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EpISODE 75 MiDDLE AGES MUSIC PT1

HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips

 

TYPE- History

 

DURATION- 80:00

 

BUMPER MUSIC- "Columba Aspexit" (Hildegard of Bingen, performed by Sara James)

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe

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DESCRIPTION

Middle Ages music occurred roughly between the dates of 500-1400 CE. In this episode, we will mainly talk about monophony. We will discuss plain chant, Gregorian chant and the antiphon, as the common types of vocal music within the church. We will also cover some of the secular music, made popular by the troubadours, trouvères and Minnesängers. Climb inside our time machine!

MUSIC AND THE CHURCH

-In the Middle Ages, the Christian Church supported and defined music.

 

-Musicians were religious people (priests, nuns, monks, etc.).

 

-There was secular music played by minstrels, but it was not written down so we know little about it today.

 

-Church services were held in grand cathedrals, not small parishes.

 

-Each service had music, but it was all from small variations of the same prototype. These pieces were MONOPHONIC (one line of music, one melody) and were made for vocals. This resulted in a few different forms of chants.

PLAINCHANT- This was monophonic unaccompanied music for voices. During this time  period, these voices were all male. PLAINCHANT has two main features:

 

1-They are NON METRICAL. There were no implied tempos or rhythms.

 

2-The melodies were based on MODES, rather than scales. The main modes of this period were DORIAN, PHRYGIAN, LYDIAN and MIXOLYDIAN. MAJOR and MINOR were not yet established at this point.

 

-GREGORIAN CHANT- A form of PLAINCHANT, this was a set of specific chants collected and cataloged by Pope Gregory I.

 

-RECITATION- Or, Gregorian recitation, was usually used for routine texts, such as words from the bible, sung to a single reciting tone. Melody was used on more significant occasions.

 

-ANTIPHON- Used on holidays and other special occasions, the ANTIPHON was a little more melodic than the RECITATION.

-Hildegard of Bingen (c.1098-1179) was the first known composer. She was Benedictine abbess in what is now Germany. She was known to compose plainchant melodies to her own lyrics.

MUSIC OUTSIDE THE CHURCH

-Over the span of the Middle Ages, kings and barons gradually began to compete with the Church for power, and came to assume leadership in musical matters.

 

-TROUVERES were poet-composers of court songs from the Age of Chivalry, these songs were secular, not religious. These songs are mostly about chivalry, love, laments for the dead. These people had different names in different places.

1.Trouveres- North of France

2.Troubadors- South of France

3.Minnesingers- Germany

 

-Bernart De Ventadorn (c.1135-1194) was one of the most famous French troubadors, who came to work in the court of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II of England.

HOW DID THIS MUSIC SOUND?

There is much room for interpretation of how this music actually sounded. Some scholars think these songs were actually much less refined, and sounded more like the way chant sounds in other cultures. The scores we have are ancient and imperfect, and the traditions that everyone at the time would know have been lost.

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