www.townwaits.org.uk / History Index / France

French Waites

Thanks to Alan Radford for spotting these references -

Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities and Towns, edited by Fiona Kisby - Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 5 by G. Peters on civic musicians in southern France.


Five liveried civic musicians from mid-14th century

Five liveried civic musicians from mid-14th century. Starting with the 1357/8 civic account book, regular payments were recorded to "our five minstrels" to accompany the city council in fifteen processions. The 1370/1 accounts record payment to "five minstrels" for twenty-six processions, and in 1371-2 for thirty-one processions. A city statute in 1375 has the minstrels in official city livery embroidered with the coat of arms when accomanying the council in procession or other official activities. In 1357 payment is made for new banners for two trumpets and two "cornamusa". In addition to the two "cornamusayre" and two "trompayre", the ensemble also included a "nacharayre". In 1372 for the arrival of the Queen of Navarre, the civic minstrels wore red livery. In the early fifteenth century the ensemble was reduced to two or three, but from 1431 for the rest of the century it stabilised at four. In 1429 two civic minstrels sold a bombarde with a key and a shawm made in Bruges. In 1469 a relative of one of the civic minstrels sold three shawms in a case, a bombard and two "charaminas". In the late 15th century the city made frequent payments to the loud minstrels ("los autz menestries") who played their shawms ("calamillas"). In 1403 a slide trumpeter from Tournai was recruited to the civic wind band. Apart from the regular civic processions at Christmas, Pentecost etc., for visiting dignitaries, special occasions etc., the civic minstrels also played in services in church. Payments in the 14th century were for particular services rendered, but in the 15th century they had contracts and annual salaries (7 li.). Membership was stable, as in the mid-15th century three of the four members served for at least twenty years.


1330-1500, civic trumpeters and shawm-players

In 1330 regular payments made to two "trompayres" who were provided with "las trompas del argent". Public announcements were made by a separate "cornayre" with a simple horn. By 1383 there was also a civic wind ensemble called "menestries", provided with livery and annual salary paid on December 13th. These fulfilled both civic and religious roles. In 1439 the five minstrels were paid for performing in Mass, both "trompetas" and " haut menestries". Annual salary was 6 li 10 s in the late 14th century, falling to 4 li in the late 15th. Their livery cost twice as much as their annual salary and their pennons just as much. Civic minstrels held these appointments for up to thirty years, and the office ran in families.


Civic wind band from mid-15th century

The civic wind band first appears in the mid-15th century, with regular payments thereafter. They included a pair of trumpeters, and three or four wind musicians on shawms ("chalamelis") and pipes and tabors ("fistulis et taborinis"). Loud and soft ensembles were used, the latter including harp, lute, rebec and bells, portative organ and pipe and tabor. "Gaychatores" played trumpet and cornemuse from the Papal tower.

Civic Musicians in French Cities up to 1500

Extracted from "The Musical Sounds of Medieval French Cities" by Gretchen Peters, Cambridge University Press (2012), in which more detail is to be found.


1443     Jo Crestan, city trumpeter, 36fl/year, to play at festivals

1444-    Monnetus Monneri, city trumpeter, sounded watch twice a day, tower music

1450     Monnetus took Anthonius Gill as apprentice trumpeter


Mid-C14, official waits/minstrels playing from belfry, also served to make the watch and announce fires from the belfry

1387-1410     Ascension Day celebrations, Jehan wait of the belfry on cornett, plus two trumpeters

1402     purchase of trumpet for the wait to play from the belfry

1407     wait(s) provided with chain and badge with city coat of arms

1461     Minstrels' guild – loud and soft instruments. Outside musicians had to pay a fee per performance to the guild.

1462     Jehan Boutard dismissed

1462-1477     ..and the Aldermen gave the watch of the belfry to Jehan Mevel, menestrel, who plays well on the said pipe (shawm replacing the earlier trumpet).

1460s     Wait annually provided with a coat

1387-1500     twenty-seven named civic musicians


1243-     watchmen in the bell tower to sound the horn twice a day

C14     tower musician employed

1379     city trumpeter, in new livery, for arrival of the Pope

1390     for departure of the Kings of Sicily and Navarre, reed and trumpet musicians were hired in by the city

C15     city council stipend for a trumpeter and a minstrel on the bell tower

1450-1463     civic minstrel played cornemuse

1473-1481     civic minstrel played pipe and tabor

1449-1500     six named watch musicians


1406-1422     Very few civic records survive, but there is evidence of two civic trumpeters who received regular wages and livery, and played on the council’s silver trumpet. Civic minstrels also existed.


28 September 2017: "Jean has been researching the history of Waits in Toulose and has to links for the Waits website." Lizzie Gutteridge.

"The oboe in the Toulousaine tradition: from the consular symbol to the instrument of celebration and dance", Luc CHARLES-DOMINIQUE.

Original paper in French: charlesdominique.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/recherches.pdf. It is also worth looking at this article which seems to be derived from the paper mentioned above www.apemutam.org/IMG/pdf/jetude2011.pdf

Translated using automatic translation technology.

The term "oboe" with its inevitable dialectal derivatives (in Bas-Languedoc, aubòi) only appears late in the vocabulary of instrumental music. In Toulouse, I did not find any mentions before 1503 when a stop fixed the place "haulxboys and other musical instruments" in "general processions" (Tholoze - see Note 1 at the end of this translation). It is true that the introduction of the instrument into music seems recent, clearly posterior to that of the clarinet. Iconography seems to attest to this, as no trace is found in the 12th or 13th centuries but we do see the oboe in iconography in the 15th century, and later. "Oboe" means the term "chalemie" which means a medium-sized, conical and double reed, in one piece, a little identical to the current Catalan tarota. So, in the Kalendrier Grant and compost of the Bergiers with their Astrology (1491), we find, in a "Berger song" attributed to Martial de Paris or Martial d'Auvergne, "Cornez challumelles", even if this book also refers to the oboe ("...clerons, trumpet and haulx boys") where to a pastoral instrumentarium thus evoked: instrumens must have the shepherd, with his flutes, to be baked in melody. It is assavoir fretel, estyve, soaine, musette d'Allemaigne, or other bagpipe which is called chevrette, chascun according to his craft and subtlety. (See note 2) Chalemie designating a widely used instrument at that time in European instrumental music, we then know many linguistic and dialectal variations. Medieval French has created occurrences of derivatives, such as "calemelles" or "canemelles", which are found contextualized in 15th century documents evoking war music or that of political pomp: "There, do we have banners and gables and coats of arms and very large faces? There were muses, calemelles, naguettes, trumpets, and trumpets, which led to great noise and great hustin". Yes, great abundance of menestrandies, trompes, tabours, claronchiaus, muses and canemelles that pleasure was considered and looked at. (See note 3) In the countries Germanic, the chalemie players are the "scalmeyers"; in the Anglo-Saxon countries, the instrument is referred to as "schalmey", while "xeremia" has remained in the Catalan vocabulary of traditional music. In Toulouse, it is the term "chevemyna" which seems then in use in everyday language: in 1500, the music of the City is composed of "sincq trompetas and chevemynas [chalemies]" (See note 4). But I also found a mention of the term "gayta", a designation widely used throughout the Iberian region and absent from the current terminology of Occitan traditional music. This occurrence dates from 1454.

