THE TRAVELING MINSTREL TROUPE
- culmination of all ideas -
in the beginning there was 'the xperience'http://everett7.blogspot.com/2010/12/xperience.html
then there was 'the bohemian lifestyle'http://everett7.blogspot.com/2011/03/bohemian-lifestyle.html
then there was 'the dj: the life of the party'http://everett7.blogspot.com/2011/05/dj-life-of-party.html
then there was 'behram 420'http://everett7.blogspot.com/2011/07/behram-420.html
then there was 'the experimental troupe'
and now we have 'the minstrel'....
the minstrel is the culmination of all the five ideas listed above because in a sense it includes elements from all of them that are very similar to each other. the xperience, for starters, relates to the minstrel in that it holds the experimental aspect of it much more than the experimental troupe does. the experimental troupe holds the traveling aspect. the bohemian lifestyle holds the medieval gypsy aspect of it. the dj: life of the party holds the lively aspect of it and the behram 420 holds the influential aspect of it. all of these ideas intermingle each other so in a sense they are all one idea messed out into different parts.
by definition the minstrel is ‘a medieval wandering musician who performed songs or recited poetry with instrumental accompaniment’. (dictionary.com) the minstrel is associated with a poet, a musician, a singer, a jongleur, a balladeer, a jester, a story teller, a comedian and a bard. interestingly the word ‘bard’ is associated with prophets or people who tell the future. the word minstrel is a combination of ‘entertainer’ and ‘servant’. so basically minstrels were traveling musicians that often times served nobles and princes through entertainment and comedy. more in-depthly the minstrel is a musician ‘who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. frequently they were retained by royalty and high society. as the courts became more sophisticated, minstrels were eventually replaced at court by the troubadours, and many became wandering minstrels, performing in the streets and became well-liked until the middle of the renaissance, despite a decline beginning in the late 15th century. minstrelsy fed into later traditions of traveling entertainers, which continued to be moderately strong into the early 20th century, and which has some continuity down to today's buskers or street musicians’. (wikipedia)
from the description above this sort of profession is very similar to the nature of behram 420. here is the history behind it:
In the year of 420 A.D. "Behram Gour, a wise and beneficent prince of the Sassanide dynasty (226 b.c – a.d. 641) realized that his poor subjects were pining away for lack of amusements. He sought a means of reviving their spirits and of providing some distraction from their hard life. With this end in mind he sent a diplomatic mission to Shankal, King of Cambodia and Maharajah of Indian and begged him to choose among his subjects and send to him in Persia persons capable by their talents of alleviating the burdens of existence and able to spread a charm over the monotony of work. Behram Gour soon assembled twelve thousand itinerant minstrels, men and women, assigned lands to them, supplying them with corn and livestock in order that they should have the wherewithal to live in certain areas which he would designate; and so be able to amuse his people at no cost."
as we see from the quote above the minstrel, as a profession, basically does the same thing: entertain people. ironically these kinds of activities, that the world gives so much attention to now, such as music, art, bands, comedy, circuses, magic, etc, used to be forbidden and shunned upon as a profession. anybody that would practice these professions used to be punished. if that were still a rule a lot of people today wouldn't be able to pursue their dreams but now that it has gradually become acceptable among almost every culture in the world it is considered a common thing. in every society it is a necessity so essentially the world wouldn't be the same without the minstrel!
now there is another vein or side to the minstrel that is more commonly known to our generation and is seeped in racial, cultural and political issues. what was once the medieval minstrel became the blackface minstrel which was sort of a commercialized institutionalized political/racial version of the medieval type. instead of dressing up in noble outfits and singing about tales from far off lands and reciting poetry from respectable authors white men dressed up in costumes and make up to resemble stereotypical black people and performed shows full of content consistent with the current propaganda to acculturate the black race and sort of 'enslave' them into a certain societal frame that wasn't truthful for the general black race. although these shows were very popular and successful because they included walk in parades, dances, musical bands, speeches, skits, plays, slapstick comedy, circus type antics and etc. since minstrelsy was becoming very popular even black people started performing as 'black face' minstrels after the civil war. it is notable to mention that black face minstrelsy was 'the first distinctly american theatrical form. in the 1830's and 1840's, it was at the core of the rise of an american music industry, and for several decades it provided the lens through which white americans saw black america'. (wikipedia) this is monumental on two fronts. firstly this type of entertainment for america was avant guard in its nature. nothing like it had been done before in the US. and secondly it provided a way for most of white america to understand black people, though halfheartedly, or rather begin to try and understand them in a more influential way than classrooms or textbooks and thus on their terms through the use of racial humor and cultural entertainment accept them into their fold. though the use of blackface minstrelsy was ill intended it brought white america and black america together causing the two cultures to merge. so not only was the minstrel shows productive in providing the groundwork for future industries of entertainment like comedy central, bet, mtv, american idol, award shows like the emmys and the grammys it was also productive in helping to reshape a different society through the use of entertainment.
