prehistoric times to about 200 A.D. Music of
ancient Greece. Mainly what we know is:
MONOPHONIC- comprised of a single
melodic line without accompaniment or
Improvisation-a musician’s ability to alter,
vary, or ornament a melody.
MIDDLE AGES- 800-1400
Notation began-written music
Liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church
Gregorian Chant was the first common music that we have documents.
Western European body of music. A theory of it’s usage came into being.
Rise of POLYPHONY, the most important development of western music.
Polyphonic music is more than one melodic line going on at a time.
Act of composition replaced improvisation, and with this came a need for
notation, a system of preserving sounds. Decline of feudal aristocratic society,
and time of initial separation of church and state, and between religion and
GREGORIAN CHANT- Monophonic, modal, sung acappello, non-metric,
limited range, sung in Latin, written with a special neumatic notation.
AUTHENTIC MODES-1 D-Dorian,3 E-Phyrgian, 5F- Lydian, 7G-Mixolydian.
PLAGUL MODES- 2Hypodorian 4Hypophrygian 6Hypolydian
Middle Ages Cont’d
SECULAR SONG-Undoubtedly played an important role in
Medieval Society, by relatively little of it has been preserved.
(LITURGICAL Music preserved by the Catholic Church).
What we do have suggests that secular song and poetic
creativity flourished mainly in France and Germany.
Examples-French poet-composers called “troubadours and
traversers”-both meaning “finders”.
The French troubadours and trouvere songs were models for
German poet-composers “minnesingers and Meistersingers”.
EARLY POLYPHONY began in middle ages towards end of
the Christian era. It is not known when part singing actually
1150-1300 ARS ANTIQUA-“Old ART” era
of further significant developments in
polyphony. 1st recognition of COMPOSERS.
C. FRANCO OF COLOGNE
D. PIERRE de la Croix
Musical leadership was shared by France where it was called Ars Nova, “New
Art”, and Italy, where it was called the Trecento. Important characteristics were
held in common by both countries.
Far more secular music than sacred music was composed.
Tempus Imperfection (duple division of notes) was used more often than
Tempus Perfection (triple division symbolic of Father, Son and Holy Ghost)
Rhythmic modes were abandoned in favor of more complex and diversified rhythms.
Cantus Firma was used less often. More music was freshly composed without any
Melodic and rhythmic interest tended to center in the top voice.
Harmonic 3rds and 6ths appeared more frequently.
LANDINI CADENCE, a melodic formula came into being. It consisted of a scale
degree pattern 7-6-1.
Earliest organ music preserved in notation is in the Robertobridge Codex in1325
14th Century Cont’d
4 Types of Composition
b. Ballade-aabc-3 part compositions with melodic and rhythmic interest in the top voice.
Leading composer of French ARS NOVA was Guillame de Machaut-1300-1377
Phillippe de Vitry- known for his treatise on notation entitled ARS NOVA, from which the
entire 14th century musical practices took its name.
ITALIAN polyphonic music came prominently into the picture for the 1st time.
3 secular forms of music during the Italian Trecento
Madrigal- 2 vocal parts, each stanza, in duple time, concludes with a ritornello, section in
Caccia- 1st musical form to exploit the principle of canon based on continuous imitation
between 2 or more parts.
Ballata- Dance song
Principal composers of Italian Trecento was Francesco Landini. Most important manuscript
collection is the Squarcialupi Codexx which contained some 350 compositions.
Renaissance- translates into re-birth or renewal. A revolution generally
reflected in the arts, literature, and philosophy. After a century of supreme
authority by the church the 15th century sought to build a stable world
upon human achievements. HUMANISM Efforts to rekindle music’s
power over human emotions led to a period of sensuous, deeply felt music-
making. Most vocal music was religious. The Renaissance was an era of
two worlds-the sacred and the secular- that came to compliment each other.
The creative paradox was evident in the patronage system that supported
musicians and music-making. The most important invention of the
period—movable type—which directly affected the dissemination of
music, its audience, and its creation. The 1st polyphonic music publication
in 1501. New technologies also led to improvements in instrument making.
As a result, for the first time in Western music, composers wrote idiomatic
instrumental music, including works for keyboard instruments. The
development of instrumental music in this period set the stage for further
development in the future.
Centers of musical activity shifted from central France and Italy to England, northern
France and the Franco-Flemish region.
There was a marked trend toward a HOMOPHONIC texture, also called CHORDAL
STYLE or familiar style, with a topmost melody supported by chordal harmonies.
Melodic progress was characterized by numerous 3rds. Triple meter was employed more than
in the 14th century.
GENRES OF MUSIC - Mass, motet, carol, and secular polyphony.
Principal English composer of the 1st half of the 15th Century was John Dunstable.
FRANCO-FLEMISH MUSIC (NETHERLANDS)
4 voice writing became more common from middle of century.
