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MUSIC IN THE MIDDLE AGES. rt and music were critical aspects of medieval religious life and, towards the end of the Middle Ages, secular life as well.

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Presentation on theme: "MUSIC IN THE MIDDLE AGES. rt and music were critical aspects of medieval religious life and, towards the end of the Middle Ages, secular life as well."— Presentation transcript:


2 rt and music were critical aspects of medieval religious life and, towards the end of the Middle Ages, secular life as well. Singing without instrumental accompaniment was an essential part of church services. Monks and priests chanted the divine offices and the mass daily. Some churches had instruments such as organs and bells. Two people were required to play this stringed instrument--one to turn the crank and the other to play the keys. Medieval drama grew out of the church service, beginning in about the eleventh century. Some of the topics were from the Old Testament (Noah and the flood, Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion's den) and others were stories about the birth and death of Christ. These dramas were performed with costumes and musical instruments and at first took place directly outside the church. Later they were staged in marketplaces, where they were produced by local guilds.

3 A rt and M usic of the M iddle A ges Click the picture to see artwork and music from the Middle Ages

4 MUSIC NOTATION The first system of learning music was developed in the 11th century by Guido d’Arezzo (Father Guido). He assigned each note a name and designed the system of placing the notes on horizontal lines to notate pitches. This is now known as the staff. The Guidonian hand is another of his inventions, it is a system of assigning each part of the hand a certain note by pointing to a part of his hand. A group of singers would know which note was pointed out and sing the matching note.


6 POPE GREGORY Plainsong or chants (monophonic melodies performed in unison with free rhythm and unaccompanied) were also called Gregorian Chants – named after Pope Gregory A system of writing down reminders of chant melodies was probably devised by monks around 800 to aid in unifying the church service throughout the empire. The idea spread that the chant used in Rome came directly from Pope Gregory, He is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.



9 Music of the Middle Ages in the Church Click the picture to see a short scene of music in the church.

10 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW! Middle Ages or Medieval Era Plainsong or chant Pope Gregory Polyphony Gregorian Chants Latin

11 The Renaissance

12 What is the Renaissance? The Renaissance (which also means “re-birth”) was a time of great exploration in science, music, art, literature and civilization discoveries. A major change in the Christian religion occurred at this time. Various Christian groups left the Catholic church and formed some of the present-day Protestant denominations. Although the Church began to lose its influence in the lives of the people, music was still sacred. Secular music also flourished during this period. The center of musical activity gradually began to shift from the churches to castles and towns.

13 Music that was written for the church was still the most composed, secular music was becoming more common. In comparison with medieval music, Renaissance harmony (two or more melody lines singing at the same time) also known as polyphony, was more free and more expressive. Masses and motets were the main forms of spiritual vocal polyphony. Secular vocal forms included madrigals (mostly accompanied by the lute or a small orchestra). The main instrumental works were short polyphonies or music for dancing. The canzona (a song or composition that is light and fast moving) is a typical example of the popular type of songs. Palestrina was one such composer along with: William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, and Andrea and Giovanni Gabrielli.

14 Leonardo da Vinci Sandro Botticelli Michelangelo The Renaissance was a period of great creative and intellectual activity, during which artists broke away from the restrictions of Midieval artists. The same can be said for musicians!

15 Shakespeare a famous playwright from England wrote 2 plays which became famous operas: Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet Queen Isabella commissions Columbus to sail for America Gutenburg invents the printing press IMPORTANT WORLD EVENTS

16 The Impact of the Printing Press The composers of the Renaissance, unlike the medieval composers emphasized individuality and they were recognized more often during their lifetimes.. The technology of the printing press permitted a much wider distribution of their works and enabled a larger public to the study music.

17 Music Outside the Church Outside the church, traveling musicians called minstrels sang songs about life and love in the language of their people. Their songs were often accompanied by instruments such as the lute (a type of guitar), recorder or hand drum.

18 Polyphonic Notation In polyphonic notation, many voices can share a staff: Then… Now…

19 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW! Printing Press Church or spiritual music Secular music Palestrina & Gabrielli Motets, madrigals Renaissance polyphony Minstrels; language of their songs; and meaning Instruments of the minstrels Shakespeare Columbus


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