German poet-musicians of noble birth who flourished from the
12th to 14th centuries. Inspired by the French troubadours
(not the trouveres), the minnesingers became
the leading, in fact, practically the sole representatives of German music
during the Middle Ages.
In spite of the French influence, the music of the minnesingers
differs considerably from that of the troubadours
and trouveres. The texts are narrative
rather than amorous or idyllic. The melodies are more markedly
than the French ones. The French refrain forms, the virelai
and the rondeau, are absent
in the German repertory, which uses only two forms, the Bar
form, derived from the French ballade,
and the Leich, derived from the French lai.