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About Medieval music

Medieval music consists of songs, instrumental pieces, and liturgical music from about 500 A.D. to 1400. Medieval music was an era of Western music, including liturgical music (also known as sacred) used for the church, and secular music, non-religious music. Medieval music includes solely vocal music, such as Gregorian chant and choral music (music for a group of singers), solely instrumental music, and music that uses both voices and instruments (typically with the instruments accompanying the voices). Gregorian chant was sung by monks during Catholic Mass. The Mass is a reenactment of Christ's Last Supper, intended to provide a spiritual connection between man and God. Part of this connection was established through music. This era begins with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century. Establishing the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance music era is difficult, since the trends started at different times in different regions. The date range in this article is the one usually adopted by musicologists. During the Medieval period the foundation was laid for the music notation and music theory practices that would shape Western music into the norms that developed during the common-practice era, a period of shared music writing practices which encompassed the Baroque music composers from 1600–1750, such as J.S. Bach and Classical music period composers from the 1700s such as W.A. Mozart and Romantic music era composers from the 1800s such as Wagner. The most obvious of these is the development of a comprehensive music notational system which enabled composers to write out their song melodies and instrumental pieces on parchment or paper. Prior to the development of musical notation, songs and pieces had to be learned "by ear", from one person who knew a song to another person. This greatly limited how many people could be taught new music and how wide music could spread to other regions or countries. The development of music notation made it easier to disseminate (spread) songs and musical pieces to a larger number of people and to a wider geographic area. However the theoretical advances, particularly in regard to rhythm—the timing of notes—and polyphony—using multiple, interweaving melodies at the same time—are equally important to the development of Western music.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Medieval music , which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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