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Chapter 9: Medieval and Renaissance

Periods in the development of Western Music
Medieval (Middle ages) (450-1450)
Renaissance (1450-1600)
Baroque (1600-1750)
Classic (1750-1820)
Romantic (1820-1900)
Modern (1900 to present)
Gregorian chant
Gregorian chants, sung in Latin, are used in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. They date from the end of the sixth century c.e., when Pope Gregory I is believed to have ordered the collection and classification of chants to be used throughout the far-flung church.
polyphony
Poly = many; phony = melodies. A texture where two or more independent melodies exist simultaneously, each with equal emphasis

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Renaissance
literal translation: rebirth, indicating a rebirth of Classicism
Mass
The Roman Catholic worship service. A High Mass is composed of the texts called the Proper and the Ordinary. The Proper texts vary from Sunday to Sunday throughout the church year. The Ordinary texts remains the same and consist of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Benedictus, and Agnus Dei. Much of the great choral literature in Western music is polyphonic settings of various sections of the Ordinary. When a composer writes music for the Mass Ordinary the genre is called “Mass.”
Motet
A sacred, polyphonic composition with a non-liturgical text. It flourished during the Renaissance and was sung without accompaniment (a cappella) in Latin by trained choirs, typically in four or five parts. Polychoral motets were written for multiple choirs or choirs divided into two or three distinct groups performing singly (in alternation) and jointly in the full ensemble.
Madrigal
A Renaissance secular contrapuntal work for several voices that originated in Italy and later flourished in England. “Now is the Month of Maying” is an English madrigal by Thomas Morley
The Reformation
Historical period whose origins stem from Martin Luther’s posting his 95 theses criticizing the Catholic Church in 1517, thus dividing the Christian Church into two major divisions: Catholic and Protestant.
Monophony
Mono=one; phony=melody. Texture whereby a single melodic line is heard without other melodies or accompaniment.
Homophony
Homo-same; phony=melody. Texture whereby a primary melody stands out as dominant with other parts supporting that main melody, acting as accompaniment.
Medieval notation
Medieval notation began as words only. Later symbols were added to indicate melodic contour. Staff lines were added around 1000AD. See page 189 for an example of musical notation from the middle ages
Texture
The thickness or thinness of a sound as related to how many voices/instruments are sounding at once. In Western art music we can also identify specific textures as being monophonic, polyphonic, or homophonic. Monophony was the preferred texture of the Middle ages. Composers began adding melodies to existing melodies, creating polyphony.
Chant
A simple song found in many cultures and traditions. It is a monophonic song without accompaniment, of relatively short duration, of limited melodic range, and with a fluid pulse reflecting the rhythm of the text. In Western music chant is an important part of the Roman Catholic liturgy. They are sung in latin, the language of the church.
Counterpoint
Counter=against; point=melody. One melody against, or at the same time, as another. The compositional technique of creating polyphonic texture. The word is frequently used as a synonym for polyphony.
Ornamentation
An embellishment of a melody; adding notes for decoration according to established and commonly accepted performance practices
Imitation
Compositional technique where one voice is copied or imitated in another voice.
Lute
A string instrument from the middle ages and Renaissance
Art music
Music that is formal, sophisticated, urban, and typically appreciated by an educated elite. It is music derived from a cultivated tradition based largely on notated music. A certain amount of musical training is needed in order to create and perform art music.
Vernacular music
The most familiar and most used language of the people of a nation, region, or a cultural group. Vernacular music is the common musical language of a people. With the Protestant Reformation of the Middle Ages, the Catholic Mass, formerly in Latin, began to be translated into the vernacular language – so in Germany it would be presented in German, in France it would be presented in French, etc . . . .
Secular music
Separate from religion. Secular music is music not associated with religion
Sacred music
Religious music. Music performed or composed for use in religious services or through religious influence
Liturgical drama
Dramas from the middle ages that were acted within or near the church. Stories come from the Bible or are related to Saints. Like the medieval liturgy, the language is Latin. Music was included in the form of chants, incidental dance and processional tunes. Common liturgical dramas were “The Play of Daniel” and “The Play of Herod.” Included instruments such as flutes, trumpets, and percussion
Melismatic setting
A musical setting of a text with melismas (multiple notes for one syllable)
Syllabic setting
