Unit 2 - Medieval, Renaissance, & Baroque Classical
& Beethoven

<Unit 2 Listening Worksheet          Presentation Checklist

Medieval Music

1.     To help think about the more than 2000 years of Western civilization, scholars have divided music history into style periods.  These periods provide a means to organize the features that make up a style.

2.   The same style terms are used for all the arts, although the dates don’t fully coincide among the various arts.  Until about 250 years ago, art and literature tended to be more developed than music.

3.   From about 800 B.C. to 476 A.D. Western civilization was dominated by various city states around the Mediterranean Sea.  Greece, especially Athens, dominated the early centuries of these years and then the Roman Empire ruled.  It was a time of great accomplishments in the arts and philosophy.  Unfortunately, we have little idea of how their music sounded. WHY?

4.   The Middle Ages followed the fall of the Roman Empire and lasted for roughly 500 years to about 1100.  Life centered around the manor and the monasteries.  A system of feudalism bound people to the land and its owner.

5.   The Gothic period lasted from about 1100 to 1450.  It was the time of Scholasticism and the building of many great cathedrals. The period was also marked by chivalry, guilds, and the founding of universities.  Many works of art were created anonymously.

ALSO READ -  Sections through the Crusades on this page


Epic singer
Cretan bronze figurine
Iraklion Museum

4 stringed lyre

Singers improvised the words and the accompaniment.


Gothic (1100-1450)

Magna Carta - 1215

 CracDesChevalier-syria.jpg (74352 bytes)

Early Western Music  

1.     As far can be determined, there has been music since the dawn of history.  But we have only verbal descriptions and pictures to tell us about it.   Why?

2.    Pythagoras found that certain intervals can be represented in mathematical ratios such as 2:1 (octave - Low C to the C 8 white notes above it) and 3:2 (fifth - C to G five white notes up). Go here to see and hear this.

3.   The only type of music we know much about is the sacred music for the Church, which was written down and preserved in monasteries.  At first only marks (called neumes) indicated the direction of the sounds.  But later (around the year 1000) a system of square notes on a four-line staff was created and music notation began.  See an illuminated manuscript with neumes. (large file from Vatican)

Gregorian Chant from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MbDqc3x97k

4.   Worship in the Christian church grew out of Judaism.  It assumed many of the Jewish religious practices such as daily prayer hours and the singing of psalms.

5.   Church music, called Gregorian chant, was compiled and codified about the sixth century under a directive from Pope Gregory.  Particular chants were assigned to certain days in the church calendar.

 Dies irae     Is this monophony, homophony, or polyphony?  

6.   The most important type of worship in the Roman Catholic Church is the Mass.  It consists of two different types of prayers, the Proper and the Ordinary.  The chants for the Proper change according to the church calendar.  The parts of the Ordinary are sung or spoken at every Mass. They are the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.  The Ordinary is what composers set to music.

7.   A Requiem is a Roman Catholic funeral Mass.  It includes the “Dies irae” chant.

8.   Gregorian chant differs from the music most people are familiar with. Chant is:      

·         monophonic (only a single line of music)

·         sung a cappella (without accompaniment)

·         sung in Latin

·         sung by men

·         nonmetrical; it does not have a strong beat, but is gentle and free flowing

·         often sung with one syllable sustained for many notes

·         modal; does not use the familiar major/minor keys

·         conjunct (a smooth, stepwise melody) and has a narrow range

·         intended for worship; it projects an attitude of reverence  

But, HEY!, what about Hildegard?
Sisters of Ephesus 

9.   A number of musical morality plays were created in the Middle Ages.  Their main purpose was to educate the audience about Christian beliefs and morals.

10.  Secular music was often performed by musicians and entertainers who traveled from place to place.  Much of this music was in rhythmic modes, which are patterns like those used to designate metrical patterns in poetry—iambic, trochaic, anapestic, and so on.
Estampie and more about secular music from this period.

11.  The earliest polyphony, called organum, was developed at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.  It consisted of parallel lines of Gregorian chant a fourth or fifth apart.  Later a third and fourth line were added and the parts become more independent.     


Notre Dame in history 

a cappella -


Gregorian chant (plainsong) -




Mass -



neumes - 



plainsong -


Requiem -



Word painting

(text painting) -




AREZZO and what did he do

to help us write out music?


Hand of Guido


Renaissance Music - 1450-1600 

"Renaissance music was not meant for the concert stage."


To Renaissance music... 

Listen to ATU singers - Palestrina's "Sicut Cervus"

secular music

sacred music

a cappella