Introduction

Table Summary

Outline of Medieval and Renaissance Music
Dark Agesca. 500-1000later Center Agesca. 1000-1400Renaissanceca. 1400-1600
musicGregorian chantpolyphonic vocal music (sacred and also secular)
notationcrude notation (approximate indication of pitch)staff notation (exact indication of pitch and also rhythm)

General Features

The medieval and Renaissance durations each experienced an essential transition in the structure of Western music. During the Center Ages, monophony advanced right into polyphony (check out Musical Texture). During the Renaissance, the shell harmony of the Middle Ages was thrived by true harmony.

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Transitions in the Structure of Western Music
Center AgesRenaissanceBaroque
monophony > polyphonyshell harmony > true harmonychurch modes > major/minor scales

Throughout the Baroque, Classical, and also Romantic durations, Western art music was based upon two kinds of scales: major and minor (view Tonality). Middle ages and Renaissance music, on the other hand, was based on a collection of eight scales, recognized as the church settings.4


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Credit: Zman
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Credit: public domain
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Credit: Mezzofortist

To recap: the major form of Western art music in the Dark Ages was Gregorian chant, which was monophonic. Polyphonic music emerged as chants were embellimelted via additional melody lines; in time, purely original polyphonic music was also written (in addition to polyphonic music built on height of Gregorian chants). The convention of building polyphonic music upon an existing melody would certainly linger for centuries, however; just in the Baroque era did it become typical practice to create wholly original music.

Secular Music

Throughout the Middle Ages, advances in music practice and also theory were moved mainly by sacred music. Over the centuries, these advancements diffprovided to secular music (non-spiritual music).I61,3

Due to the fact that prehistoric times, secular vocal music had been written for popular entertainment. From antiquity with the early Middle Ages, these compositions featured monophonic texture (watch Musical Texture); typical topics were heroic legends, love stories, and satirical monitorings. In the Dark Ages, minstrels (a general term for wandering performers) were the major team of experienced secular musicians.I18,3

In the later on medieval duration, minstrels were joined by such teams as the troubadours (of southern France), trouveres (northern France), and minnesingers and meistersingers (Germany). In enhancement to composing monophonic works, these teams introduced polyphony to secular music. Like their spiritual counterparts, polyphonic secular functions were regularly constructed upon an existing melody (fairly than being composed completely from scratch) up till the Baroque era.

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Renaissance Music


The term "Renaissance" denotes the revival of timeless culture (i.e. Greco-Roman culture). In some situations this renewal was quite direct; sculptors, for circumstances, reawakened the classical statue by examining ancient originals. With no surviving primitive music to emulate, yet, composers took component in the Renaissance by embracing the basic classical principles of simplicity, balance, order, and clarity (check out Western Aesthetics).

Throughout the later on medieval duration, composers elevated polyphonic music to staggering heights of complexity. Renaissance composers reigned in this tendency, preferring melodies and harmonies of greater simplicity and also clarity. Renaissance music is additionally remarkable for its ample usage of imitation (the repetition or variation of a melody, frequently at a different pitch), which has actually stayed a crucial element of Western music ever before because. Imitation expands and amplifies the result of a melody, and serves as a unifying pressure throughout a musical occupational.I113-17,3

The Renaissance likewise witnessed the embrace of sweet true harmony in place of dry shell harmony. "Covering harmony" has actually two parts: a root note and its fifth. "True harmony" has 3 parts: a root note, its third, and also its fifth.I86-89,3

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

Usually speaking, leadership of Western society belonged to France throughout the later on Center Ages, then to Italy during the Renaissance. Music is an exemption to this general account. While later on medieval music was indeed led by France, Renaissance music was led by three regions, consecutively: Burgundy, then the Low Countries, then Italy.3

Instrumental Music

Vocal works (spiritual and secular) were the preleading develop of music throughout the medieval and Renaissance periods; important music served chiefly as accompaniment for singers or dancers. Nonetheless, the Renaissance did witness the climb of independent critical music. Instrumental functions of the Renaissance period were greatly written for lute, keyboard (body organ, harpsichord, or clavichord), or little ensembles (strings, woodwinds, and/or brass).I142,3