distractions are usually avoided by great musicians

Instrumental Versus Vocal – Which One Dominates?

Instrumental Versus Vocal – Which One Dominates at any particular time? Secular cultures have greater emphasis on instrumental. Religious cultures emphasized more vocal music.  Troubadours and jongleurs elevated the dominance of instrumental music in Medieval times. How did they come about? The oldest mention of the word troubadour as trobadors is found in a 12th-century Occitan text by Cercamon.[1] The sixteenth century Italian historian Giammaria Barbieri was perhaps the first to suggest Arabian influences on the music of the troubadours.[13] With instrumental versus vocal, the former comes out ahead in this case. Later scholars like J.B. Trend have asserted that the poetry of troubadours is connected to Arabic poetry written in Spain.[14]

Instrumental versus vocal
This name came from a Medieval French tradition
Exterior of the Troubadour in 2006
Location9081 Santa Monica BoulevardWest HollywoodCalifornia
Coordinates34.08138°N 118.389399°W
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Seating typestanding


Instrumental Versus Vocal Plays Out


  1. Instrumental music was given a boost by the Crusades. War and hardship also resulted from the Crusades.  But, these Holy Pilgrimages also brought about  free flow of ideas to Europe from the Middle East. Author Theodore M. Finney in A History of Music goes so far as to state: …”the development of harmony may sometime need to be rewritten giving much more weight to Eastern influence. Eastern being Arabian influence.”
  2. Instrumental music, Finney states, was at first fashioned by what he calls “rough people”. This simply means people who did not dwell in towns or villages. They used instruments to accompany their wanderings with their flocks of goats or sheep. . Also, they would play for their own dancing. These activities, in turn,  gave rise to instrumental secular music.
The troubadour Perdigon playing his fiddle.

Here are two class systems that gave rise to more instrumental music. This system involved the division between Troubadours and Jongleurs. This music was performed by groups of musicians known as troubadours,trouvères, and jongleurs. The troubadours and trouvères were active in France.  The troubadours to the south. Trouvères to the north. They were medieval poet musicians that catered to the upper class, or the nobility. Oftgen they were noblemen themselves.

The Jongleurs were often collaborators or assistants of Medieval Troubadours or Minstrels. Jongleurs gained a reputation of itinerant entertainers of Medieval France and in Norman England.  Many were deemed to be vagabonds. They wandered from court to court with their music.

Finally, with regards to the featured picture. David Rubinoff is on the left. Fritz Kreisler is on the right. They were royalty of music. We can compare them to the troubadours. Dave made as much as $500,000 annually by performing on the violin and conducting for the Paramount Theaters in New York and Paramount pictures in Hollywood. For some 15 years I was his accompanist and arranger.  Enjoy this caricature of a classic jongleur to troubador Rubinoff to realize an exaggerated difference.

Music Prolongs Life of Rubinoff and His Violin – DSO Works





Image result for pictures DSOworks of Rubinoff and His Violin

Music is Love: The French Troubadors

Music is Love: The French Troubadors spread their music to the trouveres in northern France, then to the minnesingers in Germany in the the Age of Chivalry:. What characterized the Age of Chivalry? Respect for the Virgin Mary in particular and for women in general. The Age of Chivalry was an acceptable counter statement against male dominance.  It began the practice, at least in recent times, of placing ladies on a pedestal. The French people not only gave birth to impressionism, but also to chivalry, in part, through the musical ballad first sung by their troubadours. The earliest known troubadour was Guilheim VII (1071-1127). The noble group flourished from the 12th to the 14th centuries.

Music is Love: The French Troubadors: Their themes for poetry included courtly love, praise of women, religious songs inspired by Mary, and extolling the the bravery of the Crusaders. Sometimes it was the husband who was treated with comic derision. Traditions die hard, if at all. The troubador style found its way, centuries later, into Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde as the basis of the 2nd act.  In northern France, the song of the troubador was developed into “Chanson de geste”. These songs were longer epics of great and noble deeds. Music of the French trouveres and troubadors  often used regular four bar phrases in the mode of the major key as to the more unstructured musical melissmas and modes that the church used.

In no uncertain terms, melody, in the above sense, signals the return of the goddess culture be it through (1) Virgin Mary or (2) elevation of  female in general. I believe it is time for it to reappear. In my blog entitled One Musical Hoagy Please!, I discuss how melody had been coming back to America, alternating with rhythmically oriented songs, in 10 year cycles.  Hoagy Carmichael’s success was impacted by this cycle. Before the depression, no one would publish his Stardust. After October of 1929, when the Depression began, it became a nationwide best seller. Just as ladies can console and make the men feel better, melody has the same affect on both men and women. In conclusion, Music is Love: The French Troubadors and their sentiment of poetry and music will return. We are in great need of this new Age of Chivalry. Let’s celebrate and encourage its return.

Related image
The Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo DaVinci around the year 1504. I believe it is an expression of the Age of Chivalry.