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 modal 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.