Note 1. Archives Départementales de la Haute-Garonne, B 31, fol. 25.

Note 2. Le grant kalendrier et compost des Bergiers avecq leur Astrologie, (reprint), Paris, Siloé, 1976.

Note 3. Cité dans BOWLES Edmund A., La pratique musicale au Moyen Age, Paris, Minkoff et Lattés, 1983, collection "Iconographie musicale", légende de la planche 63 et p. 131.

Note 4. MESURET Robert, "Les peintres décorateurs de Toulouse aux XVe et XVIe siècles", Mémoires de l’Académie des Sciences et Belles Lettres de Toulouse, 13ème Série, Tome 8, pp. 145-156.

Sociological and political importance of ménétriers during the Ancien régime (before the french revolution): Bands of ménétriers as the birth of profane orchestras in France

back to top history section index

Also discovered by Jean -

Sociological and political importance of ménétriers during the Ancien régime (before the french revolution): Bands of ménétriers as the birth of profane orchestras in France

Original Paper in French: charlesdominique.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/gourdon.pdf

Translated using automatic translation technology.


The particular context of the birth of ménétrière music. I had the opportunity in previous work (1), to date the birth of ménétrière music and provide, in its origin, some explanation. To summarize, I would say that the word minstrel appears in the 13th century, when it seems to be used interchangeably with the word juggler. However, a detailed analysis of contexts, roles and functions of musicians, we already makes a distinction between these two terms: the first would apply rather to the court juggler - already relatively settled in one location - while the second would designate more generally a juggler moving from place to place entertaining many new audiences and multiple employers. From the 14th century Menestrel takes root slowly in the medieval musical terminology, but especially during the following centuries, and the term juggler falls out of use for serious musicians, with "juggler" being relegated to artists at the forefront of beggary. This lexical evolution brings obvious semiotic analysis: in this battle vocabulary lies a very important change of status and function for medieval instrumentalists.

Indeed, at the time of solitary jugglers, wandering, unorganized, the offer came from them, the various courts and casual popular public merely beings seekers. The advent of fiddlers will totally turn this situation because, now, are the medieval powers that will become providers. In a stable situation, an undeniable and relatively permanent professional anchor (which does not exclude the distances of travel undertaken by these new musicians). Lords in search of relaxation who wish to keep with them and sustained the best instrumental entertainment specialists of the time? Not at all! The dimension of entertainment in medieval instrumental music is secondary compared to what it will become in future centuries. This is in fact, for the elites, to offer these new musicians to become sound markers of their rank and political power or spiritual they hold. So how is it that the lords of the Middle Ages had not imagined to be represented in this way? Simply because in the early Middle Ages, feudalism was omnipotent and unique, while at 13th century, and more so in the following century, it generates a number of cons-powers. This social and political upheaval, as Jacques Le Goff has called "great" Renaissance of the 12th century (2) and he considers much deeper than the "other" Renaissance will emerge urban governments, the beginning of a dice-roll bourgeoisie, workers and craft guilds and, quite at the top, a monarchy increasingly conquering and religiously significant, even arguing its new status "divine right" to the Church. Whether the "old powers" (feudalism, church), or new, all will feel the need for a strong symbolic representation, in order to counteract the destabilizing conducted to one or to mark their new identity others. But the "marker" identity unanimously selected will be the one of the music. Now we will see instrumentalists, VOR or not, represent certain social powers or groups very systematically in a number of public and official circumstances and thus act as "sound shields." The word is not too strong and the Spanish musicologist Maria del Carmen Gomez-Muntané does not think so right when, speaking of the minstrels of the Catalan-Aragonese court 1336-1442, it uses the concept of 'heraldic music "(3). Recall that one of the three possible etymologies of "shield" is attached to the Germanic family of blasen Dutch, English to blaze and German blasen which means "breath." Guiraud, the author of this intelligent etymology, seemingly unaware of medieval music history and trying to provide a plausible explanation, put forward the idea that "the shield would be strictly a shield topped with a bump, domed and [that] the word will t blazer related to (blow) "(Alain Rey, Historical Dictionary of the French language, Robert, 1993). Since then, many musicologists of the medieval era have emphasized, apparently rightly, the parallel between this verb blow and Instrumental activities of these Medieval musicians. For as we shall see, in their official and iconic role, these musicians are happy to use aerophones reeds and mouthpieces.

In this new role of social and political markers, the musicians are at the service of their employers, statutory since become an integral part of their personal and symbolically. These servants, Latin ministrelli (plural ministrellus: servant of minister) will be called in French minstrels and minstrels and later fiddlers.

We now understand that a significant differentiation is established between the musical practice e jugglers and fiddlers that, later. Because, if the first is in the field of recreational or dramatic, the second enriched with a ritual dimension. This broad musical ritual of the new medieval sociability, urban as rural, is exclusively entrusted to the fiddlers, more exactly to fiddlers orchestras, as one of the great features of this new instrumental practice is precisely its collective dimension.

