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Periods of Classical Music. Classical Music is art music rooted in the traditions of Western Music. . Medieval and Renaissance. The Medieval Period. Time: Approximately 500 – 1450 A.D. The Medieval Period.

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periods of classical music

Periods of Classical Music

Classical Music is art music rooted in the traditions of Western Music.

Medieval and Renaissance

the medieval period
The Medieval Period

Time: Approximately 500 – 1450 A.D

the medieval period1
The Medieval Period
  • Most of the music at this time was sacred music (church music); this music was called plainsong or chant and represented the earliest known music of the Christian church.
  • Plainsong is monophonic, which means that is consisted of a single vocal part.
  • Around 1011 AD the Roman Catholic Church wanted to standardize the Mass and chant, the resulting music is what is called Gregorian Chant.
  • Most composers are not known.
troubadours and minstrels
Troubadours and Minstrels
  • During the High Middle Ages (late Medieval period) the troubadour came into existence. A troubadour is a composer and performer of poetry who made a living as an entertainer, hired by wealthy nobles.
  • Most were not simply wandering entertainers, though some did travel extensively from one court to another.
  • A troubadour is similar to a minstrel, but minstrels generally told stories of distant places and events and did not always create their own poetry.
  • Most troubadours and minstrels also played instruments or sang their stories.
  • Many of the instruments we use today existed in the Medieval Era, but in a different form. At that time the flute was made of wood instead of metal.
  • Early versions of the organ, fiddle, and trombone (called the sackbut) existed.
  • Other instruments used include: The Pan Flute, Recorder, Lute, Psaltery, Zither, Hurdy-gurdy and hammered dulcimer. Jaw Harp/Jew’s Harp.
  • Bowed psaltery is not a true psaltry, came into use in 1900s.


Jaw Harp

Pan Pipes


Hurdy Gurdy


music notation
Music Notation
  • Music in the early part of the Medieval period was generally passed on orally. Eventually music began to be notated, though without a staff, and this is where our modern music notation originated.
the renaissance period
The Renaissance Period

Approximately 1450-1600

the renaissance
The Renaissance
  • The Renaissance time period was a period of intellectual rebirth, when the arts flourished, and ideas and intellectual pursuits were highly valued.
  • Music was still dominated by the church but with more sophisticated melodies and harmonies; different styles begin to emerge.
  • Polyphony, having more than one note (having harmony) came into common usage.
  • The development of printing made distribution of music possible on a wide scale, and demand for music as entertainment and as an activity for educated amateurs increased.
renaissance instruments
Renaissance Instruments
  • Brass: Slide trumpet, cornetto (like recorder but blown like brass, largest was called serpent), trumpet, sackbut (early trombone).
  • String: viol, lyre, Irish harp, hurdy-gurdy, harpsichord.
  • Percussion: jaw harp and tambourine.
  • Woodwind: shawm, reed pipe, bag pipe, transverse flute, recorder, panpipe.
renaissance instruments1
Renaissance Instruments




Irish Harp



Serpent (largest Cornetto)

notable composers
Notable Composers
  • William Byrd (c. 1540–1623)

Giovanni Pierluigida Palestrina, c. 1525–1594

  • Giovanni Gabrieli
  • (c. 1554/1557 – 1612).
  • Claudio Monteverdi, 1567–1643
need to know
Need to Know
  • Approximate time periods for Medieval (500-1450) and Renaissance (1450-1600)
  • Sacred vs. Secular – religious music vs. non-religious music
  • Some instruments for extra credit
  • What a Troubadour is
  • What polyphony and monophony mean (more than 1 part, one part)
  • What period printing began (Renaissance)