A musical setting of a text with one note per syllable
Conjunct melody
A melody that is mostly stepwise without excessive changes in direction. Medieval melodies tended to be conjunct melodies in a range of less than an octave.
Disjunct melody
A melody that is characterized by its frequent changes in direction (angular) and by its wide leaps.
Ecclesiastical Church Modes
A scale used in medieval and Renaissance music. Influenced by Greek music theorists the medieval church modes include the Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian and Aeolian modes. (NOTE that I don’t expect you to memorize the names of the different church modes)
Cantor
In the Jewish and Catholic liturgies, a cantor is a soloist who sings parts of the liturgy. In Gregorian chant a cantor might sing part of the chant, followed by the choir.
Antiphonary
A book of liturgical chants used by the choir and congregation in Catholic churches of the middle ages. See page 189 for a photograph of a page from an antiphonary.
Antiphonal chants
Chant performed antiphonally, meaning first sung by a cantor, and then sung by the choir and the congregation.
Liturgy
from a Greek word meaning “public work.” Liturgy is public worship done by specific religious groups. The Roman Catholic Liturgy has its roots in the Jewish Liturgy and includes an order of service based on biblical texts and prayers. The Roman Catholic liturgy is called the Mass and is in Latin. Texts used are divided into Mass Ordinary and Mass Proper.
Harmony
Pitches heard simultaneously. Can be the result of simultaneous melodic lines, or chords accompanying a melody.
Imitative counterpoint
Imitative counterpoint is the creation of two or more independent melodic lines, with each entrance beginning with the same melodic shape at the same or a different pitch level.
Humanism
Philosophy important during the late middle ages and Renaissance that emphasizes human achievements and values human accomplishments
Choral music
A “choir” is a performing group where there is more than one person on a part. Mixed choirs will have both male and female singers. In the Renaissance period the music of the mass would have been performed publicly by monks with boys singing the upper parts. Women did perform music as part of the mass, but in general performed them privately in female monasteries and convents, as was the practice of the time.
SATB
Refers to Soprano – the higher female voice, Alto – the lowest range of the female voice, Tenor – the higher male voice, and Bass – the lower male voice. In Renaissance music the soprano and alto voices were typically sung by men and boys.
Mass Ordinary
The parts of the mass whose texts remain the same throughout the year. The five parts of the Mass Ordinary are the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Benedictus, and the Agnus Dei.
Mass Proper
The parts of the mass whose texts change according to the church calendar. For example, texts about the birth of Christ will be used during Christmas time.
List the 5 Parts of the Mass Ordinary
Kyrie (Lord Be With Us), Gloria (Glory to God in the Highest, Sanctus (Holy Holy Holy) and Benedictus (Blessing), and the Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God)
Cantus Firmus
Literally means “fixed melody.” Renaissance composers used a fixed melody (a pre-existing melody, usually Gregorian chant), as the basis of their polyphonic compositions. They would compose another melody to accompany the cantus firmus, creating polyphony.
homorhythmic
homo=same; A texture in which each part plays or sings simultaneously in the same rhythm
French chanson
vocal chamber music with a secular text in French
Viele
a bowed instrument from the Renaissance period and a forerunner of the modern violin.
List several Renaissance instruments of the woodwind family
Recorder, shawm, crummhorn, cornett
Keyboard instruments of the Renaissance period
Harpsichord, clavichord, organ
Consort
Group of instruments from the same family, such as soprano, alto, tenor, and bass shawms. Renaissance instrumental music is typically performed in consorts, creating a homogeneous sound
Ricercar
Instrumental piece modeled after the vocal motet. Generally written for keyboards or for an instrumental ensemble
Canzona
Instrumental piece modeled after the madrigal of French chanson. Often entertaining and fast moving, metric and contrapuntal
Name some titles of popular psalters used during the Reformation
French Psalter (1562), the Scottish Psalter (1564) the Ainsworth Psalter (1612)
Anthem
The Anglican (Church of England) counterpart to the latin motet. “If Ye Love Me” by Thomas Tallis is an example of an anthem.
Transcription
An arrangement of an existing composition for different voices or instruments. “Jubilate Deo” is originally a vocal motet, but our listening example No. 52 is transcribed for brass instruments.

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Chapter 9: Medieval and Renaissance
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Periods in the development of Western Music Medieval (Middle ages) (450-1450) Renaissance (1450-1600) Baroque (1600-1750) Classic (1750-1820) Romantic (1820-1900) Modern (1900 to present) Gregorian chant
2017-12-08 10:28:18
Chapter 9: Medieval and Renaissance
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