Monday, 5 September 2016

Movement of Music

Daily Draw: Ship of Fools Tarot, Ten of Cups

Prior to the development of systems of notation, music travelled slowly in the middle ages. Songs and instrumentals had to be learned 'by ear', from one person who knew a song to another person. This limited the geographical spread of music and explains why the role of troubadour was synonymous with traveller. 

Troubadours were often clergy educated inventors of poetry and song. While the troubadours enjoyed a certain status their assistants, the illiterate and itinerant jongleurs were deemed to be untrustworthy vagabonds. Their repertoire included various acts including, acrobatics, conjuring, dancing and juggling. 

The clergy were eventually to associate the jongleurs with such dubious 'professions' as prostitution. Henceforth they were subject to certain theologically instituted legal restrictions including refusal of the eucharist on account of putting their bodies to unlawful use. 

Later in the medieval period the foundations of notational and theoretical practices were laid enabling composers and musicians to set out their songs on paper. This made it possible for songs to reach a wider audience. Music could now travel on paper rather than in person. 


  1. Your post reminds me of how the Church kept the members in line using their illiteracy; they had to depend on the priest to teach them "the Word."

  2. Which makes me think who were the real conjurer? In a Latin mass the priest could be saying all kinds of things and no one would be the wiser. The solemnity of the sacrament and fear of sounding stupid would be enough to stop people asking questions.

    1. Exactly! The printing press made learning to read (music or books) accessible and easier. Boy did that mess up the game plan. :)

  3. When you think of music traveling on paper, it sounds almost like magic.

  4. It does. Your comment prompted me to look up old music scores -quite beautiful.