieval Musicians - The Trouveres
The Medieval musicians called the Trouveres were troubadours of nobler birth, and perhaps of finer imagination. A school of poets who flourished in Northern France and Europe from the 11th to the 14th century. Their numbers included kings and nobles.

Medieval Musicians - The Minstrels
The Medieval musicians called the Minstrels were one of an order of men who earned a living by the arts of poetry and music, and sang verses to the accompaniment of a harp or other instrument. Minstrels often created their own ballads but they were also famous for memorising long poems based on myths and legends which were called 'chansons de geste'.

Medieval Musicians - The Jongleurs
The Medieval musicians called the Jongleurs were often the assistants of the Troubadours or Minstrels. Jongleurs gained a reputation of itinerant entertainers of Medieval France and in Norman England where many were deemed to be vagabonds and untrustworthy. Their repertoire included various skills in dancing, conjuring, acrobatics, and juggling.

Medieval Musicians - The Minnesingers
In Germany, the troubadours became Minnesingers, or singers of love songs, and as early as the middle of the 12th century the minnesingers counted among their number many great nobles and kings. The German minnesingers differed from the French troubadours in that they accompanied their songs on the viol, instead of employing Jongleurs.

Medieval Musicians - The Waits
The Medieval musicians called the Waits were originally employed as watchmen who alerted people to danger by playing loud instruments. The role of the Waits gradually evolved into groups of musicians employed by the towns. The Waits therefore became official musicians employed in the large English towns, who were equivalent to the town band. The Waits were expected to compose and play music for important town and civic ceremonies and occasions.

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