As its name would indicate, the Fira Mediterrània de Manresa (in Spain) showcases music from Catalonia and also from all around the Mediterranean. It provides a lively music trade fair where business connections can be made and deals closed, but it is also a citywide festival. Every resident can participate and the main boulevards are full of families taking advantage of the street performances, concerts and general party feeling.
I'll be covering the overall festival soon, but for now, here's a taste of medieval secular music from Els Berros de la Cort who were playing at El Sielu, one of the smaller club-like venues. As you will see the band uses authentic instruments, with the addition of some contemporary percussion and amplification. So while the sound is probably quite similar to what one might have heard at a medieval festival in timbre, there are definitely heightened rhythmic and dynamic elements.
The lyrics for the first a capella piece come from the "Speculum al Foderi," which was a kind of medical sex manual for the lay person (no pun intended, but hey....). The very title, which contains some rather blunt language, suggests that it was not published for royalty, who would usually be reading a book in formal Latin. The words themselves, which the band has set to original music describe various attributes of a woman: her fair parts, her dark parts, her round parts, her petite parts and her sweet smelling parts.
(The full song translation is available upon request.)
This is followed by an instrumental which is a free adaptation of "Molt Eram Dolz Mei Conzir" a composition by Arnaut de Maroil (sometimes written Arnaut de Mareuil), an Occitan troubadour of the late 12th century. The band also takes many of its lyrics from another medieval text about food.
This all leads me to believe there was lot more to medieval culture than we are commonly taught!
For more information about Els Berros de la Cort, visit: www.elsberrosdelacort.cat