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History Of Music

The Middle Ages

Course Outline
About your Teacher
Musical Links
Introduction to the Class
What is Classical Music?
Elements of Music
The Middle Ages
The Renaissance
The Baroque
Take home Work
The Classicism
The Romanticism
Contact Me

History, Music and Arts


Middle Ages: (450-1450

            The Middle Ages refers to a period of European history spanning from about 450 to 1450. During the middle ages, there were two important artistic periods:

                        -The Romanesque (1000-1150)

                        -The Gothic (1150-1450)

            The period of history also known as The Dark ages in Europe began about 450 with the disintegration of the Roman Empire.


            During the middle ages, most important musicians were priests. Avirtual monopoly on learning was held by monks in monasteries.


            -During the middle ages, women were not permitted to sign in church.

            -An important women composer of the Middle Ages was Hildegard of Bingen. She is the first woman composer to leave a large number of works that have survived. Hildegard of Bingen was an abbess of the convent at Rupertsberg, she was a visionary and mystic active in religious and diplomatic affairs. She composed the earliest extant liturgical moraity play, Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues).



            -Most medieval music was vocal.


            -The view of the later medieval church on music during religious services was that it should be used as a discreet accompaniment.

            -The Gregorian Chant: was the official music of the Roman Catholic church for more than 1,000 years.

-It is set to sacred texts.

-The Gregorian Chant retained some elements of the Jewish synagogue of the first centuries after Christ.

-The Gregorian Chant is monophonic in texture a melody sung without accompaniment.

-It conveys a calm, otherworldly quality.

-Its rhythm is flexible, without meter.

-Its melodies tend to move stepwise within a narrow range of pitches.

-The Gregorian Chant is named after Pope Gregory I. Pope Gregory the Great reorganized the liturgy of the Catholic church during his reign from 590 to 604He organized and edit them. Because of that, he was credited by medieval legend with having created it, even though it evolved over many centuries.

-The earliest surviving chant manuscript date from about the ninth century.

            The Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 decreed the use of the vernacular in church services. Because of that the Gregorian Chant is seldom heard today.


Church Modes: They were the basic scales of western music during the Middle Ages. They are like the major and minor scales in that they consist of seven tones and an eight tone that duplicates the first an octave higher.



            -We know from paintings and literary descriptions that instruments were used.


-During the Middle Ages, the organ was a prominent church instrument. At first, this instrument was a primitive instrument whose keys were operated by heavy blows of the fist.