History, Facts and interesting information about Medieval music, specifically, the Musicians
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 Woodwind 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.
Medieval Musicians - Musical Instruments
The Medieval musicians had a choice of playing a vast number of musical instruments including string, woodwind and percussion. Refer to the Medieval Music index for facts and information about all of the Medieval musical instruments. The following image illustrates musicians playing a variety of Medieval musical instruments. The image is from the sculptured head of column, a bas relief, found in the ruins of the abbey of St. George, at Boscherville, in Normandy. It dates back to the 11th century and is now preserved in the museum of Rouen.
Medieval Musicians playing musical instruments of the Middle Ages
(1) Three-stringed viol or rebec
(2) Two persons playing the organistrum, a stringed instrument vibrated by means of a circular bow or wheel, like the hurdy-gurdy
(3) Pandean pipes
(4) A small harp
(9) & (10) Instruments of percussion, notably bells
Medieval Musicians - Musical Instruments
It is always helpful to read first hand views and comments taken from historical literature. The English Medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the following about the musicians and musical instruments of the era:
Then I saw standing behind them, far away and all by themselves, many scores of thousands, who made loud minstrelsy with bagpipes and shawms and many other kinds of pipes, and skillfully played both them of clear and them of reedy sound, such as be played at feasts with the roast-meat,--and many a flute and lilting-horn and pipes make of green stalks, such as these little shepherd-lads have who watch over beasts in the broom.1
-- House of Fame by Geoffrey Chaucer
Medieval Music - Musicians
The Medieval Times website provides interesting facts, history and information about the musicians and styles of music which scatter the history books including the Musicians. The Medieval Life and Times Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts about the fascinating subject of the lives of the people who lived during the historical period of the Middle Ages. The content of this article on Musicians provides free educational details, facts and information for reference and research for schools, colleges and homework for history courses and history coursework.