The ménétrière music thus has an undeniable political. Linked in design even in setting social and political order of medieval society, and more broadly of the ancien regime, it will be even more vulnerable when the company will be threatened in its foundations in the eighteenth e century. But in the meantime, ritual and symbolic functions ménétrière music carry many real institutionnali tion of instrumental music. I find it extremely odd that one, or almost, has pointed this out. We obviously do not know much about the organization and the musical practice of ancient times (Late Antiquity, Middle Ages) that have not left large written and iconographic traces. We can assume, without much risk, as instrumental collective practices there have been ongoing. But until proven otherwise, we have no trace, for earlier periods at the turn of 13th and 14th centuries, the formalization of the practice. In other words, there is no evidence that it was fixed orchestras, stable, sustainable, organized, developing a practice other occasional.

With the first set of fiddlers, we are in the opposite case, and this perhaps for the first time in France. There is a good chance that we will see there at the birth of the secular F orchestra rancid, with a significant delay in the Muslim countries and Islamized who themselves have developed very early a court music, collective, secular and which one of the results in Europe will be the art of nawba in Spain Muslim Al-Andalus. Two authors, and not the least, had the intuition of this profound change. This is François Lesure (4) and Manfred Bukofzer (5). But both of them have only considered the institutionalization of ménétrière music in the Baroque age, especially through the royal musical institutions. Now if Bukofzer says that "Twenty-Four Violins du Roy" represent "the first permanent orchestra of that time," if Francis Lesure, about this orchestra also and more broadly royal minstrels, speaks of "birth of orchestra in France in the early seventeenth e century "we can not evacuate the evidence that these bands in question are a direct extension of collective musical structures whose existence dates back to the early fourteenth e century. The advent of ménétrière music is in my eyes one of the greatest upsets in the history of the French instrumental music. No doubt the beautiful remark of Andre Schaeffner ( "Perhaps no art [Western art music] is not as inspired, and more seriously, its own caricature") (6) applies-t- it to this very special feature of our musical history. Just as, in another area, one realizes that today the role of the Arab-Andalusian nawba in the history of Western orchestral suite. Like what, musicology, for a long time, too long even, was content to observe (and even when it was willing to take the trouble not to observe that trivialities) and not explain it watching. The ménétrières bands: the instutionnalisation strictly From the 14th century, these body ménétrière music start to bloom everywhere and quickly. First in the stately course. There is not a court that has its own minstrels. The best are in the wealthier classes and are a sound illustration of the richness of the sovereign, his good taste, so its ability to be a great leader. But cities also endow of fiddlers orchestras, or use occasionally to animate their ceremonial. I have already had occasion (7) to draw up a broad inventory of Old Regime cities of France or Flanders, who regularly use this type of orchestras. Among those maintaining permanent orchestras and minstrels and the "municipalisent" include Bayonne, Tournay, Troyes, Bruges, Ghent, Kortrijk, Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven, Montpellier and Toulouse especially where Couble for Oboe d'es enjoys Capitouls such fame in the kingdom that Louis XIV asked for the animation of her marriage to Saint-Jean-de-Luz in 1660 (8). Among those who simply use occasionally local bands ménétrières services, I will cite Carcassonne, Bordeaux, Paris, Narbonne, Cahors, Figeac, Bagnères-de-Bigorre ... Since the publication of my book (The Fiddlers ...) in late 1994 a number of readers sent me exciting material that I did not know. Thus, in Poitiers, the city uses "large amount of hautsbois of Poitou" the day of "the solemnity of the city hall of Poitiers who made the fourteenth day of July [...] These are usually hautsbois Employee Limousin ballads, the walking and Poitou, weddings, fetes and fraternities, and all public rejoicing "(9). No doubt we are dealing here with independent fiddlers. Same thing in Marseille where the municipal magistrates employ fiddlers to rejoice Public Sances taking place the last three days of Carnival. A pastoral letter from 1536 tells us that the city was paying "als very menestriers soes Tamborins and l'Aubois that year toquat the Loya los tres Jors of Carmentran the sum of fifteen guilders and per lo Tamborin, Timbols and Timbalas that year toquat los tres vespers desdit Carmentran the Carriera of laditta Loya summoned the guilders four "(10). The documents are a little fuzzy on Le Mans, Alencon and Bourges. We know that one existed "great band of violins Le Mans and Alencon, who willingly moved from one city to the other to play at the wedding." Furthermore, upon entry in Bourges that made the Prince of Conde June 24, 1616, the city employed "seven musicians of the big band. This is the great band that we see occur in all occasions where music has a role to play. The same series of accounts of the municipality mentioned in 1668 and following years of new violins of the great band, attending every year in the procession of Corpus Christi, with 20 s. by violin, at the expense of the city. In 1673, the nine eleven and became in 1686, the dozen is full "(11). Nothing here indicates whether municipal fiddlers. Maybe we have to deal with prestigious independent fiddlers. By cons, valves, doubt is no longer possible: the city maintains a band of four violins (12). We see that in most cities in terms is traces we have preserved, but certainly all actually consuls employ fiddlers orchestras or regularly making by municipal officers, often at great expense (in Toulouse, municipal fiddlers are paid more than the royal minstrels!) or punctually engaging renowned bands local ménétriers. This consular power is numerically the largest employer fiddlers in their official role. It is the most importamt source for the historian of music ménétrière especially as feudalism declining, a number of courses disappearing, it is primarily in cities that can most accurately follow the musical life of these orchestras, composition, evolution, etc. Ultimately, there is the Royal framework, it takes more and more importance over the centuries and which maintains ménétrière music body. In the House, it is the fiddlers fiddlers, who form the prestigious strip of Twenty-Four Violins du Roy, after 22 in 1609, 23 in 1610 and 24 from 1614 to 1761, the year of disappearance of this orchestra. At the Stables, one of the five orchestras of this body, that of "Violin player, oboe sackbuts and cones," which became the band of the Twelve Great Oboe du Roy, is also primarily comprised of fiddlers. Over the pageantry, the service of Twenty-Four Violins is mainly the busy divertissemen t and dance. As for the body of the Stable, its service is exclusively ceremonial. Here, the institutionalization of course lies in the political will and the same structural organization of the royal music, which gives a certain part in the ménétrière music. It is not uninteresting - but I will not do it again here - to study the evolution of these royal orchestras fiddlers and note the parallels do not appear lacking with their provincial counterparts. Finally, on the sidelines of power, have a much orchestras independent fiddlers that nothing prevents the occasion - we just had an illustration with some cities - to hire the service of large institutional powers of the old regime. True happiness, from the perspective of the historian is that on one hand this musical practice is always collective, whether urban as rural, and secondly these musicians combine setting spatiotemporal their practice. There, grand "control" of these associations is the notary who leaves considerable documentation and even generally unexplored. In this case, I will not speak of institutionalization but rather formalized. So we attended the birth of this instrumental practice at the beginning of 14th century and the formalization and the progressive institutionalization of these bands that become from the beginning of the 16th century, the unique prototype of instrumental training secular functions, festive and ceremonial. I suggest now that the stage is set, to indulge in a genuine ray of these orchestras fiddlers, these "bands" (generic term Old Regime) or "coubles" (Occitan Frenchified term, used notably in Toulouse).

