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Time Line
The Medieval Period, or Middle Ages, was the first major stage of the artistic eras to come. Several large scale events occurred during this time, affecting many parts of the world, including the fall of the Roman Empire , the start of the Crusades and the devastation of the Black Plague. However, despite the presence of war and disease, the arts survived and in some areas thrived. Guido Arezzo , a Catholic monk, established the first method of musical notation and Hildegard Von Bingen, a Catholic nun, was one of the few women composers of the time. Authors Dante, Chaucer and artist Donatello expressed their passion for the arts at this time. Even though the people in general were considered uneducated, many aided in developing the Medieval Period.


Popular Music


Musical Evolution
Music in the Medieval period was monopolized by the Roman Catholic Church. The majority of music from this time was vocal music. In the church, instruments were not allowed to even accompany the human voice until after 1100. The main form of music during this time was called Gregorian Chant. It consisted of single line melodies with no harmony or accompaniment. This is known as monophonic music. The text of Gregorian chant was in latin and was taken from the Bible. Later a new musical development called polyphony emerged. One of the most important composers of polyphonic music was Leonin. He composed organum, which was created by adding a second melody, to the original Gregorian chant, that was sung in the interval of a fourth above or below the melody. Medieval music was written using a system of notation called neumes. Eventually, new words were written in addition to the original text of the chant and the motet was born. Secular forms of music began to become more popular through entertainers like the minstrel, troubadour, trouvere and jongleur.


Medieval Instruments
The Rebec- The rebec was a string
instrument with a round, pear-shaped

The Dulcimer- The Dulcimer was
played by hitting the strings with

The Psaltery- The Psaltery was a cross between a harp and a guitar.

The Lizard- The lizard was a
“s”-shaped horn that produced a foggy,
yet pleasing, tone.

The Gemshorn- The gemshorn
was made of an ox horn and played as a vertically held flute-like musical instrument.

The Bagpipe- The Bagpipe was
made using a goat or sheep skin and a reed pipe.


Important Composers

Philippe de Vitry
img3-22.jpgBorn in 1291, de Vitry was a renowned intellectual man. Following his writing of his Ars Nova, a statement explaining how he would change music, de Vitry formed his music unlike any composer of the time. De Vitry developed an advanced mathematical formula in which he built the structural foundation of his Latin motets that expressed politics and utilized isorhythm; a single rhythmic figure continually repeated by a voice. Because of his contributions, melodies gradually began to develop. Philippe de Vitry became bereft of life in 1361.

Guillaume Dufay
GuillaumeDufay.jpgBorn in 1400, Guillaume Dufay was one of the most famous composers of the Middle Ages. By tweaking de Vitry’s ideas featured in the Ars Nova, Dufay developed his own romantic and dramatic music. The Frenchman wrote for royalty including John of Luxembourg and two French kings, which contributed to his fame. Some of Dufay’s most popular works include Messe de Notre Dame, Le Remède de Fortune and Le Veoir Dit. Guillaume Dufay joined the majority in 1474.

Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard+von+Bingen+hildegardvonbingen.jpgBorn in 1098, Hildegard von Bingen was a deeply religious composer. Ever since Hildegard was a child, she had seen religious visions and apparitions and had become spiritually devoted to the church. Inspired by the music featured at the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg, Hildegard began to compose liturgical plainchants flattering saints and the Virgin Mary. One of Bingen's most famous work, which was also a play, was Ordo Virtutum. Hildegard von Bingen reached the heavenly shores in1179.


Cultural References
The medieval period is a time that has been consistently romanticized by art, books and movies. One way that we continue to connect to the medieval era is through Medieval Times, a themed restaurant and tourist attraction located in several major cities across the United States. Participants are taken back in time with knights, horses, kings, queens and other medieval characters in a spectacular, dramatic presentation and dinner. Medieval Times has been featured on the popular baking show "Cake Boss". The main baker, Buddy, not only had the opportunity to sculpt a cake for the attraction, but jousted in one of the shows!

Gregorian chant has been brought alive, once again, by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. The original singing of the choir of Santo Domingo de Silos, founded in the early 1900’s, has been recently remastered to reflect the peace and love for God within Christianity. The light, soothing music shows the modern world true Medieval music and instruments. The Monks' 1994 album soared to the Top Ten on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and also went triple platinum in the U.S! To add to the success, millions of copies were sold in Europe! In 2004, the group released an album honoring their anniversary.