Part II: The Middle Ages

Middle Ages (450 14 50)
Rome sacked by vandals 455
Beowulf c.700
First Crusade 1066
Black Death 1387 1400
Joan of Arc executed by English 1431

The Middle Ages
A thousand years of European history
Early a time of migrations, upheavals, and wars
Later a period of cultural growth
Romanesque churches and monasteries; Gothic cathedrals

Class Distinctions
Nobility sheltered in fortified castles; knights in armor; amused themselves with hunting, feasting, and tournaments.
Peasants: vast majority of population; lived miserably; subject to freudal overlords.
Clergy: Roman Catholic Church, exerted power; monk held a virtual monopoly on learning. Most Powerful.

Music in Middle Ages
Church was the center of musical life
Important musicians were priest
Women were not allowed to sing in church, but did make music in convents.
Only Sacred Music Was Noted
Music was primarily vocal and sacred
Instruments were not used in church (very uncommon)
Few medieval instruments have survived
Music manuscripts did not indicate tempo, dynamics, or rhythm (only pitched noted)










Gregorian Chant
Official music of the Roman Catholic Church
o No longer common since 2nd Vatican councils (1962-1965)
Characteristics
o Monophonic texture (Always)
o Always set to Latin text
o Melodies tend to move by steps (avoid skips and leaps)
o Relatively narrow range
o Flexible rhythm: without meter and sense of beat
o Named for Pope Gregory 1st (r. 590-600)

 Anonymous, Alleluia: Vidimus Stellam, N/A
 Hildegard of Bingen, O Successores, N/A

Secular Music in the Middle Ages
Composed by French nobles who were poet-musicians
o Troubadours (Southern France)
o Trouveres (Northern France)
Performed traveling minstrels
o Jongleurs
Song Topics
o Love
o Crusades
o Dancing
Instrumental Dances
N/A, Estampie, N/A
o Strong beat (For Dance)
o Single melody is notated
o Performers improvised
 Instrumental accompaniment
The Development of Polyphony
The first example of polyphony is called organum (organi)
Between 700 & 900, a 2nd melody line was added to chant
o Additional part initially improvised, not written
o Paralleled chant line at a different pitch
900 to 1,200, the added line grew more independent
o Developed its own melodic curve (no longer parallel)
o C.110 note-against-note motion abandoned
 2 lines with individual rhythmic and melodic content
 New part, in top voice, moved faster than the chant line



The Development of Polyphony
The School of Notre Dame (Paris)
o Leonin and Perotin
 2 main composers of organum who developed a system of notating precise rhythms
 Their music was among the first to have measured rhythm
o Medieval theorist considered interval of 3rd as dissonant

 Perotin, Alleluia Nativitas, N/A
o Cantus firmus: based on existing chant melody

14th Century Music
Italy and France experienced significant changes
Changes in musical style known as the ars nova (latin for new art)
Secular music more important than sacred
o Secular music was now commonly notated
New music notation system evolved
o Beats could be subdivided into 2 as well as 3
Previously divided only by 3 to reference holy trinity
o Divided by 3, perfect notation
o Divided by 2, imperfect notation
Syncopation became an important rhythmic practice
 Landini, Ecco la primavera, N/A

Guillaume De Machaut