Physiognomy of ménétrières bands:

The duration of these associations:

It should be noted first of all that this parameter is taken into account in the case of independent fiddlers since fiddlers orchestras consular, seigniorial or royal are timeless, permanent and have not known notarial genesis. There is, over the contracts of association, all cases concerning the envisaged lifetime of these orchestras. I have developed this point I would not stay here, but if there are contracts for an exceptionally long life (life association or forty years), most of the contracts do not exceed five years. In many cases, they are even much shorter. We have some in Paris for the duration of a party (Mardi Gras, New Year, etc.) (13). However, in the case of long periods, it is common for bands dissolve before the term of the contract, often due to premature departure of one of their members. This is verified by the many cases of this kind brought to court for breach of contract.


The ménétrière music is synonymous with instrumental specialization. That's what différencie, among others, radically, music and jugglers. The absence of instrumental specialization jugglers and their frequent recourse to the use of singing accompanied or text declaimed musically supported, were originally an instrumental practice very poorly characterized, including as well the harmonic instruments String (lutes, harps ...) as monophonic instruments (instruments with hinged or double reeds, mouthpieces to, flutes, rebecs) which certain such as fiddle, used for accompanying gesture Songs or Lives of the Saints, had a function and an almost religious status. Now, from the appearance of the status of the fiddler XIV e century, from the first literary occurrences of the word at the end of 13th century, from the creation of the first iconic music body consisting mainly of fiddlers, from the first irrefutable mentions ménétrière professional organization based on corporatism, there is a strong characterization instruments ménétrière music characterization that majority at 14th and 15th centuries, will become the exclusive 16th century. The instruments fiddlers did recruit more, as before, in all organological families if you can always find as many as chordophones aerophones (some accompanied membranophones), these instruments are now basically monophonic. The harp, lute and all its derivatives, CITH are, the psaltery, the clavichord, the eschaquier, the virginal spruce, etc., not only associate themselves ever instrumentarium musician from 16th century, but inherently contain a number of fundamentally contradictory criteria with musical aesthetics ménétrière. Through these monophonic instruments, so fiddlers form bands. This association is it the result of musical limits conferred on them organology their instruments or, cont rary, minstrels, servants by definition, and therefore blending into a mass more or less other musicians servants, they opted for the choice of instrumental monody choice musically mitigated by the number and complementarity? It is impossible to answer this question, which can also be considered, as we shall see, in terms of musical symbolism, religious and social. The fiddlers therefore form bands or heterogeneous (violins, flutes, oboes, horns) or homogeneous (oboes and violins alone or only cones). These heterogeneous orchestras have no definite official function, while homogeneous strips, these "whole others" have a much more specific role. As we shall see, the fiddlers who composed the whole others were poly-instrumentalists, thus combining the practices very different from a very sound instrument (usually the oboe) and a more intimate instrument (usually violin). After finding this fact 16th and 17th centuries after examining the inner workings of these orchestras and musical roles of various fiddlers within them, we will try to understand the root causes of this poly-instrumentality and measure its impact on the employment status of these musicie ns and the overall status of their music. Returning the problem, one can wonder how much the loss of the poly-instrumentality, in the early eighteenth e century, does not reflect the change in musical taste occurred in France and Western Europe in the second half of the 17th century, and does not expect the decline in ménétrière music from the late eighteenth e century.

Poly-instrumental ménétriers:

The golden age of ménétrières bands undoubtedly between mid-16th and mid-17th centuries. It was at that moment that the certificates of poly-instrumentality ménétrière are most numerous. In Lower Languedoc (now in the Aude department), it falls Guillaume Baret (named in 1598, died before 1636), Jean Bar and his brother (named in 1601, died in 1655), Pierre Fons (Contracts of Association between 1617 and 1629), Antoine Lacoste (employment contract dating from 1607), Antoine Nouyrit (born in 1590), Claude Sicre (various documents between 1612 and 1629), Michel Tracol (various documents between 1598 and 1626), Pierre Vaissier (same between 1615 and 1627), which are declared "master violins and oboe." Jacques Molinier (various documents between 1584 and 1626) is declared as "master player violins and other instruments Carcassonne"; Louis Molinier his son (who died in 1674), and Jean Molinier, son of Louis, (died 1680), as "instruments of players masters"; Paul Tailhan (died 1711) as "instruments players"; as Anthony Gay (commitments in 1606) Claude Laroze (Commitment 1606) (14) ... Whereby, temporary associations they represent bear the mark of this double performance practice. "The year one thousand six hundred and fifteen days of the month vingtdeuxiesme daoust about noon in Carcassonne to présance of me, royal NOTERE soubsigné and witness thereof cybas appointed have beene made in their persons and Jacques Louys Moliniers brothers Joffre Fermond Pierre Barthélémy Vaissier Anthoine Louys Molinier son said Michel Jacques and Tracol masters violins and aulbeoix of this city of Carcassonne, which of their own accord and free will went joincts and associated together to play as their violins that aulbeoix ... "(15). Same thing in 1627, when "Peter Vaissier, Anthoine Noirit Andre Viguerie and Guillaume and Jean Barets Fraires, touts masters violins and haultveoix of this city of Carcassonne "associate for one year (16). At the wedding of Louis XIV, is the Couble of Oboe of Toulouse Capitouls who is invited. François Bertault, witnessed the event, reported in his diary of the trip to Spain that "the band estoit ten men playing the violin very well, but still much better their oboe, which are quite cooperative" (17 ). This testimony is confirmed by numerous archival documents showing historical leaders of the Couble of Oboe of Toulouse Capitouls or such Mathelin Tailhasson Gaillard, said Matali, or Martial Maran said Poncet, as outstanding violin players and leaders ménétrières bands violin. In Toulouse, as everywhere, this instrumentality poly is attested from the middle of 16th century: in 1547-48, it is forbidden for Oboe "hold violin schools saw the danger of the plague ..." (18). The scrutiny of the French Ménestrandise archival documents would reveal very many other examples, spread across the kingdom, particularly in large cities or in their immediate surroundings. I'll stop there, however, the list of certificates of poly-instrumentality ménétrière, very long and tedious, nevertheless noting that the word "minstrel", which implicitly carries the mark of the poly-instrumentality, applies to all the minstrels of the kingdom, be they urban or not organized in guilds or not. This dual instrumental practice known extensions to the court as one of the five bodies of the royal music of the Great Stables, one of the "players of violins, oboes, and horns sackbuts" fielded a twelve instrumentalists sometimes violinists, sometimes oboe, cornet, saqueboutiers. On the other hand, the poly-instrumentality ménétrière seems general: it is attested throughout the XVII e century England, where many musicians are declared violin and sackbut players or horn or Hautboy (19).

