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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.

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