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Unformatted text preview: 15 CHAPTER 3 MUSIC IN THE MIDDLE AGES (c. 450-1450) General Background on the Middle Ages During the "Middle Ages" (the "Medieval" era between the fall of Rome and the start of the Renaissance), the Western Christian ["Catholic"] Church evolved into Europe's strongest institution. Medieval times also included the "Age of Chivalry," the Crusades, the "Black Plague," and the establishment of the first universities. Feudalism separated society into a multi-leveled structure, ranging from wealthy royalty to poor serfs. Important Musical Considerations in the Middle Ages Music in the Middle Ages began as monophonic chant , then around 1000 A.D., new types of polyphony developed and gradually expanded in rhythm, harmony and texture until reaching an extremely complex style in the late 1300s. A full assessment of Medieval music is difficult because the amount of musical source material that has survived from this era is limited by several factors: A process for printing music had not yet been invented. A standardized music notation system was slow to evolve. Copying music by hand was a tedious task few people had the skill or the time to do so. Until the widespread use of paper in the Renaissance, music had to be copied on to large pieces of animal hide (expensive and difficult). The church was one of the few institutions to educate music copyists. Some monks lived in solitary confinement and copied music in service to God. Many precious manuscripts that had survived into the 20 th century were destroyed by Allied bombs during World War II. Representative Composers of the Middle Ages Early Medieval composers were rarely identified by name; however, as polyphony developed, some composers were credited by others for their innovations: HILDEGARD of Bingen (1098-1179; Germany) This Catholic nun is noted for her expressive chants and hymns. She was also a visionary/mystic who wrote on theology, politics, medicine, and science. LEONIN (c. 1135-1201) and PEROTIN (1180-c.1207France) These two composers worked at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and are noted for developing an early type of polyphony called organum . Guillaume de MACHAUT (c. 1300-1377; France) The most important composer of the Middle Ages; He brought Medieval music to its height of rhythmic and harmonic complexity. CHAPTER 3: Music in the Middle Ages 16 SACRED MUSICAL GENRES OF THE MIDDLE AGES The Roman Mass For hundreds of years, Christians were persecuted by Roman authorities; however, during the 5 th century in a miraculous turnabout, the once-underground Christian Church became not only toleratedbut formally established as the official church of Rome. Gradually, its most sacred ritual Holy Communion (the taking of bread and wine to commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus and His Disciples as recounted in the New Testament)became the foundation for the daily Mass . By c.1000, the Roman Catholic Mass had expanded to approximately 20 prayers, divided into two categories:...
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- Spring '08