Poly-instrumentality and polyphony:

The ménétrières bands, composed of a relatively large number of musicians (about six to twelve) are fundamentally polyphonic since, whatever the chosen instrument (violin or oboe), one finds all the records of the instrument, from highest to lowest. Most contracts of association between fiddlers mention this polyphonic structure. For example, in Tours, in 1667, ten minstrels associate for five years and form a band composed of top, high-cons, sizes, low: "The above instruments will be required by desdicts lesdicts Deshaies Jean Hamelot father and son, the haultecontre Pierre Bertault Young, Pierre Joannes and Rene Girouard, sizes and Estienne Hamelot Philippe Brunet, the Basses by Pierre Des Cours Estienne and Rigault & absence of said Des Cours and Rigault led. Pierre Bertault the elder one and François Pasquier will play "(20). Some corporate statutes mention also the various "parts" of these constituent orchestras fiddlers. Those of Bordeaux, in 1621, are presented as "the rules, statutes that will keep watch by & (...) [the] former players of musical instruments. To wit, violins, oboe, trumpet and flutes of the city of Bordeaux, both for themselves and their successors in the future. "Instrumental categories being thus specified, the articles remind that" Music is a body composed of several parts, as are Superieux, High, Low Height, Quinte Apart, Low Against that are members of that body: if someone one of the said parties are missing, they make the imperfect body ... "(21). Four voice polyphonic classical building that fiddlers integrate systematically enough in most of their bands, is added a fifth voice to the late sixteenth e century (22). However, in the second half of the 16th century, there increased top portions and low at the expense of the intermediate portions. Before a musical construction so rigorous, the question that one is entitled to ask is about the possible disintegration of these bands when bands of violins, oboe bands they become, and vice versa. Curiously, these buildings retain their stability and efficiency, simply because the instrumentalists, if they change their instrument, do not change register. Aude A partnership agreement specified well: "... during the association and quompagnie they will play and learn soneront said Jacques Sackbut dune and dune straight from violin, Molinier said Louys old dung and dung over daubeoix above violin, said Fermond dung above daubeoix and dune violin haultecontre, said Vaissier aulte dune and dune against dauboix bass violin, said Bartholomew tailhe dune and dune cone Violin tailhe, said Molinier dung son of a snake and over the violin and lefit Tracol dune dung tailhe daubeoix dune and bass violin "(23). In this band, seven fiddlers, four remain exactly the same register or have a neighbor register. There are exceptions to the usual polyphonic distributions. This partnership agreement proves it. But they are nevertheless quite rare. Sometimes, however, that, occasionally, the fiddlers decide to assign a different voice to their companion. For example, when one of the partners reported a wedding market peers, we thank him by giving him the top part of the violin. In 1588, Henri Picot, high-cons, is filling this part unattractive to play. Also, his companions they give him the opportunity to sound the horn above, "provided he is a haulte against ayt to ring instead of him" (24). These examples bring us proof that the minstrels sang ient truly polyphonic music musical idioms of the various registers are different, we are in a musical pattern polyphonic kind. This is confirmed by a very interesting document, dated 1511. This document (Archives of Meurthe-et-Moselle, B 1016) mentions the word "done" for oboe king: "For haultbois players from Roy who played faicte thing to dine with my said Lord [the Duke of Lorraine] ... 3 guilders." Now this word "done" design e "polyphony, taken in the general sense." This is at least the precision brought by the famous medievalist musicologist André Pirro to Gustave Cohen in 1925 (25). Some other evidence, very rare, however, attest formally this polyphony: "It's a wonderful thing to see rustic poor, who know no music, however, play all kinds of wank in four parts is greater, size , against high and low against their bagpipes, bagpipes and oboe (...) These musicians make them the are four parts and are so well known accordans with their instruments that it is something very beautiful and sweet hard to hear them and are related to other device that nature alone who teaches them, a thing at all admirable to see all these poor villagers and play all kinds of parts that can tell them and put them on the four parts well and good method is that most paid music can not scarcely do better ... " (from a text by Pierre Robert of Dorat, lieutenant general of the Basse Marche, on the rural Poitou entertainment at the beginning of the 17th Century) (26).

