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Music in the Middle Ages
Medieval Music Difficulties
Least surviving material
Longest period of music history
476-1475 Middle Ages
1475-1600 Renais...
Sacred Music
Music in the Monastery
Sacred music preserved in much greater
quantities than secular
The Church was the only real source ...
Neumes
Early chant notation
Small symbols written above text
Did not originally indicate a specific pitch
Evolved into sys...
Early Neumatic Notation
Square Neumes on 4-Line Staff
Visit http://www.netaxs.com/~rmk/Chant/ for help reading neumatic notation
Gregorian Chant
Named for Pope Gregory the Great (540-604)
Also known as Plainsong or Plainchant
Single line melody (monop...
Modes
Modes were the scale patterns of Western
European music through the Renaissance
Music composed using modes is called...
The Medieval Modes:
This is for your information & will not be on a test
 Dorian
 Hypodorian
 Phrygian
 Hypophrygian
...
Text Settings
Syllabic
 One note per text syllable
Neumatic
 Two – four notes per text syllable
Melismatic
 Long groups...
Example of Melismas
Listening Example
Title: Gradual Viderunt Omnes
Composer: Anonymous (5th century)
Genre: Gregorian Chant
Notes on Gradual Viderunt
Omnes
Monophonic texture
Alternation of soloist and choir (male)
Mixture of text settings
 Most...
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
10th child of noble parents, raised in convent
Founded her own convent in 1150
Experienced...
Listening Example
Title: O Rubor Sanguinis
Composer: Hildegard of Bingen
Genre: Gregorian Chant
Notes on O Rubor Sanguinis
Monophonic texture
Sung by women
Predominantly neumatic text setting
Very smooth melodic contou...
Music in the Cathedral
Monasteries focused on traditional chant
Urban cathedrals were centers of musical
innovation
Compos...
Polyphony Defined
Polyphony literally means “many voices”
Two or more melodic lines sung at once
Polyphony
Extremely important development in
Western Music
Meter, notation, and composer’s role are all
affected by this d...
Organum
Begins as improvised, parallel 4ths & 5ths
Second line of basically follows the chant –
no new, independent musica...
Notre Dame Style Organum
Notes of original chant tune “stretched” or
held out
 Tenor comes from Latin word meaning hold
...
Leoninus and Perotinus
Composers at Cathedral of Notre Dame
Leoninus (fl. 1169-1201)
 First polyphonic composer known by ...
Listening Example
Title: Viderunt Omnes
Composer: Perotinus
Genre: Organum
Notes on Viderunt Omnes
 Three active upper voices over sustained lower
voice
 The upper voices feature LONG melismas
 ...
The Medieval Motet
Evolved out of 13th century organum
French word for “word:” “mot”
New texts added to upper organum voic...
Medieval Motet Structure
Chant tune provides structural foundation
 Chant tune held, but not as long as in organum
 Teno...
The Mass
Central worship service of Catholic Church
Mass texts divided into two categories
 The Proper
 Texts that vary ...
Guillaume de Machaut
Dates: ca. 1300-1377
Worked in both sacred and secular worlds
 Secretary to John I, King of Bohemia
...
Guillaume de Machaut
Ca. 400 poems and 150 compositions
Composed both secular and sacred music
Best known for composing th...
Listening Example
Title: Kyrie from Messe de Nostre Dame
Composer: Guillaume de Machaut
Genre: Mass
Notes on Kyrie
Built on preexisting chant, notes held out
 He then adds three new voices against the tenor
 Contratenor ...
Rise of Music at Court
Early middle ages: Church is primary patron
of music
Late middle ages: Nobles increasingly
sponsor ...
Court Poet-Musicians
Troubadours – Southern France
 Troubadours (male, common or noble)
 Trobairitz (female, noble)
Both...
Courtly Poetry
Range of subject matter
 Simple ballads/love songs
 War stories
 Moral tales
Chivalric values
 Honor
 ...
Courtly Love
Idealized love
Variety of relationships described
 Inspired to acts of chivalric valor
 Unattainable object...
Women at Court
Women not allowed to sing at church
Women regularly composed and performed
at court
Played the soft instrum...
Troubador Songs
Early songs usually monphonic
Sometimes with instrumental doubling
No clear rhythm or meter
Later medieval...
Beatriz, Countess of Dia
Trobairitz in S. France in mid-12th century
to early 13th century
A Chantar M'er is the only trob...
Listening Example
Title: A Chantar M’er
Composer: Beatriz, Countess of Dia
Genre: Troubador song
Notes on I Must Sing
Song of unrequited love
Full first line:
 “I must sing of that which I’d rather not…”
Five strophes ...
Medieval Chanson
Chanson is French for “song”
Chansons are always secular
They feature polyphonic texture
 2-4 voices
 C...
Fixed Forms
Poetic meters governed musical structure
Three most common forms:
 Rondeau
 Ballade
 Virelai
Rondeau featur...
Guillaume Dufay (c1397-1474)
Probably born near Brussels
Involved in church music from early age
Was ordained a priest by ...
