Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Wandering Minstrel: Rapper of the Middle Ages
They had no chains, no contracts either, but their passions were the same; spreading the joy of song and telling tales that would have otherwise been forgotten. The wandering minstrel of the middle ages lived a simple life, moving from town to town and earning their meals and coins from those whose lives they brightened with song. Much like the modern day gangster rapper, they often added racy ballads of sexual exploits to spicen up their catalogue of songs. Tales of battles fought and won, love gained and lost, and the politics of the day predominated the subject matter of their music, but it was not entirely uncommon to make jokes or include silly limericks as well. Rapping today is very similar in that it involves simple rhymes sung over a rhythmic background of drums or rattles. Minstrels also used drums and rattles, though their instruments of choice tended towards the mandolin or flute. Rappers today do not play instruments and instead focus on making clever rhymes between words that actually do not rhyme. By mispronouncing words the modern day rapper is able to create a massive arsenal of lyrics that would not normally come into play. Minstrels were either not so intelligent or were held within the boundaries of law when it came to the use of their lyrics and therefore were curbed in their creativity. Few of the popular songs of the minstrels survived to today, though a handful, such as 'Juliette Had Buboes,' 'Two Holes For Father Lockett' and 'The Doctor Bled Me Last Fortnight,' are still sung at Renaissance festivals around the globe. Hopefully, with the advent of the compact disc and the 'record deal,' the profound and moving music of rappers will be available for the enjoyment of generations to come.