Table Summary

Summary that Medieval and also Renaissance Music
Dark Agesca. 500-1000later center Agesca. 1000-1400Renaissanceca. 1400-1600
musicGregorian chantpolyphonic vocal music (sacred and also secular)
notationcrude notation (approximate point out of pitch)staff notation (precise indication of pitch and rhythm)

General Features

The medieval and Renaissance periods each observed a crucial transition in the structure of west music. During the center Ages, monophony progressed into polyphony (see music Texture). Throughout the Renaissance, the shell harmony of the Middle eras was prospered by true harmony.

You are watching: How did music in the renaissance differ from medieval music

Transitions in the framework of western Music
Middle AgesRenaissanceBaroque
monophony > polyphonyshell harmony > true harmonychurch modes > major/minor scales

Throughout the Baroque, Classical, and also Romantic periods, Western arts music was based on two type of scales: major and minor (see Tonality). Medieval and also Renaissance music, ~ above the other hand, was based on a set of eight scales, recognized as the church modes.4

Credit: Zman
Credit: public domain
Credit: Mezzofortist

To recap: the principal form of Western art music in the Dark periods was Gregorian chant, which to be monophonic. Polyphonic music arised as chants were embellished with extr melody lines; in time, completely original polyphonic music was likewise composed (along with polyphonic music developed on peak of Gregorian chants). The convention of building polyphonic music top top an existing melody would linger because that centuries, however; just in the Baroque era go it become standard practice to create wholly original music.

Secular Music

Throughout the center Ages, advancements in music practice and also theory to be driven mostly by sacred music. Over the centuries, these developments diffused to secular music (non-religious music).I61,3

Since old times, secular vocal music had actually been written for popular entertainment. From antiquity through the early Middle Ages, this compositions featured monophonic texture (see music Texture); typical subjects to be heroic legends, love stories, and satirical observations. In the Dark Ages, minstrels (a basic term for wandering performers) to be the principal group of expert secular musicians.I18,3

In the later on medieval period, minstrels were joined through such teams as the troubadours (of southern France), trouveres (northern France), and also minnesingers and also meistersingers (Germany). In addition to writing monophonic works, these groups introduced polyphony to secular music. Prefer their spiritual counterparts, polyphonic secular works were often developed upon one existing melody (rather 보다 being composed entirely from scratch) up till the Baroque era.

See more: Drink That Starts With J ? Drinks Beginning With Letter J

Renaissance Music

The ax "Renaissance" denotes the resurgence of classical culture (i.e. Greco-Roman culture). In some instances this rebirth was fairly direct; sculptors, for instance, reawakened the timeless statue by studying ancient originals. Through no surviving old music to emulate, however, composers took part in the Renaissance by embracing the general classical principles the simplicity, balance, order, and clarity (see western Aesthetics).

Throughout the later medieval period, composers elevated polyphonic music come staggering heights the complexity. Renaissance composers reigned in this tendency, to like melodies and also harmonies of greater simplicity and clarity. Renaissance music is likewise notable because that its ample use of imitation (the repetition or sports of a melody, regularly at a different pitch), which has actually remained a key element of western music ever since. Imitation expands and amplifies the result of a melody, and also serves as a unifying force throughout a music work.I113-17,3

The Renaissance likewise witnessed the adopt of sweet true harmony in location of dry shell harmony. "Shell harmony" has actually two parts: a root note and its fifth. "True harmony" has actually three parts: a source note, that third, and its fifth.I86-89,3

shell harmonytrue harmony
Credit: Hyacinth (modified)
Credit: Gringer (modified)

Generally speaking, leadership the Western society belonged come France during the later Middle Ages, climate to Italy throughout the Renaissance. Music is an exemption to this basic account. While later medieval music was without doubt led by France, Renaissance music to be led by 3 regions, consecutively: Burgundy, climate the Low Countries, climate Italy.3

Instrumental Music

Vocal works (sacred and secular) were the predominant type of music transparent the medieval and also Renaissance periods; crucial music served chiefly together accompaniment for singers or dancers. Nonetheless, the Renaissance go witness the climb of independent important music. Critical works of the Renaissance period were largely composed because that lute, keyboard (organ, harpsichord, or clavichord), or small ensembles (strings, woodwinds, and/or brass).I142,3