Minstrels Through The Ages

Minstrels and troubadours were travelling musicians of the medieval age. Their songs and ballads reflected themes of love and chivalry. The performance was usually a single voice with a single instrument like the harp or lute. Later other instruments were heard accompanying the voice such as stringed instruments like the flute, fiddle and percussion instruments like the drums, bells, tambourine and cymbals. Here’s a modern performance of how the music of the minstrels and troubadours might have sounded.

The Bhakthi saints who made their appearance around the 7th century in India spread their message through music. Their songs were spiritual in nature and spoke of their intense devotion to God. The simple lyrics of their songs resonated with the common folks. The use of local languages or vernaculars made this a pan-India phenomena. The music of the Bhakthi saints ranged from the thevarams, thiruppavai in Tamil to the vachanas in Kannada and bhajans of Tulasidas and Mirabai in Hindi. In historical texts, the saints are sometimes depicted carrying the one-stringed instrument ektara. Later other instruments such as the tanpura, pakhwaj, dhol became part of the bhakthi music repertoire.

Here is a popular bhajan of Meerabai sung by Hindustani vocalist D.V.Paluskar

About Chitra Srikrishna 49 Articles
Chitra Srikrishna is a Carnatic vocalist and writer living in Bengaluru. She's the musical half of a multimedia performance duo HumRaag. She also produces and hosts RaagTime, a radio show on Indian music. She blogs at chitrasrikrishna.com.

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