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UNIT TWO: Early Music. Medieval Music. Unit Two: Early Music. The Medieval Period.

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medieval music

Medieval Music

Unit Two: Early Music

the medieval period
The Medieval Period

Imagine you are a person in 5th century Rome, Italy. You do not know that your way of life and the empire you have lived in is about to crumble, but you know that money became scarce and life was getting more and more dangerous every day.

Survival is all that matters… but how am I going to secure the safety of myself and my family?

I need to find a strong protector, maybe that of a landowner who has money and lots of land? I could work the landowners land for protection of my livestock and family.

The Feudal System was born…..


Or maybe I will find protection in the Church, putting my faith and devoting my life in an invincible savior who promises to lead me to an eternity of happiness in heaven.

The Feudal system and the Church remained important throughout the Medieval Period.

The population _____, and people built more towns and cities so that, among other social and economic reasons, they could live together in a safer environment.

_____ between cities and countries flourished as people found that useful _____ and materials could be found in other areas.


As home and _____ became increasingly secure from outside invasion, people became more interested in the _____ and _____ of their dwellings and in the various things with which they could decorate them.

Increasingly elaborate styles of architecture in homes, castles, and churches developed significantly in the Romanesque and the later Gothic periods.

Other arts flourished– painting, sculpture, tapestries, stained-glass windows– as people sought ways to decorate their homes and to praise God visually in their churches.


Several major styles developed in the lengthy period from the centuries after the founding of Christianity to the 14th century.

As Christianity grew and spread, _____ and _____ wrote at length about their thought concerning their lives in this world and their relationship to God.

St. Augustine (354-430 ad) was one of the most prominent and articulate of the church of fathers in the early centuries of Christianity.

Numerous other theologians and philosophers contributed extensively throughout the Middle Ages to the development of ideas about Christianity in their writings.

In the later Middle Ages, secular literature began to flourish and continued to develop profusely in the Renaissance.

medieval music1
Medieval Music
  • The majority of music is _____ or sacred.
  • The music favored by the church is _____.
  • The music had a limited _____, moving mostly by _____, often centered around a tonic note.
  • The harmonic system was based of _____ – these modes were loosely derived from the ancient _____ modes – that predate the modern scale.
  • Early Church music was _____, but in the later centuries of the Middle Ages the Church played an important part in the development of _____.
  • Very few examples of the music from the early Middle Ages, but both vocal and instrumental music played an important role in social life.
  • Religious and secular music of the period shared many basic traits, but different characteristics developed in each as well such as, the use of instruments. The church of the early Middle Ages banned the use of _____.
  • There were four regions that had chant styles all on their own.
region 1 spain
Region 1: Spain


region 2 italy
Region 2: Italy


region 3 gaul
Region 3: Gaul


music for the church
Music for the Church

By year _____, the Church had codified its rituals into a standardized pattern of services.

Services included psalms, prayers, and readings from scripture became elaborate rituals and were held every day of the year. There were also a number of special days, often requiring even more ornate services.

Some of these special days were the great feast days of _____, _____, and Christmas. These were central to the Church year, and hundreds of other feast days and saints’ days were gradually added to the Church calendar.

These music of these services were learned without the help of musical notation, and included the music for innumerable _____, _____, litanies, and antiphons.


In the monastaries, _____ summoned the monks 8 times a day to sing and pray the Hours of the Divine Office, a series of worship services performed every day:

  • Matins- happened after midnight
  • Lauds-
  • Prime- sunrise service
  • Terce- midmorning services
  • Sext- noon services
  • None- midafternoon services
  • Vespers- services before dinner
  • Compline- evening services

The heart of the Church rite was the _____, derived from the Last Supper.

  • Mass was celebrated only on _____ and special days.
  • Later, a High Mass, with many parts of it sung, often followed shortly after Terce every day of the week.
  • The Mass consisted of two different kinds of texts: the Ordinary and the Proper.
  • The text of the Ordinary was always the same, even though some of the music might remain the same or change.
  • The text of the Proper changed depending on the theme of the service.

The early music written for the Mass is known as _____, or Gregorian Chant– after Gregory I, pope from 590-604.

Each chant consists of a _____ _____ _____ sung by a _____ choir or a soloist without accompaniment.

The chants were notated in symbols called _____, these predate modern notes.

