History of Medieval Era of Music




in the diatonic scale starting on C:
thus making the following pattern:
C (w) D (w) E (h) F (w) G (w) A
G (w) A (w) B (h) C (w) D (w) E
F (w) G (w) A (h) B-flat (w) C (w) D
    1.  Dorian: finalis on D, tenor on A 
    3.  Phrygian: finalis on E, tenor on C 
    5.  Lydian: finalis on F, tenor on C
    7.  Mixolydian: finalis on G, tenor on D
    2.  Hypodorian: finalis on D, tenor on F 
    4.  Hypophrygian: finalis on E, tenor on A 
    6.  Hypolydian: finalis on F, tenor on A 
    8.  Hypomixolydian: finalis on G, tenor on C
Table 1 -- The Medieval Church Modes
Medieval Secular Music, Secular Monody, and Instrumental Music


  • Polyphony: 'multivoiced' or multipart music in which the parts are treated independently of each other, but put together they make one musical texture

    1.  Early Organum: 10th-11th cc.

  • 9th century music treatises mentioning the word organum:
    1. Musica enchiriadis, 'Music Handbook', anonymous treatise
    2. Scolica enchiriadis, 'Excerpts from Handbook', a dialogue associated with Musica enchiriadis, illustrating and describing diaphony, 'singing together' (Gr. dia, 'through', and phonos), and naming it organum
    3. Guido d'Arezzo's Micrologus (see above)
  • Scolica enchiriadis mentions two kinds of diaphony or organum:
    1. Vox principalis, the 'main or principal voice', part
    2. Vox organalis, the accompanying 'organal voice', part, duplicating the main melody, vox principalis, a fourth or fifth below
  • Either voice may be duplicated in octaves
  • Strict parallelism in fourths would occasionally lead to tritonus, tritone, i.e. augmented fourth, an interval which consists of three whole tones, also known as diabolus in musica, the 'devil in music' (see the discussion on tenor in the Church Modes, above).  To avoid this, the line of vox organalis was not allowed to proceed in its downward movement, paralleling the melodic line of vox principalis -- it would rather stay on the same pitch, making an interval of third
  • Voice movements in organum:
    1. Parallel: =
    2. Oblique: /_
    3. Contrary: < or >

    Ars Antiqua -- The 'Old Art'

    3.  Notre Dame Organum -- Northern French Polyphony: 12th c.

  • 12th to mid-14th centuries:
  • 1160: cornerstone of the cathedral Notre Dame ('Our Lady') was laid in Paris
  • Notre Dame became the center of organum polyphony which became known as the Notre Dame organum or as French organum
  • Notre Dame organum may be understood as the further development of the Aquitanian florid organum (see above) and its northern French adaptation

  • Rhythmic Modes
  • Two early composers of the French organum:
    1. Léonin, in Latin also known as Leoninus (ca. 1135-1201)
    2. Pérotin, also known as Perotinus (1180-ca. 1238)

    Léonin (Leoninus, ca. 1135-1201): Organum duplum

  • Magnus liber organi, "The Great Book of Organum"
  • Clausula

    Franconian Motet
    Amour mi font / En mai / Flos filius eius
    Triplum Loving makes me wrongly suffer pain
    because my lady, who has killed me,
    does not deign while I am in misery
    to comfort me.
    And if I always served her very well
    I certainly never lied to her.
    That I am entirely at her mercy, I don't deny
    and so I wish from now on to be in her good graces
    and every day I clasp my hands and cry for pity
    O Lord, that she grant me mercy.
    Amour mi font souffrir peine a tort
    Car ma dame, qui m'a mort
    Ne me daigne des maus, qu'ai por li
    Douner confort.
    Et si l'ai toz jours mout bien servi
    N'ainc certes ne li menti.
    Ains sui toz a son voloir, ne l'en desdi,
    Et ainsi voeil estre ades a son acort
    Et toz dis a jointes mains li cri merci,
    Pour Dieu, qu'ele le deignast avoir de mi.
    Motetus / Duplum In May, when the rose blooms
    and I hear the birds sing
    I like by whatever means
    to strive for joy.
    This is it; I want to love.
    I don't believe
    that she yet knows
    where my pains of love come from,
    that will slay me.
    Never in my life
    have I known love's pleasure,
    but if I don't have your help,
    your love, your solace,
    brunette without lover,
    you will have killed me.
    En mai, quant rose est florie
    Que j'oi ces oisiaus chanter
    Moi covient par druerie
    Joie demener
    C'est la fin, je vuoil amer
    Et si ne croi mie
    Qu'ele sache ja
    Dont[t] vient li maus d'amer
    Qui m'ocirra
    Qu'onques en ma vie
    D'amors n'ai deport
    Mes se je n'ai vostre aie
    Vostre amor, vostre confort
    Brunete sans ami
    Vos m'aves mort
    Tenor Flos filius eius
     Table 1 -  Motet text
    (taken from Palisca 1996, NAWM 1: 74)

