Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 26 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cosmas and Damian
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

The medieval aid to relaxation

J-P Mauro - published on 02/17/19

Let the medieval music traditions relieve your stress.

There’s a reason the Middle Ages were once known as the Dark Ages. Of course, the term used to refer to what was believed to be a scarcity of records from the period that lasted from the 5th through the 15th centuries, but the nickname also acts as a metaphor for the relative brutality of the age.

In those days the roads were unsafe to travel without weapons or an armed escort. Crimes committed with no witness would be lost to history, and just preparing meals and saving grain for the winter was a full-time job for the average person. All this, before considering that the people were contending with wars, crusades, famines, and the Black Plague.

With such an abundance of hardship and strife, the people of the Middle Ages understood the need for relaxation after a long day of tilling fields or mining for ore; hence the development of folk music traditions. It should be noted that in the music world, “folk music” is a blanket term for any music that is passed through the oral tradition, as opposed to art music, which is composed in written form with theoretical considerations.

The instruments available in the Middle Ages included lyres (hand harps), lutes, flutes, whistles, hammer dulcimers, animal hide drums, and the human voice. With no artificial amplification available, of course, they excelled at producing soft, sweet tones that could rouse a lively jig in a pub or serenade the children to sleep.

The people of the Middle Ages understood that relaxation begins in the mind, and so they produced music that would soothe and comfort. This is a lesson we can still take advantage of today. Next time you’re drawing a nice hot bath, or resting by the fireside, put on this 10-hour-long medieval playlist, which thankfully does not repeat too often, and see just how relaxed you can become.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.