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Norton Media Library. Enjoyment of Music Essential Listening Edition Chapter 13 Medieval Music. by Kristine Forney Joseph Machlis. 13. Medieval Music. Sacred Music in the Middle Ages Liturgy: set order of services and structure of each service in the church  

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Enjoyment of Music Essential Listening Edition Chapter 13 Medieval Music

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Enjoyment of music essential listening edition chapter 13 medieval music

Norton Media Library

Enjoyment of Music

Essential Listening Edition

Chapter 13

Medieval Music


Kristine Forney

Joseph Machlis

13 medieval music

13. Medieval Music

Sacred Music in the Middle Ages

Liturgy: set order of services and structure of each service in the church  

Characteristics of Gregorian chant (plainchant)

Monophonic texture


Latin text

Chant is classified by the way the notes are set to the text

Syllabic: one note per syllable of text

Melismatic: many notes per syllable of text

Early chants were handed down orally  

Early chant notation used neumes

Neumes suggested contours of the melody but not rhythm

Scale patterns used are the church modes

13 medieval music cont d

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

The Mass

One of two categories of services in the Roman Catholic Church, the other being the Offices

The prayers that make up the Mass fall into two categories:

Proper: texts change according to the day

Ordinary: texts are the same for every Mass

Life in the Medieval Cloister

Cloister: a place for religious seclusion



Cloisters were places of prayer, scholarship, preaching, charity, healing

13 medieval music cont d1

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

The Music of Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

1150 founded convent in Rupertsberg, Germany  

Known for miracles and prophecies  

Recorded collections of visions and prophecies in manuscript  

Composed religious poetry with music

Characteristics of Hildegard’s poetry

Brilliant imagery

Visionary language

Collected in volume: Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial

Revelations, for liturgical church year

13 medieval music cont d2

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

Hildegard of Bingen: Alleluia, O virga mediatrix (Listening Guide 2)

From the Mass Proper

For feasts of the Virgin Mary

Ternary form (A-B-A)  

Responsorial form (soloist alternates with chorus)

Monophonic texture  

Conjunct melody with few leaps  

Free, nonmetric rhythm  

Text setting falls between syllabic and melismatic (neumatic)

13 medieval music cont d3

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

The Rise of Polyphony

Polyphony evolved toward the end of the Romanesque period (c. 850–1150)

Organum: earliest polyphonic music  

Second melody added above or below the older Gregorian melody  

Evolved at Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris  

Polyphony necessitated the use of notated rhythm and pitch

Rhythm was chosen from a group of patterns called rhythmic modes

A new genre emerged near the end of the thirteenth century

Composers wrote texts to second melody in organum  

13 medieval music cont d4

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

The Rise of Polyphony (cont’d)

New genre called motet (mot is French for “word”)

Sometimes the languages were mixed in one piece

French and Latin

Motets can be sacred or secular  

A Gregorian chant is the basis for a motet

13 medieval music cont d5

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

Secular Music in the Middle Ages

Secular music grew in a separate tradition from sacred polyphony

Different classes of secular musicians emerged

Troubadours were southern French high-class musicians

Trouvères were northern French high-class musicians

The poems of the troubadours and trouvères had diverse subjects

Poetry of secular song often focused on idealized love and chivalry

Secular songs sung monophonically, with improvised accompaniment

13 medieval music cont d6

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

The French Ars nova and Guillaume de Machaut

Ars nova (new art): movement beginning in 14th-century France

Greater refinement than music of the Ars antiqua (old art)  

New developments in rhythm, meter, harmony, and counterpoint

Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300–1377) was the foremost composer

French poet and composer

Double career as cleric and courtier  

Composed motets, chansons (French for “songs”), and a polyphonic Mass Ordinary  

Favored fixed text forms: rondeau, ballade, virelai

13 medieval music cont d7

13. Medieval Music (cont’d)

Machaut chanson: Puisqu’enoubli (Listening Guide 3)

Three-voice French chanson  

Text: rondeau form  

Music reflects pain of unrequited love

Low melodic range (depths of despair)

Early Instrumental Music

Instruments played a supporting role in vocal music; sometimes doubling

Instrumental music mostly improvised (not notated) for dance

Performed by ensembles of soft (bas) or loud (haut)instruments

Soft instruments include recorder

Loud instruments include sackbut (early trombone) and shawm (medieval oboe)

Instruments were categorized by their use (indoor or outdoor)

Exploration 3 chant as music for worship

Exploration 3: Chant as Music for Worship

Ritual music is evidenced in most cultures

Western Christian sacred songs take various forms

Sung or recited to text

Early Christian music had several influences

Singing in Judaism

Music of the Church of Byzantium

In Islam the Koran is chanted

Call to prayer is chanted

Exploration 4 opening doors to the east

Exploration 4: Opening Doors to the East

Religious wars and exploration opened doors to the east

Five organized Crusades (1096–1221)

An attempt to take the Holy Land of Palestine from the Muslims  

Crusading knights learned military skills and weaponry from Turkish and Moorish warriors  

Advanced medical and scientific knowledge of Arab world imported to Europe

Enjoyment of music essential listening edition chapter 13 medieval music

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This concludes the Norton Media Library Slide Set for Chapter 13

Enjoyment of Music

Essential Listening Edition


Kristine Forney

Joseph Machlis

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