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Medieval music began with the Gregorian chant in the Dark Ages (ca. 500-1000) and early Christian period, beginning as monophonic vocal works. By the latter Middle Ages, music evolved into polyphony and “shell harmony,” which eventually turned into true harmony during the Renaissance (ca. 1400-1600). Musical scales show the eight “Church Modes,” parallel melody lines, and polyphonic texture showing independent pitch movement and rhythm. See how music notations have evolved from the Dark Ages up to modern notation. Sacred music drove advances in music practice and theory during the Middle Ages, but minstrels and troubadours composed secular music for entertainment.
Topic: Medieval music (500-1400), Renaissance music (1400-1600) Language: English Lexile: 1400 http://www.essential-humanities.net
While perhaps best known for advances in science and art, the Renaissance was also a time for advances in music and dance. The printing press, compass, Protestant Reformation, and Shakespeare's plays shaped the world. Instrumental dance music provided buoyant rhythms and set the foundation for Baroque dances. Musical composers focused on polyphony, creating otherworldly choruses and intricate counterpoint melodies. A furrier composed sacred chants, while English madrigalists sang sprightly songs about unrequited love in parts.
Topic: Madrigals, Renaissance music (1400-1600) Language: English Lexile: 1340 http://www.ipl.org
Surprisingly, the Middle Ages had quite a repertoire when it came to musical instruments, and this guide to Medieval and Renaissance instruments includes thirty-two instruments that were played during this time. You might recognize some of the names: lute, bagpipe, harpsichord, percussion, and dulcimer, but most of them have very unusual names. Click on each one to learn about the history of the instrument, see what it looks like, and hear how it sounds. The pipe and tabor is a drum and flute played by one dexterous person. The bladder pipe is made out of a sheep’s bladder.
Topic: Medieval music (500-1400), Renaissance music (1400-1600), Lute, Bagpipe Language: English Audio http://www.music.iastate.edu
The sixteenth-century papal choir performed traditional chants from the Middle Ages and polyphonic pieces written by Renaissance composers. Engravings, miniatures, and woodcuts depict church choirs and early opera scenes. Papal records show that singers were fined for missing services. See examples of Renaissance manuscripts for polyphonic music. Like many medieval manuscripts, they were sometimes elaborately illustrated. The traditional melodies for Gregorian chants sometimes made the words difficult to understand. Pope Gregory XIII sought to eliminate barbaric melodies that had crept into sacred music. Explore efforts to keep Pope Marcellus II from banning polyphonic music.
Topic: Renaissance music (1400-1600) Lexile: 1480 Primary Source Material http://www.loc.gov