The repertoire and style:

very little is known about the directory ménétrières these bands, music, oral tradition, having generally not recorded. It nevertheless remains some court music directories to dance the royal minstrels or service of the aristocracy and nobility interpreted. These directories, known from the Re birth, however, pose problems in the Baroque age, where their musical use will become more and more "stylized" disconnected from any choreographic function. That said, beyond this sphere still quite limited, we know little or nothing of what playing the province of fiddlers in their dances, their processions, urban and rural, and for wide public, bourgeois and popular. Nevertheless, it has two interesting indications: in Toulouse, a work by Mathieu Lannes, organist 17th century, is played by fiddlers oboe of Couble Capitouls at a masquerade in 1711. This is the March of Moundis I've never been able to find; in Montpellier, an English traveler, John Locke mentions, in 1676, ten fiddlers fiddlers playing receiving a Doctor of Medicine "airs Lully" (27). These two points show, despite all the conflicts between fiddlers and musicians and scholars composers 17th and 18th centuries, despite the presence of two aesthetic discourse clashing more and more openly as gateways between many music called "popular" and classical music. And if it were needed, that the opposition oral / written is irrelevant to differentiate so-called "popular" music or "traditional" "learned" music. On the other hand, we can deduce from these two indications that improvements in the game and violin technique observed throughout the 17th century have apparently been incorporated by some fiddlers anxious not too marginalized. All testimonies agree to describe a rudimentary violin playing in France at the court of the king, at least Regarding the technique of the left hand. Mersenne reports (Harmonie Universelle, 1636) that the game does regular violinists rarely exceeded the first position. By cons, he said the "excellent violins" manage to "make up each string until the octave by means of the handle," that is to say, playing the fourth. But at the same time (1650), Kircher gives the violin a range of four octaves, which involves the use of the sixth position (28). Anyway, the DEMANCHE (manico Italy applicatur Germany) makes its appearance at the 18th century, with varying fortunes and developments since the French violinists mostly use the first or the third position While the Italians or the Germans sometimes resort to the sixth position (Uccellini Italy, Kelz Germany ...). For cons, the technique of the right hand (bow) seems more developed in France than in neighboring countries. This particular game, combined with enough agility and expressiveness of the left hand, seems mostly to have developed in France at the royal minstrels of Twenty-Four Violins, driven by Lully, and in the Petite Bande, competitor, it will create and which he will head soon after, in 1656. Already in the time of Mersenne (1636), the Twenty-Four Violins have a fairly subtle" The beauties and kindness that we practice it are so numerous that one can prefer the [violin] in all other instruments because of his bow strokes are so delightful that one has no greater dissatisfaction than to hear the end, especially when meslez of earthquakes and flattemens left hand "(29). The fiddlers violinists practice vibrato, trill, ornaments, decreases (30). The information on the game and the style of provincial ménétrières bands are extremely rare. In this sense, the description of Sebastian Locatelli trip in Lyon in 1664-1665, gigantic ménétrières bands in this region is a document of the highest order, "Music of the country [Lyon] is to play together forty or fifty large bass viols [actually violin bass, called "low processions"] together fifteen or twenty violins. We need to play the bass viols, give greater bowing. Also do they have very loud sounds, but so beautiful and so able that nothing can be heard better. We never tire of listening and the best musicians that play continuously new tunes. They usually make such a clatter that they seem to invite you to the battle and put you in the heart bellicose ardor "(31).

Space and systematic poly-instrumentality ménétrière:

It is the systematic poly-instrumentality ménétrière I propose to examine now, stressing his character perman ent for at least two centuries, and trying to measure its geographical space, social, ritual, music. For this, I will go to the very widespread name for at least four centuries and largely generic instrumentalists of Ménestrandise "as high instrument Players that low." There, in the late 14th and until the 17th century, a dual classification of musical instruments, from (in principle) of the acoustic test the volume. The instruments are well divided into two opposite categories: those sounds and those that are not. To characterize these two categories, the majority of European countries adopt the terms "up" and "down" concepts whose interpretations are many and symbolic of which are very loaded. Indeed, up and down can be perceived from an acoustic point of view, that of the volume but also the register (frequency). Top and bottom are alo rs synonymous with acuity and severity. But one can not help thinking in the social sense of the high word (= noble), as well as the notions of high and low immediately introduce the idea of a spatial whose first, which serves as universal reference, is the Christian religious spatial (up = sky, low = Earth, hell), the latter introducing de facto an obvious moral dualism (up/down = right/wrong, good/monstrous, big/small, major/minor, etc.). Dualism, spatial apparently at the heart of this instrumental classification which if true purpose one may ask is not to introduce a social and religious hierarchy of the various families of musical instruments, hierarchy based only on criteria and organological acoustic loaded with a strong symbolic? What instruments that are classified in one or other of these categories? There is unfortunately a lack of an overall classification of musical instruments datant of the medieval era and the Renaissance. We must therefore proceed by a multitude of overlapping medieval texts known in which the sound of musical instruments is explained. From these texts, we are able, as did some musicologists before us, to draw up a rough list that among the low, are all chordophones (pinched, rubbed, scraped and beaten) and the organ, while among top instruments are all aerophones reeds and mouthpieces, and the most significant idiophones and all membranophones. If flutes - polymorphic type - is however quite complex: some musicologists, refusing to see a wide variety organological and therefore a large range of sounds, classify in full or among senior, among the lowest. In this classification it is possible to determine a number of constants organological, one is, to me he seems paramount: except chordophones bow (and flutes considering those low), all instruments are low harmonics (polyphonic). These two opposing notions of high and low, here based on differences in volume, interfere with those of the acuity and severity (the sharpness is high, gravity is low), the word gravity, thanks to all polysemy remarkable, with strong overtones of religiosity. And even if the low instruments are not necessarily serious or are not only serious, it prevents that it is played alongside entertainment, in severe circumstances are those of the musical expression of religious sentiment before even liturgical music itself. The instruments are low in the vast majority of stringed instruments harmonics, their musical symbolism will be strongly religious, and this from very early times, from antiquity g recque, but especially since the dawn of the Christian era and dogmatic discourse of the Church Fathers. Their low volume, but paradoxically their resonance (which alone applies to low organologiquement instruments), the presence of strings (flesh of Christ), wood as the main material, naturally harmonic their game, make instruments divine status (the Christ metaphor of the harp and psaltery - they symbolize the cross of Christ - will appear in the first few centuries of the Christian era and continue at least until the end of the XV e century). The fiddle, despite his monophonic character, will benefit the Middle Ages an almost religious status, since it will be the preferred instrument accompanying hagiographic or almost hagiographic genres are the saints Lives or the Chansons de geste. Conversely, the high instruments are excluded from religious symbolic field. Already in ancient Greek musical life, they s have have a symbolic and honorary position, that symbolize the civil and military powers. In the Bible, they enjoy the same symbolic. When they do not apply to civil and military authorities, senior instruments symbolize the royal and military metaphor of God, "King of Heaven", the undisputed leader of the "Angels, Archangels, Thrones and Dominions (...) [ of] the military forces of Heaven. " With this symbolic function of the high music, we joined the social meaning high. symbolizing a e social elite who, originally, has the power by force of arms, the music reinforces a very special symbolism that applies to some top instruments. Many Doctors of the Church in fact believe that the mouth instruments (Horns and trumpets ...) have a material (metal) which symbolizes fire and therefore the war and destruction. In the Middle Ages, the affirmation of new political identities will constitutionally body high music, including horns and trumpets, but also oboe and various reed instruments and membranophone (drums, tambourines, timpani). It is interesting to check this correspondence through lexicography. These "word games" are often instructive in more ways than one. We have seen that the sound characterized the high personages (= noble), but the noise word, which means the high volume, is a sense of reputation! ("He had acquired a good noise during his life," Littre). From the beginning, so there was the "mouth of minstrels' senior players instruments whose function was emblematic, honorary, ritual, ceremonial. But there were parallel fiddlers players down instruments for this relax, rest sovereigns, to incite the dance ... And the fiddlers being highly professionalized in the Middle Ages and the ancien regime, they had to do continues to accumulate these two very different musical practices in order to embrace the whole world of instrumental music, with the exception of religious music. With the low instruments, minstrels were playing dance music, and intervene more broadly in a popular, family, intimate context to outside as inside. They then came to mingle with some top instruments (membranophones and oboe). But, when they played in an official and urban context, their instrumentarium was strictly homogeneous and usually high. With senior instruments, minstrels were involved in all consular ceremonial royal throughout the urban party, official, political, public. Add in conclusion that this poly-instrumentality, whose primary function was to ensure universal playground with fiddlers, and thus ensure their professional status, was mainly made minstrels living and working in big cities or in medium-sized cities. Rural or semi-rural, semi p rofessionnalisme being majority, poly-instrumentality was not necessary as a vital necessity. And indeed, it appears only very occasionally.