  • The earliest nuemes were little marks that showed the relative height of pitches and were written without any staff, immediately above the words in a musical manuscript.
  • Chants were generally built on 1 of the 8 modes or scales. The modes make use of four different scale patterns, or _____ _____, each of which centers on a different note called a _____ and generally spans an octave in range.
  • The Authentic modes included the Dorian Mode, Phrygian Mode, Lydian Mode, and Mixolydian Mode.
secular music

A new body of poetry and music bloomed in the courts of Provence in southern France toward the end of the 11th century in the work of the _____. In Northern France, the Trouveres, and in Germany, the Minneseingers, wrote secular tunes too about courtly love and other chivalrous topics.

These songs were written in the native language and were usually unaccompanied, although they may have often been sung with the playing of a _____, _____, or some other Medieval instrument.

They were generally thought to have been in _____ meter and many were in Church _____.

the medieval sense of beauty
The Medieval Sense of Beauty

Early Medieval Art

Late Medieval Art

An emphasis on _____ was found in all the arts of the early Medieval period.

While paganism had stressed the reality of physical existence in this world, Judeo-Christian tradition though fo the world to come.

By the end of the Medieval Period, secularism and worldy pleasure began to replace the early emphasis on spirituality.

However paintings and sculptures, particularly in _____ Europe, continued to be permeated by religious feeling, now increasingly personal, introspective, and mystical.

the growth of polyphonic music
The Growth of Polyphonic Music

Polyphonic- containing two or more melodic lines

The earliest polyphony in church music was created by adding a second voice part to chant, this style of polyphony is called _____.

In the earliest form, organum which dates from the _____ century, a second voice _____ the plainchant melody, running parallel to it, generally three or four intervals above or below the original chant.

Paris in the late 12th century, organum reached its peak of development thanks to the great Leonin, the choirmaster at Notre Dame at the time. His music, called the Magnus liberorgani (Llarge Book of Organum”), was the best collection of organum of its time. This book was made up of two-voiced organa for the Propers of the Mass.

“Videruntomnes” is a very typical example of organum from this book. This selection makes use of two different styles of two-part polyphony– organumpurumand discantus. The purum style borrows from Gregorian chant very slow and reverent while the discantus style is rhythmically faster.


Leonin was not the only composer on the scene. His successor, Perotin made more use of the discantus style.

Perotin wrote three- and four- part organa but was more well known for his conductus. Conductus is serious or sacred songs that were not based on Gregorian chant.

He also spent a great deal of time revising and shortening the works of Leonin, often replacing the long purum style with the discantus style.

The composers that immeadiately followed Perotin continued to write three and four partpieces. New _____ were sometimes added in the _____ voices. The complexity and richness of sound were gradually _____. A new type of composition came to fruition, called the motet.


The motet was based on a tune that was usually borrowed from a chant. Over time, the voices in the _____ became more and more independent. Each had its own melody, its own words, and at times its own rhythmic mode. (what does this remind you of….?)

Towards the end of the 13th century, the _____ became freer in structure. The tenor and upper lines were borrowed from secular songs as well as from _____. Two _____ secular texts often appeared together over a tenor from plainchant. In general, music was being written and performed out of more aesthetic considerations and less directly tied to worship.

the music of the 14 th century
The Music of the 14th Century

Phillip de Vitry, a composer and music theorist of the _____ century, used the term ars nova(meaning “_____ _____”) in the title of his treatise of c. 1322, describing the new and profoundly different characteristics of style in music of the _____ century.

Among these different characteristics was an important development in _____.

Until the late _____ century, almost all music was in triple meter also referred to as tempus perfectum (meaning “_____ _____”). Triple meter means that every measure has three beats. Three was a number widely revered for mystical reasons, particularly its association with the Holy Trinity.

_____ Meter was viewed as imperfect. Vitry asserted that triple and duple meters were both equally acceptable.


Another innovation in rhythm was isorhythm, the repetition of one rhythmic pattern throughout a work. This rhythm was often combined with repeated melodic patterns. Isorhythm gives _____ and _____ to music.

The 14th century also saw a general increase in rhythmic _____. Composers of motets began to change rhythms frequently within a piece. Sometimes pieces would have more than one meter. Musicians, following the direction give by _____ signatures, had to be ready to change from a _____ of two beats to a pulse of ___ independently and confidently since there could be many melodic lines going on at one time.

