2Historical Background Because of the domination of the early Catholic Church during this period, sacred music was the most prevalent.The Church was able to dictate the progress of arts and letters according to its own strictures and employed all the scribes, musicians and artists. At this time, western music was almost the sole property of the Catholic Church.
3Historical Background Beginning with Gregorian Chant, sacred music slowly developed into a polyphonic music called organum performed at Notre Dame in Paris by the twelfth century.Secular music flourished, too, in the hands of the French trouvères and troubadours, until the period culminated with the sacred and secular compositions of the first true genius of Western music, Guillaume de Machaut.
4Gregorian ChantThe early Christian church derived their music from existing Jewish and Byzantine religious chant. Like all music in the Western world up to this time, plainchant was monophonic.The melodies are free in tempo and seem to wander melodically, dictated by the Latin liturgical texts to which they are set.
5Gregorian ChantAs these chants spread throughout Europe , they were embellished and developed along many different lines in various regions and according to various sects.Many years later, composers of Renaissance polyphony very often used plainchant melodies as the basis for their sacred works.
6Notre Dame and the Ars Antiqua Sometime during the 9th century, music theorists in the Church began experimenting with the idea of singing two melodic lines simultaneously at parallel intervals, usually at the fourth, fifth, or octave. The resulting hollow-sounding music was called organum and very slowly developed over the next hundred years.By the 11th century, one, two (and much later, even three) added melodic lines were no longer moving in parallel motion, but contrary to each other, sometimes even crossing.
7Notre Dame and the Ars Antiqua This music thrived at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris during the 12th and 13th centuries, and much later became known as the Ars Antiqua, or the "old art."
8Notre Dame and Ars Antiqua The two composers at Notre Dame especially known for composing in this style are Léonin (fl. ca ), who composed organa for two voices, and his successor Pérotin (fl. early13th century), whose organa included three and even four voices. Pérotin’s music is an excellent example of this very early form of polyphony (music for two or more simultaneously sounding voices).This music was slowly supplanted by the smoother contours of the polyphonic music of the fourteenth century, which became known as the Ars Nova.
9The Trouvères and the Troubadours Popular music, usually in the form of secular songs, existed during the Middle Ages. This music was not bound by the traditions of the Church, nor was it even written down for the first time until sometime after the tenth century.Hundreds of these songs were created and performed (and later notated) by bands of musicians flourishing across Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, the most famous of which were the French trouvères and troubadours.
10The Trouvères and the Troubadours The monophonic melodies of these itinerant musicians, to which may have been added improvised accompaniments, were often rhythmically lively.The subject of the overwhelming majority of these songs is love, in all its permutations of joy and pain.
11Guillaume de Machaut and the Ars Nova Born: Champagne region of France, ca. 1300Died: Rheims, 1377Joined the court of John, Duke of Luxembourg and King of Bohemia around 1323, serving as the king’s secretary until that monarch’s death in battle at Crécy in 1346.the first composer to create a polyphonic setting of the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass (the Ordinary being those parts of the liturgy that do not change, including the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei).
12Guillaume de Machaut and the Ars Nova The new style of the fourteenth century, dubbed the Ars Nova by composers of the period, can be heard in the "Gloria" from Machaut’s Messe de Notre Dame.This new polyphonic style caught on with composers and paved the way for the flowering of choral music in the Renaissance.
13Machaut’s Secular Music Machaut also composed dozens of secular love songs, also in the style of the polyphonic "new art."These songs epitomize the courtly love found in the previous century’s vocal art, and capture all the joy, hope, pain and heartbreak of courtly romance.The secular motets of the Middle Ages eventually evolved into the great outpouring of lovesick lyricism embodied in the music of the great Renaissance Madrigalists.