In the fourteenth century all good Englishmen were singers. How large a part music played in the life of the time is apparent in Chaucer, who, as Burney remarks, ‘never loses an opportunity of describing or alluding to its general use, and of bestowing it as an accomplishment upon the pilgrims, heroes, and heroines of his several poems.’ The carved figures in the minstrels' gallery at Exeter Cathedral and the Angel Choir of Lincoln are lasting memorials to the universal popularity of music in that day. While the cleric devoted himself to the music that lent beauty to the services of the church, the layman delighted in the music of the banquet, the battle, and the chase. Edward III. himself kept a band of household minstrels that included ‘trompeters, cytelers, pypers, tabrete, mabrers, clarions, fedelers, wayghtes.’ Le Art de Venerie, written by Twici, huntsman to Edward II., reveals a highly developed hunting music, and the martial music is mentioned by Chaucer in the Knight's Tale (A. 2511–12):
Pypes, trompes, nakers, clariounes,
That in the bataille blowen blody sounes.
Born into such a world as this, the poet of Pearl and Sir Gawain bore the deep impress of the popular taste. His own taste was of wide compass, and included an appreciation of instrumental and vocal, secular and ecclesiastical music.