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Music of the Medieval Period. Mrs. Heberer Music MF 1 February 14, 2012. A journey in music through the Medieval Period. A brief history of Medieval Music. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century.

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music of the medieval period

Music of theMedieval Period

Mrs. Heberer


MF 1

February 14, 2012

A journey in music through the Medieval Period

a brief history of medieval music
A brief history of Medieval Music
  • This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century.
  • The earliest Medieval music did not have any kind of notational system.
  • This form of notation only served as a memory aid for a singer who already knew the melody.
  • The music theory of the Medieval period saw several advances over previous practice both in regard to tonal material, texture, and rhythm.
  • Concerning rhythm, this period had several dramatic changes in both its conception and notation.
  • Due to the outstanding advances, musicologists debated

often and feverishly.

troubadours and trouv res
Troubadours and Trouvères
  • Troubadours – a composer and

performer from Northern France

during the Medieval Era

  • Trouveres – the Northern France version

of the Troubadour.

  • The music of was a dialect tradition of

monophonic secular song

  • The language was Occitan and Old French.
  • The period of the troubadours corresponded to the flowering of cultural life in Provence which lasted through the twelfth century and into the first decade of the 13th.
  • Common topics of troubadour/trouveres song were war, chivalry, and love.
  • Most of the more than two thousand surviving songs show a sophistication of music and poetry.
hildegard von bingen
Hildegard von Bingen
  • 1098 – September 17, 1779
  • German compooser
  • Bingen wrote theological, botanical and medicinal texts in addition to music
  • Uncommon for women to be as well-known
  • Wrote the oldest surviving morality play, “OrdoVirtutum”
  • Wrote sacred monophonic

music for voices and lute

  • C. 1200 – DOB is relatively unknown
  • European composer
  • Also known as “Perotin the Great”
  • Wrote in the arsantigua, organa (early polyphony music), and Gregorian chant styles
  • Most famous member of the Notre Dame school of polyphony
  • Anonymous IV called him “magnus,” a mark of esteem.
  • Works include Videruntomnes, Sederunt principles, and Alleluia, Posuiadiutorium
  • He wrote for solo voices, a cappella music
guillaume de machaut
Guillaume de Machaut
  • C. 1300 – April 1377
  • French poet and composer
  • One of the first composers

with biological information

  • Brother-in-law to a French King
  • “The last great poet who was also a composer”
  • Composed a wide range of styles including the motet, rondeau, ballade, and polyponic forms
  • Ars Nova musical movement dealing with love
  • Messe de Nostre Dame, En un gardin, Zodiac
  • Wrote mostly a cappella works
medieval instrumnets
Medieval Instrumnets
  • Pan flute and gemshorm – made of wood, side-blown or end-blown. Member of the woodwind and ocarina family. Possibly of Hellenic origin
  • String instruments – lute, mandore, gittern, psaltery, dulcimers, zithers
  • Lyra – first recorded European bowed string instrument
more medieval instruments
More Medieval Instruments
  • Hurdy gurdy was a mechanical violin
  • Most instruments were usually played alone, sometimes in small chamber-type ensembles
  • Most instruments were 14-century instruments, created during this time period or a little earlier
medieval instruments cont
Medieval Instruments, cont.





Jaw Harp


musical genres
Musical Genres
  • Gregorian Chant
    • Monophonic – one melody, no harmony
    • Vocal genre, no accompaniment
    • Sacred – used often in churches, liturgical
    • Very seldom were these chants written down
    • Created by Pope Gregory the Great
    • Still used today
    • Hildegard de Bingen wrote several chants
  • Ars Nova – new music
    • Polyphonic – more than one vocal line
    • Mostly secular (not in church) – French
    • A movement wanting more new music
    • Rejected by the Pope - The

monophonic chant, was becoming altered

    • Merging secular music with sacred music
    • Guillaume de Machaut
    • Used instruments, some a cappella
musical genres cont
Musical Genres, cont.
  • Motets
    • Varied topics, mostly sacred/some secular texts
    • “A piece of music Is several parts and words”
    • Motet – to move
    • Cantus Firmus – counterpoint
    • 2 to 3 part songs, French, Latin, English texts
    • Chamber ensembles and a cappella
    • Guillaume de Mauchant
  • Madrigal
    • Secular vocal composition, partsongs
    • Varied voices, from 2 – 10, mainly 6
    • Italian through-composed
    • Funny topics, usually about love
    • Almost always a cappella
    • The Aria formed from Madrigals
    • PiertroBemboand Petrarch
musical examples
Musical Examples
  • Guillame de Machuat – Rose, Lis, Printemps, Verdue
  • Machaut – Messa de Nostre Dame
  • Hildegard of Bingen – Spiritus Sanctus
  • Various – Madrigals
  • Brunette and Puerum – 2 motets
a few more things music in everyday life
A few more things…. Music in Everyday Life
  • Integral part of everyday life for the people of that time period.
  • Music of the Middle Ages was especially popular during times of celebration and festivities.
  • Music was often played during holidays and special parties.
  • On Mayday, dancers would dance to specially-prepared, high-pitched music.
    • It was believed that by doing so, the hibernating spirits would be awakened and forewarned that spring had arrived.
  • People during the Middle Ages also ate to the sound of traditional music during and between meal courses.
  • It was believed in those days that medieval music was not only delightful to the ears, but it also helped in the digestion of food, hence the reason for music at mealtimes.
  • The music of Medieval times was very important to the listeners of that era, whether it be for special celebrations, holidays, or for something as simple as eating a meal.