When you go to a modern day, medieval themed banquet, one of the most important things for the venue to get right – apart from the medieval food itself – is the music. Medieval music has a style all its own and, when played well, can create a wonderful atmosphere, providing the perfect compliment to the occasion.
At a typical modern day celebration there will be a group of musicians dressed in medieval costume. They will play a wide range of music drawn from the whole of the period – ie. 12th to 15th centuries. The early music in their repertoire will be relatively simple in arrangement perhaps with the human voice as its main focus with just a light accompaniment. However, by the time they perform later medieval compositions (bordering on the Renaissance era) the music will be more robust with more instruments being played. The pace and style of the songs will vary too – from slow, courtly love songs to fast, robust dance pieces.
In terms of instruments the minstrels play, you cannot expect to see many authentic instruments themselves at such an occasion. Let’s face it, they would be between 600 and 900 years old! However, the fiddle, flute, trumpet, recorder, harp, tambourine and drum will more than likely figure in the line-up and these have changed little over the centuries. Add in a crumhorn or two and perhaps even some bagpipes and the atmosphere of a medieval English court or Baron’s Great Hall is readily created. Note: If you follow the crumhorn link you are offered the option to listen to a recording of a crumhorn being played.
There is a lot of intruiging history behind the development of medieval banquet music and if you click here you can read about the impact that the Norman Conquest had upon on the music of medieval England and France.