Medieval rock

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Medieval rock band ' Vroudenspil ' with drums , guitars and market bagpipes

Medieval rock ( English Medieval rock [ mediˈiːvəl ɹɒk ]) is a genre of rock music . Instruments of modern rock music - electric guitar , electric bass , drums or electronic elements - are combined with historical instruments: bagpipe , harp , hurdy-gurdy , shawm , flute , whistle , lute and others. The lyrics are often inspired by the Middle Ages . Because of the often harder orientation and fluid boundaries to folk metal , medieval metal is considered a sub-genre of medieval rock.


The essence of medieval rock is the combination of rock music or metal with medieval instruments, folk elements as well as medieval-inspired lyrics and stage shows. On the one hand, the genres of music from the medieval scene , folk and folk rock are delimited. On the other hand, there is adherence to the genres of hard rock , the new German hardness , folk metal and metal in general. The genre has its origins primarily in East Germany and has remained essentially a German phenomenon to this day. In contrast to Pagan Metal , medieval rock rarely makes direct references to Germanic folklore. The Merseburg magic spells , which were set to music by Ougenweide and later In Extremo , are an exception . The texts of medieval rock are mostly in New High German , less often in an ancient language. As in the music of the medieval scene, instruments, composites, lyric poetry as well as singing do not represent any claims or references to the historically authentic music of the medieval era, but rather arise essentially from the ideas of mediaevalism of later eras up to the modern age Typical use of wind instruments in medieval rock on a style of playing that did not begin to develop until the Renaissance .

Medieval rock is popular in the black scene and is often wrongly assigned to gothic rock . The roots of the Gothic movement, however, go back to the post-punk and wave environment.



Eric Fish (Subway to Sally)

Originally, primarily medieval or traditional pieces were "pepped up" with rock elements. While Ougenweide did this to a very subdued degree in the 1970s, often limited to individual riffs and a few ancient instruments such as the recorder and krummhorn , the modern elements increased in the 1990s.

The origins of the medieval rock scene in the reverb trails of DDR - underground music search, which aggregated under the other bands different groups u. a. of punk rock , post punk and experimental Dadaist styles worked. On the other hand, folk music was also quite present at the time. Furthermore, the market bagpipes appeared for the first time , through which the medieval music in the bagpipe rock style emerged, played by formations such as Spilwut and Tippelklimper . The latter also played musicians who founded Corvus Corax in 1989 . Out of that atmosphere of medieval, alternative and folkloric music developed into medieval rock in the 1990s, initially mainly in East Germany. The emergence of medieval markets, which served as meeting points and venues for the developing scene, seems to have played an important role. In 1991, the Inchtabokatables were ascribed medieval attributes, but this is more in the biography of some members than in the music itself. The melody of the Palestine song by Walther von der Vogelweide was only used in one (nameless) song from 1994 . In 1990 Subway to Sally was founded in Potsdam from the band Bodenski Beat and some folk musicians, including Eric Fish from Catriona . However, the music of that time can only rudimentarily be assigned to medieval rock.

From 1990 the East Berlin punk band Feeling B - consisting of singer Aljoscha Rompe , guitarist Paul Landers and keyboardist Christian Flake Lorenz - experimented with medieval elements. The group visited medieval markets and soon appeared there themselves, with some bizarre stage shows. On her album "Wir kriegen euch alle" (1991), instruments are used that are clearly attributed to medieval rock today. In the songs "Schlendrian" and "Slamersong" z. B. Listening to shawms. In 1993 Feeling B released “The Mask of Red Death”, the first concept album on which medieval music was clearly mixed with punk music. Some of today's scene classics such as Heiduckentanz, Traubentritt or Rotta can already be found on this album, they emerged from the collaboration with the musicians Guido Burck, Rene Mansfeld and Jean Walther from the band Arte Cantores from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania . The bagpipe and shawm parts were also recorded from these. How it came that a (fun) punk combo began to play music influenced by the Middle Ages, the band gave detailed information in the booklet of the CD:

“Alyosha is to blame. When there were still funny medieval markets here a few years ago, he heard the old horns and shawms for the first time. Since then he has been trying relentlessly to bring various medieval musicians and Feeling B together. The first attempt was the song "Revolution 89?" in June 1990. Things really got going in the summer of 92, when a medieval pile settlement was built from 3000 meters of sackcloth and 40 truckloads of wood in stone bridges . All that was missing now was the minstrels, whom we found in the small village of Saal near Ribnitz-Damgarten (...). The music that we made together was really messed up by Feeling B in a short time and now pressed onto a record. "

- Feeling B, CD booklet "The Mask of Red Death", 1993

Nowadays, Feeling B are rather unknown in the scene itself. One reason for this is to be found in the fact that the band only followed the novel concept for a short time. They separated at the end of 1993. Two of the three regular musicians, as well as the drummer at the time, went to the Rammstein group , in which medieval influences play no role. The Feeling B project was continued by singer Rompe after a break with a new line-up, but with a different musical direction.

From around 1994 Subway to Sally used medieval elements, for example a soprano shawl in the instrumentation, and adapted texts, for example by François Villon , paired with relatively hard alternative rock. In addition, however, there were more folk- related elements such as violin , acoustic guitar and Great Highland Bagpipe in the instrumentation. In terms of lyrics, Subway To Sally practiced German poetry with medieval references from 1995. Since then she can be clearly attributed to medieval rock.