Polyphonic settings of the Mass, particularly those of the Ordinary, occupied the composers in the 14th century. They made use of newer and older styles. Kyries, Glorias, and other parts of the Ordinary seemed to have been written independently of one another.

guillame de machaut1
Guillame de Machaut

The earliest complete _____ Ordinary known to have been composed is the Messe de Nostre Dame (“Mass of Our Lady” by Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377). Though sacred music formed only a small part of Machaut’s output (and the work of his contemporaries), the Messe de Nostre Dame is one of the most widely known works of the 14th century.

Guillame de Machaut was a composer, priest, poet, and civil servant born in Champagne, France to a noble family. After he became an ordained priest, he became a secretary to King _____ of Bohemia. Machaut followed King John on many military campaigns and also held positions with _____ in France. Throughout his life, Machaut maintained close connections with several royal families, writing poetry and music for them when he was able to do so.


His secular music was generally written in one of four popular musical forms all based on poetic forms. These musical forms are:

  • rondeau
  • virelai
  • ballade
  • Lai

Many of Machaut’s secular work were written as vocal solos to be accompanied by two or three instruments. Others were _____, possibly with improvised accompaniment.


During the _____ century, Italy was torn by numerous political and religious problems as well as by plague.

In this age of Dante, Giotto, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, people seemed to regard as a refuge of sanity in a world gone mad.

Three poetic-musical forms were especially popular: the _____, the _____, and the _____.

  • The madrigal was a poetic form with text that involved love or the beauty of nature. Written for two or three _____, the upper voices presented melodic material over the slow-moving lower voice.
  • The cacciawas a work in which two upper voices entered _____ singing the same _____ in exact imitation of each other. Sources for the text of the caccia included _____ calls, _____, and _____, all set to elaborate melodies.
  • Toward the end of the 14th century, the ballata, similar to the French virelai, was also very popular in Italy.
francesco landini
Francesco Landini

Francesco Landini (1325-1397), a well known Italian composer, is well known for his ballatas.

Although Landini was blinded by smallpox in his youth, he achieved fame as a poet and a _____ on the portative organ, a small portable organ, besides writing around 140 ballate and several other secular works.

instrumental music
Instrumental Music

Musical instruments and the music played on them were very popular in the Middle Ages.

Relatively few instruments have actually survived from those early centuries, but fortunately many pictures and other representations have been well preserved, therefore allowing many instrument makers of today to make reproductions of Medieval instruments for modern-day performances.

Much instrumental music seems to have been _____, and it was not _____ with nearly the same frequency as vocal music.

Since instrumental music was not used in the Church of the middle ages, it is not surprising that far fewer examples of it remain compared to vocal religious music.

the renaissance period
The Renaissance Period

The Renaissance marked a transition from an outlook on life that was predominantly religious in orientation to one much more secular.

Life on earth, rather than the afterlife, became the focus of human endeavor in all spheres of achievement.

No longer were the people of western Europe guided solely by a mystical acceptance of divine authority. Instead, they turned to _____ and _____ _____.

To _____, to _____, to _____ the structure of reality was the passion of the Renaissance as learning reached outside the realm of the Church and religious orthodoxy.

_____ of ancient Greeks and Romans were rediscovered and came to have great influence on _____ and _____.


The modern sciences of _____ and _____ began.

New techniques and instruments for _____ and _____ were developed making travel much easier. Voyages such as those of _____, Vasco da Gama, and Magellan were launched to explore new oceans and new lands.

_____ using movable type was invented.

Artists developed techniques that enabled them to render _____ and perspective in a realistic _____.

The age of _____ was at an end. Individual creation, epitomized by the prophetic science and artistry of Leonardo da Vinci, was glorified.

The philosophical basis of this creative climate came to be known as humanism.


Later in the Renaissance, the ideas of Martin Luther and the other leaders of the Protestant Reformation had a profound influence on theological and philosophical thought.

The times were changing _____ and _____ as well.

After the Hundred Years War ( _____-_____), the Church lost much of its grip on the people’s purse’s and imaginations.

Money and _____ power were now held by _____, _____, and monarchs, as well as the Church.

The Renaissance came early to _____, whose people, at home on the soil of the ancient Romans, set out to recapture the “_____ _____” of classical antiquity.

