Music of the MiddleAgesFrom Gregorian Chant to theRenaissance
Intro to Music History
6 Periods of Music History (Ancient) – Doesn’t really count Medieval Renaissance Baroque Classical Romantic Modern
Ancient Period This term refers to the music of the Ancient civilizations (Greece, Rome, Babylon, Mesopotamia, et cetera. Very little is known about the music of these civilizations, but it is certain that music played a part in their lives. How can historians know anything about music from these cultures?
Medieval Period 800 – 1300 C.E. Music was very simple. Gregorian Chant Monophony vs. Polyphony Beginnings of Notation – all handwritten
Middle Ages spanned almost 1000 years Early Christian Romanesque Gothic Ars Nova There were two schools of music during the Middle Ages Ars Antiqua - 1100-1300 (Old Art) & Ars Nova - 1300 – 1450 (New Art)
There were two schools of music during the Middle Ages Ars Antiqua - 1100-1300 & Ars Nova - 1300 - 1450
Ars Antiqua began in Paris at the Cathedral de Notre Dame
Representative Ars Antiqua Composers• Leonin (1163-1190)• Perotin (early 13th century)• Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)• Anonymous (?)
What is Ars Antiqua?• Literally means “old art”• Stemmed directly from Gregorian Chant• This style of music can be characterized as adding hollow sounding harmonies(perfect 4ths & 5ths) to existing chants.• This type of music is called organum.• Originally, one voice would be added above the existing chant. The chant would be sung very slowly - it was called the cantus firmus.
Early Polyphony• Polyphony means more than one pitch played at the same time - what we typically call harmony.• The first type of polyphony was called parallel organum. Here the cantus firmus and the higher harmony mirrored each other.• Eventually composers like Leonin and his student Perotin began adding a third and fourth part above the cantus firmus, and moved away from the eerie sounding parallel organum.
Meanwhile, in Germany…• Hildegard von Bingen, who herself was a nun with reported mystical powers, began composing music different from the Notre Dame school.• Von Bingen wrote music that sounded wildly different than plainchant, which some attributed to her lack of musical training. Her melodies, even today, seem contemporary.
What kind of music was happening outside of the church?• Secular music, or popular music, has existed throughout history, especially during the Middle Ages.• Secular music of the Middle Ages was the first to be written down on paper and preserved. Today, performances of secular music is possible using these surviving pieces of music.
Troubadours• Troubadours were French musicians who traveled across Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries.• They sang mostly love songs.• They accompanied their love songs with instruments, unlike the church.
Adam de la Halle(1237-1286)• The most famous troubadour ever• Wrote the first ever musical theater piece Le Jeu de Robin et Marion• Inventor of the Motet• Motet - a piece of music where two or more different verses are fit together simultaneously, without regard to harmony
Medieval Instruments• Instruments in early secular music were used to accompany songs.• Musicians usually improvised the simple accompaniments.• While the accompaniments were melodically simple, they were rhythmically lively.• Let’s take a look at the many different instruments used in these accompaniments…
Drum or Tambor
Ars Nova• 14th & 15th century France• The invention of modern notation• The creation of the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass• The popularity of the motet
Representative Ars Nova Composers• Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377)• Francesco Landini (1325-1397)• Anonymous (?)
Guillaume de Machaut• A poet & a musician• Created the first Ordinary for the Catholic Mass• Created many of the musical forms of today (rondos and ballades)• Master of counterpoint
Examples of Ars Nova Music Music from this period was the first to add stems to the nuemes, thereby creating our modern system of notation.
This piece is called“Sumer is icumenin” and is theoldest survivinground.
Conclusions1. Most Medieval composers wrote mainly for the church and remained anonymous.2. Compositions are more as a function or duty.3.Music was held in high regard but those who made it were not.
4.Church believed that music should make the listener or participant receptive to hilt thoughts and feelings.5. Purely instrumental music was prohibited.6.Plainchant became a symbol—a means of ensuring intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic solidarity with in the Christian domain.