More stylistic equality among different parts.
Imitation played a more prominent role than ever before.
Authentic V-I cadence and Plagul IV-I cadence became more common than modal cadences
Significant marks of Renaissance era
1524-First publication of Lutheran chorales. Martin Luther was a
theologian that revolutionized religion in Europe. His chorales led to
further development of chorale-style writing that is still around in the 21st
1592-Anthology of Italian madrigals and in 1601-Thomas Morley had a
collection of madrigals.
The different musical genres used in the Renaissance period were:
Mass – in the Catholic Church
Carol- a popular 15th century form in England was the 2 part carol-which was
sung to a religious poem of numerous stanzas with the same music.
Four voice writing became more common from the
middle of the century.
More stylistic equality among the parts.
Imitation played a more prominent role than ever
Composers of the late 15th and early 16th century
initiated a more expressive style, which they called
MUSICA RESERVATA that was intended to
reflect a s powerefully as possible the nuances of
Franco- Flemish composers developed new techniques
rather than new genres.
In the canonic form, new imitative devices appeared
Augmentation (An increase of the time values of
the notes in the imitating voice).
Diminution (A decrease of the time values)
Inversion (imitation of ascending interval by
Retrograde Motion (backward motion of the
imitating voice, called crab canons)
THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
The 16th century was an era of great achievements in all
the humanities. In music, vocal polyphony reached a
pinnacle of expressiveness that stands among the highest
in the history of Western music. The following important
Although Franco-Flemish techniques dominated throughout
Europe, other national schools emerged over the course of
The technique of vocal polyphony was highly developed.
Vocal style was dominant but the beginning of an
independent instrumental style was evident.
16th Century Cont’d
Religious music was still dominated by the Roman Church,
but Protestant music, principally in France, Germany, and
England began a development that culminated with the end
of the Baroque.
Secular music rose to a new eminence under the patronage
of the nobility.
Imitation played a more prominent role than ever.
Modality still influenced both sacred and secular music, but
the trend was strongly toward major and minor tonalities.
Triadic, chordal structures came to permeate 16th century
Textures varied from homophonic to contrapuntal and were
generally characterized by balanced polyphony with equality
Masses and motets dominated religious music.
Roman Catholic music had equality of voice parts
was the characteristic texture. Although instruments
were used in performance, the music was written a
cappella with no instruments indicated.
Some of the following are the national schools that
were starting to develop in music.
Franco-Flemish, Roman, Spanish, Venetian, English,
German were the 1st national schools to be
The Protestant Reformation was the most significant
event to surface in the 16th century.
The most important musical contribution of the
Lutheran Reformation was a new type of religious
song called CHORALE. These hymns were intended
for congregational singing. Chorales were
monophonic at first, then they were set in simple 4-
part harmony with the chorale melody uppermost,
and finally, they were used in more elaborate
contrapuntal settings for performance by chorus.
Secular music again rivaled sacred music because of the
widespread Renaissance spirit of humanism.
The rise of national schools was even more pronounced in
secular than sacred music.
Secular music thrived in all European courts under the
patronage of nobility.
Realize that Renaissance secular music was intended as
entertainment for amateur performers rather than as concert
It was composed and performed as chamber music for a few
participants rather than large choral ensembles.
English madrigals, as we know today, received its initial
impetus from Italy.
Although instrumental music in the Renaissance never
matched the quantity or quality of vocal music, it is important because
it reveals the rise of interest in instrumental media and the first
realization of an independent instrumental idiom.
Instrumental music generally stayed within the limits defined by vocal
Improvisation played an important role in performance, especially in
As in the Middle Ages, instruments were freely employed in the
performance of vocal music, though they were not often specified.
Published transcriptions of vocal music for instrumental performance
Instrumental style in Renaissance
style is manifested in these ways
Rapid and long scale passages.
Numerous wide skips
Melodic range wider than vocal limitations
Extensive ornamentation (coloration,
embellishment, and figuration).
A much freer treatment of dissonance.
INSTRUMENTS OF THE
Strings, winds and keyboard instruments.
Bowed strings were viols, ancestors of the 17th century violin family.
Plucked strings- Lute was the most popular solo instrument. Tablature was
the notation used for these instruments.
The most important Renaissance wind instrument was the recorder, an
end-blown wooden flute. Recorders, made in all sizes from treble to bass
were used in various kinds of ensemble music. The shawm and
krummhorn were double-reed woodwinds. Cornets, made of wood or
ivory, were soft-toned instruments. Various kinds of trumpets and
trombones were in use, but they were limited to the natural tones of the
Large church organs were built in the Renaissance. String keyboard
instruments were of two types: clavichord and harpsichord. Renaissance
instrumental ensembles were almost entirely small chamber groups, rarely