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History of Medieval Era of Music


  • that era of music preceding the Renaissance era of music, ie. 11thC to end of 14thC
  • Catholic sacred music dominated by Gregorian chant form (also called plainsong) sung by choirs which originated in 6thC by Pope Gregory

new instruments:

  • medieval psaltery:
    • a plucked string instrument which was precursor of the harpsichord
  • mandola:
    • a small ancestor of the European lute, possibly developed in 9thC
    • became popular in England at end of 14thC
    • ancestor of the mandolin
  • European lute:
    • whilst the 'long lute' dates back to at least 2000BC & the 'short lute' from 800BC, it was transformed into the European lute with distinct neck & central soundhole, probably in Spain in 14thC

new music styles:

  • conductus:
    • metrical Latin song, sacred or secular, usually for 2 or 3 voices, originating in France in 12thC
    • superseded by motet in 13thC (see Renaissance)
  • lai, lay:
    • 13th & 14thC French song form consisting of 12 unequal stanzas sung to different tunes
  • ars antiqua:
    • medieval western European music style based on plainsong & organum, employed by composers (esp. Leonin, Perotin) of the Notre Dame or Parisian schools in 12th & 13thC.
  • ars nova:
    • 14thC French & Italian new style of music with restrictions of ars antiqua replaced by greater variety of rhythm, duple instead of triple time, and increased independence in part-writing.
    • developed into the madrigal in Renaissance times


  • Machaut, Guillaume de (c1300-1377):
    • French composer, cleric, poet & diplomat
    • outstanding practitioner of ars nova & among 1st to compose polyphonic setting of petry in fixed forms (ballade, rondeau & virelai)
    • among the last to compose in the medieval forms of lai & dit
    • music compositions:
      • Messe de Notre Dame
      • Voir Dit
      • 23 motets



history/h_musmed1.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/18 00:55 by gary1

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