The loss of the poly-instrumentality reveals the musician decline:

Several documents seem to attest a general loss of poly-instrumentality ménétrière the late 17th century. One of the most prestigious body fiddlers, that of "violins, oboes, and horns sackbuts" Great Stables of King, which was composed of twelve poly-instrumentalists minstrels, became in 1700 the body of the "Twelve Great King's Oboe "and turns back at the same time to any multi-instrumentalist practice. In England also, poly-instrumentality ménétrière seems to disappear towards the end of the 17th century. This abandonment, generally poly-instrumentality immediately suggests ow assumptions that further analysis shows. The first is the confiscation fiddlers in the seventeenth e century, some playgrounds that were traditionally reserved for them, including bass dance music in the elite of the Ancien Regime society. aesthetic and sociological hypothesis. The second is that of a gradual disappearance of Municipal ménétrières bands, mostly high, victims of a reorganization of the kingdom and increased monarchical centralism. Cities lose the 18th century little power and autonomy they still held against the royal power. Therefore, the question of a musical iconic representation (expensive) does not arise: they permanently delete their ménétrières bands. They will do more readily than the king himself removed definitely loads of violinists of the Great Band of Twenty-Four Violins in 1761. Political Hypothesis so. Losing these various playgrounds, particularly in cities, fiddlers can no longer claim, or more difficult, professionalism. Therefore, the poly instrumentality is no longer a necessity. But another assumption, more symbolic, more anthropological, seems relevant since it seems to be the direct cause of the first, that is, to ire of the ouster of the ruling circles ménétrière music. It is that of an intrinsic marginality ménétrière deliberate choice fiddlers to monody. By switching from the late 15th century, exclusively monophonic organology, minstrels not only resolutely place in the secular field, but exclude new musical entertainment standards scholar, some musical traits are in the aesthetic extension of religious music. Despite their instrumentality poly- and the original vastness of their scope, the only aspect of their instrumentarium monophonic place fiddlers in a symbolic field of great antiquity and a great time. In early èr e Christian, while the Fathers of the Church develop a highly effective allegorical argument for tolerating or even recommend the use of certain musical instruments, we note that neither the reed instruments or flutes do belong. These instruments are excluded from the musical pantheon. They are the prerogative of buffoons; they propagate an aesthetic of death. They are then demonized. Later the Middle Ages, with the staging of religious theater (liturgical dramas, mysteries and semi-liturgical) or the Renaissance and the Baroque, through the staging of court ballets and carousels, present the musicians monophonic wind instruments (oboe, torches, flutes, bagpipes) under the guise of devils or animals (wolves, goats, donkeys, monkeys, etc.). Finally, most of these monophonic instruments (oboe, rebecs, violins, flutes, bagpipes) were placed in the field of the damned death (see the numerous representations of macabre dances), of hell, but also of the Sabbath, metaphorical construction that seems to appear in the early 15th century. The Sabbath, which leaves a great documentary literature, notably with the witchcraft trials, says until the end of the XVII e century at least, the systematic presence of monophonic musical instruments. This choice instrumental, conscious or not, at the turn of the XV e and XVI e centuries, seems to predispose some fiddlers marginality. Unless it is not the reverse, as fiddlers basically marginal beings, should have excluded themselves from what appeared to be the musical standard. Is there a fundamentally ménétrière attitude would be a conscious differentiation, permanent, public, into a self-exclusion, self-marginalization? This issue deserves further ... (32). In conclusion, I do not think you p witzerland, as I did in my book The French Fiddlers ... to the decline and disappearance of ménétrière music in France in mid-17th and especially at the end of the 18th century, in one account political and sociological changes. Undoubtedly, the cultural dimension, much more persistent, much older and transhistorical, is it also to be considered in all its diversity, including religious and symbolic. But it remains, however, that the ménétrière music, born of a political crisis, also disappeared for political reasons, considerable centralism victim has introduced the French monarchy at the 17th century. The story fiddlers is a beautiful page, perhaps the most beautiful page in the history of the very close links between power, identity and music. And in that page of history, the ménétrières bands are the most accomplished revealing.


* This conference features some of the one I have given at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris, January 10, 1996, at the invitation of Mrs. Florence Gétreau, in the Seminar Organology and Iconography Music 1995-1996 "Musicians, factors and theorists in the Renaissance." The conference was entitled "Space, constantly and systematically poly-instrumentality in the musical practice of French fiddlers 16th and 17th centuries. " I thank Ms. Florence Gétreau agreeing whether partially published here.

