The medieval ages had given immense importance to music and other art forms as well. Aesthetics was really important for the courtly people and hence, under the patronage of kings and feudal lords, musicians used to gain much importance. Their songs were sung in the court and under that firmament many lyrics were composed as well. We all are quite acquainted with the terms, troubadour and minstrel that we have read upon the pages of history.
Yes, troubadours and minstrels were different kinds of musicians and now to boil down to the factity of fact here, we are going to talk about Minstrels specifically.
The post of a Minstrel:
A Minstrel was appointed as a court musician, and they used to compose songs, smaller lyrical ballads, poems,
- Far lands
- Kings , their valour , their gallantry
- Victory in wars
And so on and so forth…
Irony had to hit the fates of these minstrels as they were soon replaced by the troubadours in the court just for testing. This experiment compelled them to move from the courts and wander about here and there. Hence, they soon came to be known as the ‘wandering Minstrels’.
Semiotic meaning of Minstrel:
The Minstrel used to mean little servant. The Minstrels were appointed by the court and for the court. Their aesthetics were not independent and their songs, rhythms, composition used to serve the courtly ambience only.
More about the role of a Minstrel:
In terms of aesthetics and musical expertise a Minstrel was considered inferior to a troubadour. And to be qualified as a Minstrel, they had to know other arts; other skills had to be possessed such as;
- Fire eating
- Playing musical instruments
- Reciting poems
- Training animals like dogs and monkeys
And so on and so forth…
- A jongleur used to assist a Minstrel and others like gleemen used to work as entertainers too.
After the Minstrels got replaced:
After the Minstrels got replaced by the trendy troubadours, they became wanderers and hence, they took part in fairs and medieval festivals for their occupation. The wandering Minstrels used to carry light instruments with them while they used to move from place to place. The Minstrels used to have flutes, recorders, percussions and much other stuff with them. They used to play music for religious festivals and gatherings too. The wandering Minstrels were often called for playing music at the church.
The Minstrels used to put on bright coloured heavy clothes and were mainly called ‘merry men ‘owing to their purpose of entertaining the hoi polloi. They used to take part in festivities and make people happy. Out of the court too they were quite famous. While they were serving as court musicians the Minstrels used to compose courtly poems and love songs which are still quite popular.