Joyful Song Culture

Joyful Song Culture – Cécile de Morrée (postdoctoral researcher)

Singing joyful songs formed a set part of medieval festive culture. These songs about drunkenness, poverty and sexuality are not just popular – and sometimes: vulgar – amusement. When interpreted in relation to the complex of themes and metaphors that we refer to as ‘joyful culture’, these songs gain significance. They often demonstrate a clever verbal play and offer their users and listeners the opportunity to step outside convention and to comment on their situations. As such, joyful songs form a vehicle for both the expression and enhancement of individual identity and social cohesion.

Musicians and singers in a clam, Pieter van der Heyden after Jheronimus Bosch, 1562, Rijksmuseum.