By the end of the fifteenth century, performances by instrumentalists were an intrinsic feature of life within the many cities that were dotted across the German lands of the Holy Roman Empire.2 Their music could be heard from all corners of these municipalities: from the towers that overlooked each urban space, to the specially constructed dance halls, the musicians’ balconies at the town halls and even on the rivers and streets. The importance of instrumental music to the cities is testified by the frequency and regularity of references to musicians in civic payment lists, which exist for the fourteenth century onwards.3 Other kinds of civic documents corroborate this perception of the significance of civic instrumentalists; official correspondence, council records and contemporary chronicles all contribute to the formation of a rich and lucid picture of the musical life of German cities at this time.4 Previously scholars have drawn on these invaluable sources to highlight the significance of these cities to musical developments of the period: the continual patronage of instrumental ensembles by the presiding city councils; the pre-eminence of German instrumentalists within the network of musical personnel that connected the cities and courts of Europe; and the emergence of many of the cities – most notably Nuremberg – as centres for the production and trade of instruments, have all been addressed in exemplary studies.5 German cities were indeed important musical centres at this time. In addition to the civic patronage of instrumentalists and instrument makers mentioned above, Maximilian I’s frequent visits to these municipalities during his relentless travels through the Reich and the regular use of the cities as venues for the political gatherings of his reign meant that resident civic musicians were often exposed to external influences, conveyed by the musical retinues of the visiting monarch and nobility. This chapter will present the activities of the instrumentalists of a number of Imperial or ‘free’ cities (the independent municipalities answerable directly to the Emperor) as entwined in the daily lives of the citizens as well as in the many secular festivities that occurred throughout the year. The performances of these resident minstrels were integral to the celebrations of weddings, carnivals and the myriad dances that were a customary and regular feature of city life. Through consideration of council records and other contemporary accounts, insights can be gained into musical performances for these and other civic customs, which were all defined by the political, social and cultural circumstances of the time.