Music over the years has been established as one of the major and the most crucial part of human life. People all over the world make use of music in almost all their activities and also as a major part of their cultures and tradition. Music can be dated far back to at least 30,000 to 60,000 years ago when man first experienced a kind of ‘cultural explosion’ and began to develop different forms of art in form of paintings, jewelry and ornaments production, the celebration of funerals and most importantly music.
As centuries passed, the man began to advance in all his actions and thus began to improve in all his activities. The Middle Ages which lasted from the 5th to 15th century was one of the most important times of this improvement that man experienced, and this was also a time when music becomes predominant and more advanced. A summary of music in the Middle Ages is given in this article.
The medieval music was made up of songs, instrumental pieces, and liturgical music from about 500 A.D to 1400 A.D. The medieval music was an era of western music, liturgical music (used for liturgical and religious activities) and also non-religious music. Medieval was majorly made up of vocal music, instrumental music, and also music that consists of a mixture of both vocal and instrumental dominance. Examples of these types of music can be found in the Gregorian chant and the Choral music (music made by a group of singers.)
During the medieval era, the development of Music notation and Music writing took form and these practices shaped western music into the norms that developed during the common-practice era a period of shared Music writing which encompassed the Baroque music composers from 1600 to 1750. Example of these music composers includes J.S Bash and some other classical music composers from1700s such as W.A Mozart. The development of music notation which was the most obvious at the medieval time enabled song composers to write out melodies and instrumental pieces on paper. Before this time, the song was only transmitted and learned by ear which made difficult to be learned and transmitted.
Since the music that existed at this time made use of a lot of musical instruments, it is only natural that some of these instruments to still be present in the 21st century. The instrument used in medieval times is still being used today in the world of music but some adjustment has been made to improve them. For example, the wooden flute that was used in the medieval period was a simple instrument that was made of wood, but now this instrument has been improved to a metal, sliver or golden instrument (depending on the manufacturer) that is now more technical than the early form. Improvements have also been made to almost all other types of musical instruments that were used at that time. More examples of musical instruments used for the medieval music include the recorder, the flute, the gemshorn (similar to the recorder but with its finger holes in front), the pan flute, the lute, the Lyra of the Byzantine Empire, and a lot more. These instruments made the music at this time quite fascinating and interesting. Many composers and singers of the medieval ages came from the catholic church and the music they composed was usually religious and solemn. Polymorphic music can also be attributed to the catholic church of the Middle Ages.
In the medieval ages, the catholic church was the only Christian church present at that time and the head of the catholic church the pope had a lot of political influence on what happened in most parts of the world. It is of no surprise thus to know that the church had a great influence on the predominant music that existed at that time since the catholic religion was quite popular around the known world. The music of the church thus was one of the major types of music that were common at this time as the church was one of the few institutions that could finance large musical gatherings.
Since the church thought to cover a large part of the known world, it did not cover the entire world, rich kings and men also have the resources to finance singers and song writers to play and entertain them in their courts and houses. These musicians were synonymous with the contemporary singers and song writers and the theme of most of their songs was often based on love.
Also, there was a different genre of music in medieval times, and instruments were made to suit all this kind of music. Different places had different genres of music on different occasions. The united kingdom for example in the medieval times made use of sacred and secular, music for religious and non-religious purposes. The secular music used was often solemn and quite meditative. During the earlier medieval period, the liturgical genre was predominantly Gregorian chant done by monks and it was monophonic (monophonic means a single harmonic part or piece without ant musical accompaniment.) also, Polyphonic genres, in which multiple melodious lines performed simultaneously began to develop and gain popularity around this time as well. The medieval period experienced one of the greatest innovations and development in the musical world. At this time also, dance music which was often improvised around familiar troopers was the largest purely instrumental genre. The secular Ballata which became very popular in Italy had its origins in medieval instrumental dance music.
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