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Secular Medieval Music During the Medieval Period, there were three classes of people. The first class was the nobility which was made up of kings, princes, and rich landowners. They owned land, and from these people came our legends of knights in shining armor. The second class consisted of priests who worked in the church and monks who lived in monasteries. The rest of the people, poor farmers and peasants, made up the third class. The average peasant lived to be only about thirty years of age, and ate little more than black bread and turnips. Popular music, usually in the form of secular songs, existed during the Medieval Period. Secular music was not bound by the traditions of the Church, nor was it even written down for the first time until after the tenth century. Like plainsong, secular songs were simple and only had one melody. They were usually faster than sacred songs and used the vernacular, or the people’s common language, instead of Latin. Hundreds of these songs were created, performed, and later notated, or written down, by groups of musicians thriving across Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. Minstrels were also known as troubadours and trouvères in France, and Minnesingers in Germany. The most famous of these musical groups were the French trouvères and troubadours. The minstrels traveled from castle to castle singing songs, telling stories and performing tricks. Minstrels gradually formed guilds and became more respected members of the growing middle class. The monophonic melodies of these itinerant, or traveling, musicians were often very rhythmic. The lyrics, or words, to a large number of these songs is courtly love, in all its versions of joy and pain. Many of the songs the trouvères and troubadours performed had an improvised accompaniment. Stringed or percussion instruments often accompanied the minstrels' songs. Secular music used a wide variety of instruments, including such string devices as the lyre and psaltery and the medieval fiddle , or vielle . Keyboard instruments included the organ. Percussion instruments included small drums and small bells. One of the most famous trouvères known to us is Adam de la Halle. Adam is the composer of one of the oldest musical theater pieces known in the West, “ Le Jeu de Robin et Marion ”.