    1.  The Franconian Motet: The second half of the 13th century

  • Franco of Cologne, the second half of the 13th century (ca. 1250-1280)
  • 2.  The Petronian Motet: The late 13th century

  •  Pierre de la Croix, or Petrus de Cruce, the late 13th century (ca. 1270-1300)
  • Intervallic and 'Harmonic' Material in the 13th century Motet
  • 3.  Hocketus -- Hocket: The 13th and 14th centuries

  • The fast tempo style of motet performance using the technique of hocket, Fr. hoquet, 'hiccup'
  • The hocket technique uses rests to interrupt the continuous flow of melody in various motet parts, creating an effect of pulsating polyphonic texture
  • Notation: 13th century

  • Franco of Cologne codified a new system of notation, also known as Franconian Notation, fixing rhythmical durations which were absent from the neumatic notation
  • The Fourteenth Century Arts and Literature

    II.  Trecento -- 14th Century Italy

  • It. trecento, short for mille trecento, 'one thousand three hundred', i.e. 1300s or the 14th century
  • Polyphony in 14th century Italy was more of the secular character intended for entertaining elite classes of Italian society

  • The Church Stance towards the use of music and polyphony in the Mass:
  • Centers of Trecento Music Squarcialupi Codex

    1.  The Madrigal: 14th century

    Jacopo da Bologna: 14th century

    The Late 14th Century in France

    I.  ENGLAND: 15th century

    II.  BURGUNDY (Fr. Bourgogne): 15th century

  • in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, Burgundy was a vassal duchy and county in east-central France, under the rule of French kings
  • Burgundy patronized not only a series of outstanding musicians from the northern area of Europe, but also two famous painters, the brothers van Eyck, Hubert and Jan
  • this constellation contributed to further development of international style which now included not only Italian composers or northern composers working in Italy, but also the English ones, such as Dunstable
  • Musical Forms:
    1. Mass
    2. Magnificat
    3. Motet
    4. Chanson
    5. Ballade
  • Cadence:
  • Rhythm:
  • 1. Gilles Binchois (c. 1400-1460)

    Types of the 15th century Masses:
    • Missa Choralis or Plainsong Mass
      • each movement from the Ordinary would have a separate plainchant taken from the Graduale
      • this was a liturgical and not a musical unity of the Mass
    • Motto Missa
      • beginnings of each movement would have the same melodic motive, 'motto', usually in the treble, which gave the Mass a partial musical unity
    • Cantus Firmus Missa or Tenor Missa
      • this type of the Mass had all movements with the same cantus firmus, i.e. same plainchant melody in the tenor

    • Voices:
      • since the tenor was the fundament of the 14th century motet, its plainchant melody was moving slowly in long-held notes
      • the four-part structure
        1. Contratenor bassus -- in order to make the tenor melody more flexible and yet have a fundament, another voice, below the tenor, was added, called the contratenor bassus, and later simply bassus, today's bass
        2. Tenor
        3. Contratenor altus -- a voice above the tenor, also known as the altus
        4. Cantus or discantus or superious -- the highest voice

    • Music Example  -- Ballade & Missa (NRAWM CD2:13, 14-19 [CD1:25, 26-31])
      • Se la face ay pale, "If my face is pale," by Guillaume Dufay
        1. Ballade
        2. Gloria from the Missa
      • Music analysis:
        • for this Mass, Dufay used the tenor melody of his ballade, Se la face ay pale, making it the cantus firmus
        • the tenor is then heard or melodically and rhythmically recognizable in several movements of the Mass
        • 'Rational Control' of Dissonaance and Consonance