1. CHARLES-DOMINIQUE Luke The French Fiddlers under the old regime, Paris, Klincksieck 1994, 335 pages.

2. Jacques Le Goff, "For a long Middle Ages" Medieval Fantasy. testing, Paris, Gallimard, Library Stories, 1991 (repr.), Pp. 7-13.

3. GOMEZ-Muntané Maria del Carmen La musica en la casa real Catalan-aragonesa (1336-1442). Flight. 1 historia documentos y, Barcelona, Bosch, 1977 pp. 47-60.

4. LESURE Francis, "The birth of the orchestra in France in the early seventeenth e century " History of Music, Paris, Gallimard, Pleiade, 1960, Volume 1, pp. 1561-1572.

5. Bukofzer Manfred F. Baroque Music. 1600-1750. From Monteverdi to Bach Paris, Lattes, 1982 (French trans.), 1988 (repr.), P. 158.

6. SCHAEFFNER Andrew, "Musical instruments and instruments of music" musicology tests and other fantasies, Paris, The Sycamore, 1980 pp. 69-71.

7. CHARLES-DOMINIQUE Luke The French Fiddlers ..., op. cit. pp. 134-143.

8. On the Couble of Oboe Capitouls, vo ir-CHARLES DOMINIQUE Luke, "The Oboe Couble of the Toulouse Capitouls. Fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Role iconic, social function and history of a municipal orchestra music ménétrière " The Music in the South of France. Volume 1, XVII e XVIII e centuries Acts of Villecroze Dating from 1995, Paris, Music Academy of Villecroze, Klincksieck, 1996, pp. 43-55.

9. Tradition in Poitou Charentes and. Folk art, ethnography, folklore, hagiography, history, Company National Ethnographic and Folk Art, Congress Niort 1896 edition reprint Paris-Niort 1897, Poitiers, Brissaud, 1981, p. 401. (This document was communicated to me by Mr. Dominique Gauvrit).

10. Mercure de France, September 1738, pp. 1968-1970. (This document was given to me by Ms. Florence Gétreau).

11. BOYER Hyppolyte, "The Fiddlers, dance masters and masters of arms" Memoirs of the Historical Society of Cher, 1909, pp. 35-36. (This document was communicated to me by Mr. Jean-François 'Maxou' Heintzen).

12 . archival documents transmitted by Mr. Michel Colleu, when preparing the book Music Breton, Le Chasse-Maree / ArMen 1996.

13. On this subject, LESURE Francis, "The popular orchestras in Paris towards the end of the XVI e century " Musicology Review, 1954, or as CHARLES-DOMINIQUE Luke The French Fiddlers ... , pp. 87-92.

14. Jean-Louis Bonnet, Bouzignac, Moulinié and musicians in the Pays d'Aude. XVI e XVII e centuries. Beziers, Languedoc Musicology Society, 1988, p. 81-98.

15. Departmental Archives of the Aude, 3E908.

16. Departmental Archives of the Aude, 3E930.

17. Robert John "Oboe Players Toulouse in Bayonne in 1660" Research on traditional French music, XIV, 1974, pp. 297-298.

18. Municipal Archives of Toulouse, 89 BB, p. 432.

19. PINCHERLE Mark, "The condition of violinists in France before the XVIII e century " The Revue Musicale, Twentieth year, No. 4, p. 158.

20. Departmental Archives s of Indre-et-Loire, E441. (This document was communicated to me by Sylvie Granger).

21. Old and new statutes of the city of Bordeaux. Statutes of masters players of instruments. Bordeaux, Simon Boe, 1701.

22. LESURE Francis, "The popular orchestras in Paris towards the end of the XVI e century " Musicology Review, 1954, p. 51.

23. Departmental Archives of the Aude, 3E908.

24. LESURE Francis, "The popular orchestras in Paris towards the end of the 14th century " Musicology Review, 1954, p. 53.

25. Gustave Cohen, The manager of Conduct Book and expenditure accounts for the mystery of the Passion, played in Mons in 1501 Paris, Champion, 1925, repr. : Slatkine Reprints, Geneva, 1974, p. XCVI.

26. Collection Dom Fonteneau, Poitiers library. quoted in Tradition in Poitou Charentes and ..., op. cit. pp. 399-401.

27. Goulemot Mr. Jean, Paul Lidsky, MASSEAU Didier Journey to France. Anthology of European travelers in France from the Middle Ages to the end of the Empire, Paris, Robert Laffont, Coll. Bouqu ins, 1995, p. 692.

28. Musurgia Universalis 1650, Volume 1, p. 486.

29. Mersenne, Universal Harmony, 1636, Book IV, p. 177.

30. On the violin technique in the Baroque age, we can see Bukofzer Manfred F. Baroque Music ..., op. cit. pp.147-166, but especially to the excellent synthesis proposed by CIZERON Janine, "The violin technique from the Baroque treaties" Defense and illustration of virtuosity, texts collected and presented by Anne Penesco, Cahiers du musicological Research Center, Université Lumière Lyon II, Lyon University Press, 1997, pp. 63-81.

31. Goulemot Mr. Jean, Paul Lidsky, MASSEAU Didier Le Voyage en France ..., op. cit. p. 154.

32. On this marginality fiddlers and on the more ancient but of the same type, jugglers, reference may be made to: SCHAEFFNER Andrew, "Musical instruments and musical instruments' musicology tests and other fantasies, Paris, The Sycamore, 1980 pp. 69-71. SCHMITT Jean-Claude, The gestures of Reason in the medieval West, Paris, Gallimard, "Library of Stories," 1990, 432 pages. CLOUZOT Martine, The images in Musician. The iconography of musicians and musical instruments in the manuscripts of northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Germany, 13th to 15th century, PhD thesis, EHESS, Paris, 1995. PASTOUREAU Michel The fabric of the devil. A history of stripes and striped fabrics, Paris, Le Seuil, 1991.

15 Dec 2017: "The book by Gretchen Peters, 'The Musical Sounds of Medieval French Cities', comprehensively covers all known French Waits (and other musicians) up to 1500, and it's in English." Alan Radford.

Return to History Index