Listening Example
Title: Ce Moys de May
Composer: Guillaume Dufay
Genre: Chanson
Notes on Ce Moys de May
Rondeau form
Listen for the repeated refrain in the music
Voices doubled by instruments
Melismas a...
Instrumental Music
Most medieval instrumental music was for
courtly entertainment (secular)
Little written instrumental mu...
Medieval Instruments
Instruments were much less standardized
than they are today
All were handmade and varied by location
...
Medieval Instruments
Shawm – double reed (oboe)
Slide trumpet – Sackbut (trombone)
Tabor (large drum)
Nakers (small drum)
...
Soft Instruments
Recorder (wooden flute)
Lute (similar to guitar but more strings)
Harp/Psaltry
Rebec & Vielle (precusor t...
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Music in the Middle Ages

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Elliot Jones, CC-BY

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Music in the Middle Ages

  1. 1. Music in the Middle Ages
  2. 2. Medieval Music Difficulties Least surviving material Longest period of music history 476-1475 Middle Ages 1475-1600 Renaissance 1600-1750 Baroque 1750-1820 Classical 1825-1900 Romantic 1900-2000 Modern
  3. 3. Sacred Music
  4. 4. Music in the Monastery Sacred music preserved in much greater quantities than secular The Church was the only real source of education/literacy Monastic life a rigorous combination of work and prayer (sung – Gregorian Chant) Music notation develops in monasteries
  5. 5. Neumes Early chant notation Small symbols written above text Did not originally indicate a specific pitch Evolved into system of square notes
  6. 6. Early Neumatic Notation
  7. 7. Square Neumes on 4-Line Staff Visit http://www.netaxs.com/~rmk/Chant/ for help reading neumatic notation
  8. 8. Gregorian Chant Named for Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) Also known as Plainsong or Plainchant Single line melody (monophonic) Free of accent or meter Conjunct movement  Avoids leaps  Gentle contour
  9. 9. Modes Modes were the scale patterns of Western European music through the Renaissance Music composed using modes is called “modal” (as opposed to “tonal”) Modes sound less familiar to our ears than major/minor tonal scales
  10. 10. The Medieval Modes: This is for your information & will not be on a test  Dorian  Hypodorian  Phrygian  Hypophrygian  Lydian  Hypolydian  Mixolydian  Hypomixolydian For more extensive information on modes click here
  11. 11. Text Settings Syllabic  One note per text syllable Neumatic  Two – four notes per text syllable Melismatic  Long groups of notes per text syllable
  12. 12. Example of Melismas
  13. 13. Listening Example Title: Gradual Viderunt Omnes Composer: Anonymous (5th century) Genre: Gregorian Chant
  14. 14. Notes on Gradual Viderunt Omnes Monophonic texture Alternation of soloist and choir (male) Mixture of text settings  Mostly neumatic with some long melismas Very smooth melodic contour (conjunct) Note the free rhythm and lack of meter A gradual from the proper of the Mass
  15. 15. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) 10th child of noble parents, raised in convent Founded her own convent in 1150 Experienced and recorded visions Scivias is the 1st book of her writings Wrote religious poetry and music
  16. 16. Listening Example Title: O Rubor Sanguinis Composer: Hildegard of Bingen Genre: Gregorian Chant
  17. 17. Notes on O Rubor Sanguinis Monophonic texture Sung by women Predominantly neumatic text setting Very smooth melodic contour (conjunct) Note the lack of a regular beat Text is not from the Mass  Hildegard wrote the text
  18. 18. Music in the Cathedral Monasteries focused on traditional chant Urban cathedrals were centers of musical innovation Composers began to make greater use of polyphony
  19. 19. Polyphony Defined Polyphony literally means “many voices” Two or more melodic lines sung at once
  20. 20. Polyphony Extremely important development in Western Music Meter, notation, and composer’s role are all affected by this development Early polyphony generally consisted of parallel lines This early polyphony was called organum
  21. 21. Organum Begins as improvised, parallel 4ths & 5ths Second line of basically follows the chant – no new, independent musical lines Gradually musicians begin to compose brand new melodies to accompany the chant Composers at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris perfect this new style of organum
  22. 22. Notre Dame Style Organum Notes of original chant tune “stretched” or held out  Tenor comes from Latin word meaning hold  The line that contained the elongated chant was called the tenor Newly composed material sung above chant Use of rhythmic modes (eg. long-short-long) Leoninus and Perotinus
  23. 23. Leoninus and Perotinus Composers at Cathedral of Notre Dame Leoninus (fl. 1169-1201)  First polyphonic composer known by name  Two-voice organum  Magnus liber organi Perotinus (fl. 1198-1236)  Successor to Leoninus  Wrote up to four-voice organum
  24. 24. Listening Example Title: Viderunt Omnes Composer: Perotinus Genre: Organum
  25. 25. Notes on Viderunt Omnes  Three active upper voices over sustained lower voice  The upper voices feature LONG melismas  Listen for the held notes of the original chant  Notice the rhythmic mode in the upper voice  Repeated long-short pattern resembles triple meter  Open, hollow-sounding cadences  Cadences are the endings of musical phrases
