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Music in the Middle Ages

Designed for 9-12 Survey of Fine Arts

Matt Inman

on 12 September 2013

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Transcript of Music in the Middle Ages

• Developed from Greek accents as a guide for remembering learned melodies.
Gregorian Chant
• The Catholic church was the center of writing, learning, and art for many centuries.
450-1450 CE
Music in the Middle Ages
• Many different chant dialects
existed, but 8th and 9th century
church leaders made this one a
most permanent fixture.
• Also called "liturgical chant" or "plainsong"
• Initially monophonic, later polyphonic
• Antiphonal (two choirs)
• Or responsorial (soloist and choir)
• Named for Pope Gregory I.
• Legend goes that the holy
spirit appeared to Gregory as
a dove and dictated the chant.
• Though he may have had an influence
on the development of this dialect,
modern scholars dismiss the idea of him
as a composer.
• Became Neumes
• Added staves and clefs
• And a fifth line
• Jongleurs
• Trouvers
• Meistersingers
Key Points
• Sacred music was monophonic for a very long time.
• Melodies were modal.
• Isorhythmic technique considered
rhythm (talea) and melody (color)
Ars Nova
Ars Antiqua
Guillame de Machaut
Polyphonic plainchant
• Initially a "vox organalis" improvised a 4th or 5th below the "vox principalis"
• Later, parts were added above the "cantus firmus," which became the "tenor" once parts were moved below it.
• Organum used "isorhythm."
• Religous ideology extended deeply into musical composition
• The tri-tone (4+ or 5˚) was considered "the devil's interval" and avoided
• The three-part trinity led the church to define triple meter as perfect and duple as imperfect
• Rhythm = talea
• Melody = color
• This "measured rhythm" enabled sequences of durations and pitches to be repeated, even when they don't line up.
• Later: troubadors and
• Later: minnesingers
• Credited with beginning the Notre Dame School of composition.
• One of, if not the, first composers whose name is preserved with his/her works.
• Used six rhythmic patterns, which he would indicate at the beginning of a piece.
• Leonin's student
• First known composer of four-part polyphony
Four-part organum is called "quadruplum," and three-part is called "triplum."
Traveling Entertainers
• Goliards
• Songs of [unrequited] love, morals, mockery, drinking, gaming
• Structural forms of motet, estampie, ballata, rondeau
• With the original chant material as the bottom, tenor voice, other sacred text could be applied to the parts above.
• The church accepted this as long as the original chant melody remained unchanged.
• Secular text began to replace sacred text.
• Counterpoint truly began to develop within this form.
• The most celebrated of Ars Nova composers
• Composed much more secular than sacred music
• Including over 100 "formes fixes" works
• Contributed to proliferation of more precise rhythmic notation
• Notable "Messe de Notre Dame"
Early Middle Ages
• Motets began as sacred but quickly became a secular feature
• Led by the Notre Dame School
• Polyphony expanded to enable four parts
Ars Antiqua
• Composers of secular work increased in notability
• Rhythmic complexity increased
• Vertical, harmonic integration considered more
Ars Nova
• Philippe de Vitry (1291-1361)
• French, significant Ars Nova leader
• Francesco Landini (1324-1397)
• Italian, one of the first in the region to explore polyphony in the late 14th
• John Dunstable (1390-1453)
• English, used the mediant (3rd) more than others
Hildegard von Bingen
• Composed longer and more ethereal melismatic melodies than contemporaries
• Known as a religious visionary
ca. 1300-1377
Historical Context
• Great Schism of 1054
• Eastern (Constantinople) and Western (Rome) church leaders excommunicated each other
• The Crusades (1095-1291)
• Western conquering of the Holy Land, which were then recaptured by Muslim forces
• The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453)
• Between England and France
• Almost ended with 1360 Treaty of Calais
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