Style development

In Extremo
Corvus Corax

In 1997 In Extremo created Ai Vis Lo Lop, sung in traditional Occitan , a style in which medieval and rock elements stood side by side on an equal footing. At about the same time as In Extremo, Corvus Corax began with corresponding attempts, which then manifested themselves in the strongly electronically influenced project Tanzwut . Even Subway to Sally slammed the publication of the 1999's album wedding to a much harder type of sound. This style development was likely to have been influenced by the then successful New German Hardship . An interpretation of actually medieval pieces of music was common in the early years. By the end of the 1990s, most of the melodies were own compositions and the lyrics were mostly in New High German . On the other hand, Adaro are an exception, who set the Middle High German lyrics of minnesong to music. After the turn of the millennium, both Subway to Sally and In Extremo contain texts that are completely unrelated to the Middle Ages.

The spectrum of medieval rock consisted of a dichotomy that is still valid today : Some groups of medieval music only operated medieval rock as a side project, such as the aforementioned Corvus Corax with dance madness. Other bands such as Saltatio Mortis alternately play acoustically medieval music and medieval rock. In Extremo also emerged from such alternating groups, but from 1998 concentrated on medieval rock. Immediately they broke away from the strict adherence to medieval themes - but without abandoning the coarse, sometimes heroic style. The transitions to the NDH are partly fluid, as is clear from Ragnaröek . The market sack pipe as an instrument, as well as the stage shows, however, clearly have a medieval connection. However, neither the instrument mentioned, nor the clothing of the musicians or their appearance are authentic testimonies to the Middle Ages, but rather as pure Middle Ages symbolism. On the other hand, there are groups that are only slightly influenced by medieval music, but rather feel inspired by folk music. Accordingly, the instrumentation with violin , flute and accordion falls out, while the market bagpipe plays a subordinate role or is absent. In addition to the veteran Subway to Sally, Schandmaul is a popular representative of this orientation.

Medieval rock is a typically German phenomenon and has also been commercially successful in this country since the late 1990s. With In Extremo, the genre has even managed to gain a foothold in the mainstream for several years. Outside of Germany there are very few bands that have a similar style. Instead, Folk Metal , which is otherwise quite widespread in Europe, is hardly at all pronounced in Germany.

With Schandmaul from Groebenzell , a West German formation in the genre of medieval rock became popular for the first time. Others like Saltatio Mortis from Karlsruhe followed. In the meantime, no clear regional differences can be made out; medieval rock has long since grown into a pan-German phenomenon.

Medieval metal as a subgenre

At the turn of the millennium, Subway to Sally let clear influences from heavy metal flow into their music for the first time with their studio album Hochzeit . The more progressive use of guitars and drums is characteristic of this. From then on, this style was continuously developed and strengthened. Subway to Sally came after the release of their album Engelskrieger with the largest heavy metal independent label Nuclear Blast under contract, under which they released albums from 2004 to 2010. They are represented annually at the major metal festivals in Germany and appear every two years at the Wacken Open Air . While representatives such as In Extremo, Saltatio Mortis, Tanzwut, Cultus Ferox or Schandmaul are still more oriented towards Hard Rock and the NDH in the variety of their guitars, the younger representatives of the style increasingly refer to metal. The band Ingrimm , founded in Regensburg in 2005 , the Hamburg band Vogelfrey and the Landsberger Cumulo Nimbus are particularly close to heavy metal . All three bands mentioned not only use heavy metal power chords and progressive drums, but also guitar solos and experiment with guttural singing. The Harpyie , founded in 2011, also draw influences from Metalcore . In contrast, there are bands like Ragnaröek and Impius Mundi , which are more oriented towards the classic variant of medieval rock. In this context, one can speak of the formation of a sub-genre of medieval metal within medieval rock. A closer proximity to European Folk Metal can still not be determined because it is more oriented towards the varieties of Black and Death Metal .


Medieval rock is a mixture of styles of hard rock and the music of the medieval scene . The style is “primarily shaped by the typical instruments of a rock lineup. This includes electric guitar, drums, bass and vocals, as well as synthesizers. ”Bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy as well as other historical and historical instruments are integrated into the sound and used more as an accompaniment than a load-bearing. Occasionally representatives fall back on an artistic language freed from modern terms, similar to the so-called market speech of the medieval markets . Historical and historicizing texts are often presented. Accordingly, music groups of the genre are often relatively large in comparison to rock bands, as they often consist of a full-fledged rock band and complementary musicians from the medieval scene. Occupations of eight people are not uncommon.

German speaking bands

Saltatio Mortis

The more well-known representatives of the genre in German include:

See also

Individual evidence

  2. a b Iwen Schmees: Music in the Middle Ages Scene . Styles, repertoire and interpretation. Diplomica, 2007, p. 44 .
  3. ^ Gregor Rohmann: Veitstanzähnliche movements . Dimensions of a pattern of interpretation between Martin Luther and Ozzy Osbourne. In: Ortwin Pelc (Ed.): Myths of the Past . Reality and Fiction in History. V&R Unipress, 2012, p. 111 to 158, here p. 154 .