We, as a group, decided on the name ‘The Troubadours’ because we thought it would be one which would mean something to people today and with which we could continue to ‘spread the news’ and appreciation of Mediæval music. We have not, however, kept strictly to the music that the original troubadours would have played but have spread our repertoire over the whole of the mediæval period and into the 16th century to give a wide variety of styles for the modern listener. In so doing we have included in our repertoire songs and dances from any of the different types of musicians of the middle ages. Without going into the minutiae of the musical forms, we thought it of interest to include a very simple outline of the generally accepted differences between the various groups of entertainers.
The Troubadours were poet-musicians in southern France, in Occitania, and were first recorded in about 1100. They composed in the Provencal language – langue d’oc – and were often aristocrats although some of humbler birth did acquire the patronage of the nobility and practiced at their courts. There were also a number of female troubadours, or Trobaritz, notably Countess Béatrice de Die whose one surviving song is held in high esteem. They wrote about and upheld chivalrous love in their poems. The music was monophonic and sophisticated with free rhythmic schemes. AlphonsoX of Castile and Leon (brother-in-law to Edward 1) gathered the famous anonymous collection of songs – ‘Cantigas de Santa Maria’. He was a great patron of the troubadours and may well have composed himself.
Trouverès lived in northern France from the mid 12th century and wrote in the langue d’oil. They were similar to the Troubadours in that they were often aristocratic and were also poet-musicians. They developed their music from that of the troubadours who were invited to the courts of such patrons as Eleanor of Aquitaine (wife of Henry 11). Their music was monophonic but more formally structured often with easily remembered tunes and including refrains.
The idea spread to Germany where they were known as Minnesingers – a name derived from the word ‘minne’ which means courtly love. They wrote between the 12th and 14th centuries and their poetry was sometimes narrative and often devotional. They revered women rather than expressing the passion shown in the French poetry.
The term Minstrel seems to have been applied to wandering musicians employed – often casually – by feudal households or towns. This is how the bands of Town Waytes developed in the Renaissance and beyond.
Jongeurs were more all-round entertainers, being skilled in acrobatics, juggling and the use of performing animals as well as singing and playing. They were often the ones who would recount the ‘chansons de geste’ to music – the deeds of daring-do and legends from the past. Their name comes from the Latin ‘joculator’ which means jester and from which we get our word ‘juggler’. They were not held in high esteem and the Church frowned on them. They would work anywhere – high or low, inside or out. The English Gleemen later developed from these entertainers.
Valerie Marshall, Lee Gillett, John Mallett
Arranged by David Marshall
Directed by Valeria Marshall
Produced and Engineered by John Mercer
ARTWORK – Alison Merry
CD Design and Layout – Leigh James
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