Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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contes, fabliaux, chansons and lais; and those who confined themselves to the composition of contes and fabliaux obtained the appellation of contours, conteours, or fabliers. The Menetrier, Menestrel, or Minstrel, was he who accompanied his song by a musical instrument, both the words and the melody being occasionally fur­nished by himself, and occasionally by others."
Le Grand says: " This profession which misery, libertinism, and the vagabond life of this sort of people, have much decried, required, however, a multiplicity of attainments, and of talents, which one would, at this day," have some difficulty to find reunited, and we have more reason to be astonished at them in those days of ignorance; for besides all the songs, old and new,—besides the current anec­dotes, the tales and fabliaux, which they piqued themselves on knowing,—besides the romances of the time which it behoved them to know and to possess in part, they could declaim, sing, compose music, play on several instruments, and accompany them. Frequently even- were they authors, and made themselves the pieces they uttered."—Ritson,s Dissertation, p. clxiii.
The spirit of chivalry which pervades the early metrical romances could not have been imparted to this country by the Romans. As Warton observes, " There is no peculiarity which more strongly discriminates the manners of the Greeks and Romans from those of modern times, than that small degree of atten­tion and respect with which those nations treated the fair sex, and the incon­siderable share which they were permitted to take in conversation, and the general commerce of life. For the truth of this observation, we need only appeal to the classic writings : from which it appears that their women were devoted to a state of seclusion and obscurity. One is surprised that barbarians should be greater masters of complaisance than the most polished people that ever existed. No sooner was the Roman empire overthrown, and the Goths had overpowered Europe, than we find the female character assuming an unusual importance and authority, and distinguished with new privileges, in all the European govern­ments established by the northern conquerors. Even amidst the confusions of savage war, and among the almost incredible enormities committed by the Goths at their invasion of the empire, they forbore to offer any violence to the women."
That the people of England have in all ages delighted in secular or social music, can he proved by numerous testimonies. The Scalds and Minstrels were held in great repute for many ages, and it is but fair to infer that the reverence shown to them arose from the love and esteem in which their art was held. The Romans, on their first invasion of this island, found three orders of priesthood established here from a period long anterior. The first and most influential were the Druids; the second the Bards, whose business it was to celebrate the praises of their heroes in verses and songs, which they sang to their harps; and the third were the Eubates, or those who applied themselves to the study of philosophy.
The Northern annals abound with pompous accounts of the honors conferred on music by princes who were themselves proficients in the art; for music had become a regal accomplishment, as we find by all the ancient metrical romances and heroic narrations,—and to sing to the harp was the necessary accomplishment

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III