The rulers of Italian city-states, such as the Medici of Florence and the Sforzas of Milan, sought to show off their wealth by building palaces that reflected the balance and proportion of the classical style.


In northern _____, the powerful nobles of Burgundy ruled over courts just as influential as those in Italy.

Renaissance _____ gathered huge entourages, including composers and performing musicians, to attend them at home and to travel with them wherever they went. The _____ employed the finest musicians they could obtain and afford.

The careers of many musicians thus became dependent on _____ and _____ from the nobility. This made nobility the Patrons of the Arts. This system of _____ lasted into the early nineteenth century.

New musical styles that we associate with the Renaissance evolved in the early _____ century in the work of Burgundian and English composers.

Even though musical styles continued to change, music of most of the _____ century and all of the _____ century is generally thought of as the Renaissance in music.

general characteristics of renaissance music
General Characteristics of Renaissance Music

Music was skillfully woven into nearly every aspect of court life.

Private religious services, _____, processions through the city, _____, and _____ all called for accompaniment by elegantly dressed performers. Special occasions, such as _____, _____, _____, masquerades, and _____, required larger musical forces. Thus, music was an important part of daily life in the Renaissance.

Instrumental music was widely used, but vocal music is much more prominent in the notated music that has survived.

_____, very singable ones, were often used in _____.

general characteristics of renaissance music1
General Characteristics of Renaissance Music

Four different voice parts became standard, and the use of imitation became increasingly popular.

Harmony was still based on the Church _____, but during the Renaissance, composers became increasingly concerned with expressing the meaning of the text. This led to greater freedom and ingenuity in the use of _____ sounds.

While some of the types and forms of music used in the Middle Ages continued to be in use, a number of new ones evolved as composers sought new ways to express themselves.

The techniques of polyphonic writing were developed to a high peak of excellence during the _____ and _____ centuries.

new developments in polyphony
New Developments in Polyphony

13th-14th Century polyphony:

Medieval polyphony was most often performed by soloists, each singing a _____ vocal part. The number of vocal parts was generally _____ or _____, and they were confined to a fairly narrow range of pitches. Within this range, the melodic lines often crossed making it necessary to make the different parts contrast as much as possible.

The parts were given contrasting _____, _____, and sometimes texts, so that the listener could tell them apart.

Voices or instruments were often chosen for their contrasting _____ to make it easier to hear the different parts.


15th Century polyphony:

Each part of a polyphonic work came to be sung by more than one voice which added greater depth to the sound of polyphony.

By the late _____ century, four parts had become the normal number for a _____ work, resulting in very full sounding _____.

With these changes came an expansion of the overall range of the vocal parts.

Melodic lines crossed much less often, as each part tended to have its own range. The same thematic material was frequently assigned to all the voices.

_____ continued to be used as a _____ for new compositions. A _____ of chant might still be used in the tenor, with the note values lengthened. The phrase might appear in the top voce as well or even wander from line to line, taking on new rhythmic identities in each line.


The use of _____ became very prominent. A theme would be stated first by one voice, then repeated, either exactly or with modification, by the other voices. Even when it underwent numerous changes, the _____ acted to unify the piece.

The attitude toward _____ changed greatly during the Renaissance. Much of the dissonance in Medieval music resulted from the fact that compositions were often built up in layers.

A composer begins with a complete line, usually a tenor taken from plainchant, and wrote another line to go with it. Later, the original composer or a new composer would add a third line, relating it to the tenor according to certain rules, but paying little attention to the second line. This process would cause lots of _____.

individual creativity
Individual Creativity

For both composers and artists, the Renaissance brought glorification of individual creativity.

Michelangelo’s is one of these artists. Two concepts central to much of his work are embodied in the statue David: titanic yet human energy driven by divine inspiration.

the renaissance in the north
The Renaissance in the North

In the painting and sculpture of northern Europe, Renaissance humanism was fused with theology.

Grunewald’s Incarnation makes use of many of the lessons of _____ art, but the vision remain essentially Medieval. Intense light fills the panel, and the colors are iridescent, almost unearthly.

the italian renaissance
The Italian Renaissance

In the Italian cities where the Renaissance began great emphasis was placed on humanism– on human values and the ideals of Classical _____ and _____.

