MUSICAL SENSATIONSFROM THE TIME OF LORE By: Chris Cabena and Alexis Basel
K E Y P O I N T S I N M E D I E VA L M U S I CThe traditions of Western music can be traced back to the social and religiousdevelopments that took place in Europe during the Middle Ages, the years roughlyspanning from about 500 to 1400 A.D. Because of the domination of the early CatholicChurch during this period, sacred music was the most prevalent. Beginning withGregorian Chant, sacred music slowly developed into a polyphonic music called organumperformed at Notre Dame in Paris by the twelfth century. Secular music flourished, too,in the hands of the French trouvères and troubadours, until the period culminated with thesacred and secular compositions of the first true genius of Western music, Guillaume deMachaut.
GREGORIAN CHANTThe early Christian church derived their music from existing Jewish and Byzantine religiouschant. Like all music in the Western world up to this time, plainchant was monophonic: that is, itcomprised a single melody without any harmonic support or accompaniment. The manyhundreds of melodies are defined by one of the eight Greek modes, some of which sound verydifferent from the major/minor scales our ears are used to today. The melodies are free in tempoand seem to wander melodically, dictated by the Latin liturgical texts to which they are set. Asthese chants spread throughout Europe , they were embellished and developed along manydifferent lines in various regions and according to various sects. It was believed that PopeGregory I (reigned 590-604) codified them during the sixth-century, establishing uniform usagethroughout the Western Catholic Church.
N O T R E DA M E A N D T H E A R S A N T I Q UASometime during the ninth century, music theorists in the Church beganexperimenting with the idea of singing two melodic lines simultaneously at parallelintervals, usually at the fourth, fifth, or octave. The resulting hollow-sounding musicwas called organum and very slowly developed over the next hundred years. By theeleventh century, one, two (and much later, even three) added melodic lines were nolonger moving in parallel motion, but contrary to each other, sometimes evencrossing. The original chant melody was then sung very slowly on long held notescalled the tenor (from the Latin tenere, meaning to hold) and the added melodieswove about and embellished the resulting drone.
THE TROUVÈRES AND THE TROUBADOURSPopular music, usually in the form of secular songs, existed during the Middle Ages. This musicwas not bound by the traditions of the Church, nor was it even written down for the first timeuntil sometime after the tenth century. Hundreds of these songs were created and performed(and later notated) by bands of musicians flourishing across Europe during the 12th and 13thcenturies, the most famous of which were the French trouvères and troubadours. Themonophonic melodies of these itinerant musicians, to which may have been added improvisedaccompaniments, were often rhythmically lively. The subject of the overwhelming majority ofthese songs is love, in all its permutations of joy and pain. One of the most famous of thesetrouvères known to us (the great bulk of these melodies are by the ubiquitous "Anonymous") isAdam de la Halle (ca. 1237-ca. 1286).
TYPES OF INSTRUMENTS USED Woodwind Instruments - Musical instruments which were blown liketrumpets or bagpipes String Instruments - Musical instruments which were played with a bow orplucked Percussion Instruments - various forms of drums and bells were usedduring the Medieval times
INSTRUMENTS USED Strings Percussion Woodwinds The Harp The Flute Lute • The Drum The Trumpet • Cymbals The Pipe The Fiddle • The Triangle The Rebec • The Tambourine The Shawm The Psaltery • The Tabor Recorder • Timbrel Chittarone • Bells Flageolet Cittern The Bagpipe The Dulcimer The Crumhorn The Gem Cornett