Bratislava Musician Sings in Occitan on the Hurdy Gurdy, Troubadour Style

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I drove through Slovakia this week on my way from Budapest to Prague in a car. The great news about traveling by car is that you can take your time, take side roads and go off the beaten path into areas that are hard to get to by train or bus. We went through Slovakia’s capital Bratislava (formerly Czechoslovakia, last time I went through here in the mid to late eighties — now Slovakia and the Czech Republic). c, now broken into two countries).

Bratislava isn’t exactly off the beaten path which was evident by the number of tourists who were there on a Thursday afternoon. In many ways, it seemed as if the city was more modern than Budapest and certainly attracted more tourists in its main historical square, as evidenced by the number of English-speaking menus there were at the restaurants and cafes.

I ran across an outside musician who was playing what he referred to as a wheel fiddle in English or a hurdy gurdy (called that since 1883) it appears or a beggars lyre. When I asked him what he was singing, he said he was speaking in Occitan, the language of the troubadours, who were composers and performers of Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word “troubadour” is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz.

According to wikipedia, the troubadour school or tradition began in the 11th century in Occitania, but it subsequently spread into ItalySpain, and even Greece. Under the influence of the troubadours, related movements sprang up throughout Europe: the Minnesang in Germanytrovadorismo in Galicia and Portugal, and that of the trouvères in northernFranceDante Alighieri in his De vulgari eloquentia defined the troubadour lyric as fictio rethorica musicaque poita: rhetorical, musical, and poetical fiction. After the “classical” period around the turn of the 13th century and a mid-century resurgence, the art of the troubadours declined in the 14th century and eventually died out around the time of the Black Death (1348).

The texts of troubadour songs deal mainly with themes of chivalry and courtly love. Most were metaphysical, intellectual, and formulaic. Many were humorous or vulgar satires. Works can be grouped into three styles: the trobar leu (light), trobar ric (rich), and trobar clus (closed). Likewise there were many genres, the most popular being the canso, but sirventes and tensos were especially popular in the post-classical period, in Italy, and among the female troubadours, the trobairitz.

Below is a short video clip of him playing in the main square of Bratislava.

 

Renee Blodgett
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Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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