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The Medieval Period
of Western Music History
476 A.D. to circa 1400 A.D.
The word Medieval is derived from the Latin
word “medius” meaning “middle.”
The Medieval Period in Western history is also...
Medieval Period of
Western History
 Lasted from about 476 A.D to 1400 A.D.
(different sources vary as to the exact dates)...
Heidelberg Castle in Germany
Built in 1214 A.D.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, FranceThe Cathedral of Notre Dame in...
Heidelberg Castle in Germany
Built in 1214 A.D.
A Medieval painting depicting angels stabbing dragons,
a common symbolic image in Medieval art.
Medieval painting depicting the victory of
Byzantine Emperor Heraclius over the Persians in 627 A.D.
Music of the Medieval Period:
Monody – Monophonic Music
(meaning “one sound”)
 Single line melodies with no accompaniment...
Developments in Medieval Music:
Polyphony
(meaning “many sounds”)
 Two or more lines of music sung or played
simultaneous...
Musical Notation in the Medieval Period
The most important development in music during the Medieval
period was the inventi...
Example of Medieval music notation:
“O virtus Sapientiae” by Hildegard von Bingen.
Sacred Music in the Medieval Period:
The Medieval Motet
 A polyphonic vocal composition with several different
melodic li...
Secular (Non-Sacred) Music
in the Medieval Period
Hildegard von Bingen
(1098-1179 AD(
was a German writer, composer, philo...
Gregorian ChantGregorian Chant
“Illuminated Manuscript”“Illuminated Manuscript”
Léonin
(flourished from circa 1150 - circa 1201)
Leonin was the first known significant
composer of polyphonic choral musi...
Secular (Non-Sacred) Music
in the Medieval Period
 Lyrics (words) often written and preserved;
music seldom preserved
 S...
Secular (Non-Sacred) Music in the
Medieval Period
Guillaume de Machaut
(c.1300-1377(
was a French composer of the late Med...
“Dame mon couer en vous remaint”
Medieval French Love Song
by Guillaume de Machaut
English Translation:
Lady, my heart rem...
Music of the Medieval Period
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Music of the Medieval Period

This presentation contains information and musical examples of music of the Medieval period of Western history.

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Music of the Medieval Period

  1. 1. The Medieval Period of Western Music History 476 A.D. to circa 1400 A.D.
  2. 2. The word Medieval is derived from the Latin word “medius” meaning “middle.” The Medieval Period in Western history is also known as the Middle Ages or also the Dark Ages. It was a period in the history of Western civilization when civilization broke down in various ways and became quite primitive. The cultural advances of ancient Greece and Rome were essentially lost with the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D. As a result, Western civilization had to begin again during the Medieval period.
  3. 3. Medieval Period of Western History  Lasted from about 476 A.D to 1400 A.D. (different sources vary as to the exact dates)  One of the 3 broad periods of Western history: Classic / Medieval / Modern  Founding of universities  Building of cathedrals and castles
  4. 4. Heidelberg Castle in Germany Built in 1214 A.D. The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, FranceThe Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France Built 1163 – 1345 ADBuilt 1163 – 1345 AD
  5. 5. Heidelberg Castle in Germany Built in 1214 A.D.
  6. 6. A Medieval painting depicting angels stabbing dragons, a common symbolic image in Medieval art.
  7. 7. Medieval painting depicting the victory of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius over the Persians in 627 A.D.
  8. 8. Music of the Medieval Period: Monody – Monophonic Music (meaning “one sound”)  Single line melodies with no accompaniment  Known as “chant,” “plainchant” or “plainsong”  Used as music for the early Christian church  Sung by monks practicing the “Divine Office” eight times a day at the specific hours  Gregorian chant – a more uniform system of chant that was developed under the reign of Pope Gregory I (590 AD to 604 AD) Musical Example: Plainchant: Viderunt Omnes No. 1
  9. 9. Developments in Medieval Music: Polyphony (meaning “many sounds”)  Two or more lines of music sung or played simultaneously  Polyphony began as an additional parallel line to a line of Gregorian chant  Music notation began to be developed around the same time that polyphony developed Musical Example: 2-Part Organum, based on chant melody
  10. 10. Musical Notation in the Medieval Period The most important development in music during the Medieval period was the invention of the modern system of notation for music. About the same time that polyphony was appearing, music notation was being developed. The founder of what is now considered the standard music staff was Guido d'Arezzo, an Italian Benedictine monk who lived from 995– 1050. Guido D'Arezzo's achievements paved the way for the modern form of written music, music books, and the modern concept of a composer. Guido d’Arezzo also composed a chant that became the basis for the “do, re, mi” syllables still used in teaching music today. The proportional system of note values for rhythm was also developed in this period.
  11. 11. Example of Medieval music notation: “O virtus Sapientiae” by Hildegard von Bingen.
  12. 12. Sacred Music in the Medieval Period: The Medieval Motet  A polyphonic vocal composition with several different melodic lines (several voices singing)  One line (called the “cantus firmus,” or “fixed song,” in Latin) used phrases from Gregorian chant  Lines above cantus firmus were different melodies and sometimes in a another language  Medieval motets often contained complex musical techniques Musical Example: Petrus la Cruce: “Aucun ont trouv” (3-part motet sung in Latin and French simultaneously)
  13. 13. Secular (Non-Sacred) Music in the Medieval Period Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179 AD( was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine nun, visionary, and polymath. She is one of the few composers from the Medieval period for whom biographical information still exists. Musical Example: Plainsong (Chant): “O frondens virga,” (“O leafy branch”) an excerpt from the Medieval morality play, Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues) by Hildegard von Bingen
  14. 14. Gregorian ChantGregorian Chant “Illuminated Manuscript”“Illuminated Manuscript”
  15. 15. Léonin (flourished from circa 1150 - circa 1201) Leonin was the first known significant composer of polyphonic choral music. Little is known about Leonin’s life, but it is believed that Leonin was French and lived and worked in Paris at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Perotin (flourished in circa 1200) Also called Perotin the Great, was a European composer, believed to be French, who lived around the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century. Perotin expanded and improved the polyphonic choral style established by Leonin.
  16. 16. Secular (Non-Sacred) Music in the Medieval Period  Lyrics (words) often written and preserved; music seldom preserved  Sung in vernacular (local) languages  Troubadours – traveling composer-singers who sang ballads about chivalry and courtly love Also:  Dance music (mostly lost today) Musical Example: 13th Century Medieval Dance Song
  17. 17. Secular (Non-Sacred) Music in the Medieval Period Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377( was a French composer of the late Medieval period and another of the few composers from the Medieval period for whom biographical information still exists. Musical Example: “Dame mon couer en vous remaint” Medieval French Love Song for 3 voices (polyphony)
  18. 18. “Dame mon couer en vous remaint” Medieval French Love Song by Guillaume de Machaut English Translation: Lady, my heart remains in you. However far I may be from you. With true love which dwells in me. Lady, my heart remains in you. Now I pray God your heart may love me. Without leaving me for any other love. Lady, my heart remains in you. However far I may be from you

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