if i may back track, as with the bohemian lifestyle in which there are many people living as gypsies today without knowing it so do we have many people living as minstrels today without knowing it. a gypsy in the most simplistic sense is basically a nomad. in our day and age more people live a nomadic life than in the past. a minstrel in the most simplistic sense is basically a traveling musician or artist. in our day and age more people have taken up the lifestyle of music and performance than in the past when it was considered just for the few. now with the gypsies, there is a integration of culture interaction when they travel to other lands and with the minstrels there is a spreading of 'culture' interaction when they share their music, stories, poems, etc. experimentally, as a avant guard group, if we are able to create a new set of beliefs in song and philosophies in poems and travel the world or different cities as gypsies and convey them to other cultures or other societies through entertainment as minstrels then we will be able to bring about another reshaping of a different culture/society as with what happened through the black face minstrel shows.
my background for this premise purely stems from the fact that our world is shaped by our beliefs. what we collectively believe in as a society is what we experience as a reality. each culture and nation has a different experience of life because of their beliefs from religion, philosophies, societal norms, governmental laws, etc and that in turn affects their quality and level of life. these beliefs generate thoughts which in turn generate imaginations. our imaginations mold our reality and the emotions attached to them empower what we believe to manifest into our natural world. the way we are now as a nation, as the world and as a human race is because of our collective thoughts over a period of time. a lot of society's thoughts come from the media. the way we think naturally as a society is from the result of brainwashing. our thinking affects our mode of being entirely. what we feed ourselves with is what we become. whoever has the most money controls the media and whoever controls the media controls the people. entertainment has more sway in affecting a nation than the government, religion or education can ever do. the elite people of the world know this as a fact. think about how with the introduction of spongebob squarepants the idea of a living sponge in the bottom of the ocean has become a reality to many children. think about how the boogieman and monsters under the bed are a reality to many kids. think about how for so many people santa claus is considered a actual person. think about how many superstitious practices are integrated into people's lives today such as black cats, walking under ladders, umbrellas in buildings and other bad omens. think about how the notion of unclean races was the seed to causing the deaths of millions of jews, gypsies, homosexuals and blacks. think about how with halloween we have the reality of many mythical monsters, demons and killers walking around. think about how with many scary movies people can't sleep at night afterwards. think about how more people know about mcdonalds and fifty cent than they do about history and their presidents. this is because more focus is given to these things through the control of media. it is not called entertainment for no reason. we are actually getting what we want. i must say history is less entertaining than santa claus which is the reason why such buzz words like music and art are given more attention to because they hold more influence.
as minstrels we can start creating our our tales of how we want the future to be and communicate it with the embellishment of music, dance, comedy, magic, etc. we can create a whole new world through entertainment alone by using the power of words, suggestions, images, sound, humor and art! we are the carriers of change! as we travel from place to place we'll become like a parade for the whole world to see and experience. parades pave forth positive emotions and leave behind happy trails. they change the collective mental frame of entire cities. they change the atmosphere of places instantly. our inspiration is from how we see and want the world to be in the future not from how we see the world now as most men do. as we entertain the masses, instead of posing as black people or imitating the common present man like the minstrel shows were inspired to do, we will pioneer experimentally as a new breed of humans inspired by future visions, desires and possibilities with new inventions, new ideas and new ways of life. with this we'll bring the current mundane world into a place of merging with our future foreseeable one that is directly in relation to the evolution of mankind.