  26. 26. The Medieval Motet Evolved out of 13th century organum French word for “word:” “mot” New texts added to upper organum voices Polytextual: texts could be different  Different words  Different languages  Sacred or secular
  27. 27. Medieval Motet Structure Chant tune provides structural foundation  Chant tune held, but not as long as in organum  Tenor – Latin for “to hold” is “tenere”  Triple meter representing Trinity  Tenor can be sung or played
  28. 28. The Mass Central worship service of Catholic Church Mass texts divided into two categories  The Proper  Texts that vary from day to day  Viderunt omnes is a Gradual from the Proper  The Ordinary  Texts that are always the same  See page 75 for chart of Proper vs. Ordinary
  29. 29. Guillaume de Machaut Dates: ca. 1300-1377 Worked in both sacred and secular worlds  Secretary to John I, King of Bohemia  Served in court of Charles, Duke of Normandy  Served as canon of cathedral at Rheims Poet and composer Admired by Geoffrey Chaucer
  30. 30. Guillaume de Machaut Ca. 400 poems and 150 compositions Composed both secular and sacred music Best known for composing the first complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass  Messe de Nostre Dame
  31. 31. Listening Example Title: Kyrie from Messe de Nostre Dame Composer: Guillaume de Machaut Genre: Mass
  32. 32. Notes on Kyrie Built on preexisting chant, notes held out  He then adds three new voices against the tenor  Contratenor superius and altus are above the tenor  Contratenor bassus is below the tenor  Contratenor parts feature greater rhythmic variety Polyphonic texture Characteristic medieval dissonance Male voices
  33. 33. Rise of Music at Court Early middle ages: Church is primary patron of music Late middle ages: Nobles increasingly sponsor music to enhance their prestige Due to their education, clergy often composed courtly poetry and music
  34. 34. Court Poet-Musicians Troubadours – Southern France  Troubadours (male, common or noble)  Trobairitz (female, noble) Both words mean “inventors” (composers) Trouvères – Northern France Minnesingers – Germany
  35. 35. Courtly Poetry Range of subject matter  Simple ballads/love songs  War stories  Moral tales Chivalric values  Honor  Valor  Idealized, or “courtly,” love
  36. 36. Courtly Love Idealized love Variety of relationships described  Inspired to acts of chivalric valor  Unattainable object of affection  Unrequited, unconsummated relationship  Illicit romance All in the general context of chivalric code
  37. 37. Women at Court Women not allowed to sing at church Women regularly composed and performed at court Played the soft instruments  Harp  Lute  Rebec  Flute
  38. 38. Troubador Songs Early songs usually monphonic Sometimes with instrumental doubling No clear rhythm or meter Later medieval songs often polyphonic This polyphony was quite simple as we hear in A Chantar M'er
  39. 39. Beatriz, Countess of Dia Trobairitz in S. France in mid-12th century to early 13th century A Chantar M'er is the only trobairitz song to survive with music intact Three other poems extant, music lost
  40. 40. Listening Example Title: A Chantar M’er Composer: Beatriz, Countess of Dia Genre: Troubador song
  41. 41. Notes on I Must Sing Song of unrequited love Full first line:  “I must sing of that which I’d rather not…” Five strophes of seven lines each Seven-line melodic form: ABABCDB Vielle alternates with singer Simple lute accompaniment
  42. 42. Medieval Chanson Chanson is French for “song” Chansons are always secular They feature polyphonic texture  2-4 voices  Combinations of voices and instruments Variety of subjects including courtly love Chansons used fixed poetic forms
  43. 43. Fixed Forms Poetic meters governed musical structure Three most common forms:  Rondeau  Ballade  Virelai Rondeau features a repeated line of text This corresponds with a repeated melody
  44. 44. Guillaume Dufay (c1397-1474) Probably born near Brussels Involved in church music from early age Was ordained a priest by 1428 Held many ecclesiastical positions Also maintained close ties to numerous courts and nobles Composed sacred and secular music
  45. 45. Listening Example Title: Ce Moys de May Composer: Guillaume Dufay Genre: Chanson
  46. 46. Notes on Ce Moys de May Rondeau form Listen for the repeated refrain in the music Voices doubled by instruments Melismas at ends of phrases Notice the irregular accents and dissonance common to medieval polyphony
  47. 47. Instrumental Music Most medieval instrumental music was for courtly entertainment (secular) Little written instrumental music survives Much of it was improvised Most instrumental music is dance music
  48. 48. Medieval Instruments Instruments were much less standardized than they are today All were handmade and varied by location The following slides list common kinds of instruments and their modern descendants
  49. 49. Medieval Instruments Shawm – double reed (oboe) Slide trumpet – Sackbut (trombone) Tabor (large drum) Nakers (small drum) Organs  Very large organs existed in large churches  Smaller portable organs could be outdoors
  50. 50. Soft Instruments Recorder (wooden flute) Lute (similar to guitar but more strings) Harp/Psaltry Rebec & Vielle (precusor to violin)

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