Raphael’s School of Athens is the most complete and perfect pictorial statement of humanistic ideals achieved during the _____ Renaissance.

renaissance music1
Renaissance Music

Careful use of Dissonance

In the 15thcentury, composers began to treat dissonance more systematically. _____ became a special effect, to be used before cadences, at dramatic moments, and in general, on weak beats. It could occur on _____ beats, but only with careful preparation followed by resolution.

Text Painting

The relationship of music to words changed greatly during the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, _____ were generally fitted to music with little or no regard for the musical possibilities implies by the _____. In _____ many Renaissance composers became very alert to the general _____ and _____ of a text, choosing a _____, melodic materials, and _____ appropriate to the _____.

Text painting is when __________________________________________.

renaissance religious music
Renaissance Religious Music

In the 15th century, the _____ changed gradually from a work that had both _____ and _____ texts to one that was mainly religious.

The _____ and the _____, sharing a common musical style, were the most important types of religious music during the Renaissance.

With the Reformation in the early 16thcentury, _____ became very important in the newly _____ areas of Europe. These hymns were written to reflect Protestant _____ and provide melodies for congregations to sing together in _____ during services.

religious music of the early and mid renaissance
Religious Music of the Early and Mid-Renaissance

Guillaume Dufay (1400- 1474)




religious music of the early and mid renaissance1
Religious Music of the Early and Mid-Renaissance

Johannes Ockeghem (c.1410-c.1497)




religious music of the early and mid renaissance2
Religious Music of the Early and Mid-Renaissance

Josquin des Prez (c.1440-1521)




music of the reformation
Music of the Reformation
  • The Reformation, which aroused 16th century Europe to such bloody strife, was an attempt to make _____ and _____ changes and to correct abuses of power in the Catholic Church.
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • Chorale– the hymn of the Protestant Church
  • John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • At the Council of Trent (1545-1563) some attempts were made to control polyphony. Some wanted such “scandalous noise” banned from the services on the grounds that it obscured _____ texts, but others objected. Special performances of polyphonic masterpieces finally persuaded the council that _____ should remain as long as the _____ clearly presented.
music of the reformation1
Music of the Reformation

Martin Luther

John Calvin

religious music of the late renaissance
Religious Music of the late Renaissance

The new interest in _____ found among Renaissance composers had a major effect upon all forms of vocal music.

The _____ of Roland de Lassus, known also by the Italian from of his name, Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594), are rich in expressive devices used to display words with great feeling.

His great contemporary Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1524-1594) wrote most of his music for the _____ Church, and embodies many of the ideas of the Council of Trent. He handled _____ carefully, avoided chromaticism, and sculpted his melodies so that rising and descending curves balance each other. His music represents a classical peak of late _____ style, reflecting the ideas of the Counter-_____ in its _____, abstraction, and clear _____ of _____ texts.

religious music of the late renaissance1
Religious Music of the Late Renaissance

The Venetian School

Venice developed a style that reflected the city’s important as a center of _____ and _____, and its love of ceremony, grandeur, and color display.

The Venetian style of music, which had its origins in the music written for services at the St. Mark’s Basilica (San Marco), used groups of both _____ and _____. St. Mark’s was built in the form of a Greek cross, with choir lofts at either side, two _____,, and used a ensemble of strings and wind instruments. Due to the availability of these musical resources, composers experimented with antiphony.


Antiphony is ______________________________________.

Two composers used this style very successfully:



The English counterpart of the Flemish Lassus and the Italian Palestrina was William Byrd (1543-1623).



secular music of the renaissance1
Secular Music of the Renaissance

During the late 15th century, music-making occupied much of the same time that we today spend on popular past times. People on the upper classes were expected to acquire some sort of musical skill. As _____ and _____ developed the size of the middle class grew, so did the demand for music that could be played and enjoyed at home.

The art of printing music from type both encouraged and chronicled this state of affairs. It began in _____ when OttavianodeiPetruccie (1466-1539)of Venice issued the Odhecaton (“Hundred Songs”). Over time, printing methods became much faster and cheaper. Soon publishers were supplying books for _____, private collector, and the growing _____ class.

secular music of the renaissance2
Secular Music of the Renaissance



Two trends—one literary and the other musical—culminated in the 16th century Italian madrigal.



Madrigal Composers in Italy:

Luca Marenzio (1553-1599)

Carlo Gesualdo (1560-1613)

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

The madrigal reached a new peak in England too.

Madrigal Composers in England:

William Byrd and Thomas Morley (1557-1602)