Music In Middle Ages Essay Research Paper

Music In Middle Ages Essay, Research Paper

The middle ages, (450- 1450), after the Roman empire fell this was a time of

great change through chaos. The later part of the middle ages brought a period

of growth with religious structures and universities. Most of society in the

beginning of this era was influenced by the Roman Catholic church. During the

middle ages the Roman Catholic church?s official music was the Gregorian

chant, named after Pope Gregory I. This music was sung without instruments, set

to sacred Latin texts. It was without meter, and a little sense of beat. The

sound of this chant resulted in the unfamiliar scale also called, church mode.

Music outside the church also greatly attributed to this era. These songs were

usually preformed on court minstrels. Most of these compositions were about

love, the crusades, dance songs, and spinning songs. Most of these songs had a

regular meter and a clearly defined beat, unlike the Gregorian chant. In the

middle ages music was mostly monophonic, however, between 700- 900 the first

steps were taken to transform music. Monks in monastery choirs began to add a

second melodic line to the Gregorian chant. This music was called organum.

Between 900- 1200, organum became polyphonic, and the melody added to the chant

became more independent. From about 1170- 1200, Notre Dame composers developed

rhythmic innovations. They used measured rhythm with definite time and clearly

defined meters. A chant used as a basis for polyphony is known as a cantus

firmus (fixed melody). Near the end of this era, the church weakened after many

suffrages, such as The Hundred Year War and the Bubonic plague. In this time

secular music held more importance than sacred music. A new system of musical

notations had emerged, and a composer could specify any rhythmic pattern. Now

beats could be divided and sometimes use syncopation. The middle ages are not

all that different from any other era. As in each era music has often been

representative of society and the times.


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