Music of the Medieval and Renaissance Eras

What’s “early music”? The place does it match within the timeline of classical music? Does it really matter as classical music? What’s a madrigal? What’s a troubadour? What early music ought to I take heed to?

Learn on for the solutions to those questions and extra! Should you’re desirous about a extra in-depth look into the world of early music, take a look at our on-line course: Introduction to Classical Music: Half I: Early Music (476-1600AD)!

What’s early music?

The place does it match within the timeline of classical music?

Early music is loosely outlined as classical music from the autumn of the Roman Empire in 476AD: the start of the Medieval Period/the Center Ages in Europe. Some folks contemplate the tip date of Early Music to coincide with the tip of the Renaissance (roughly 1600AD), whereas others additionally embrace the music of the Baroque Period (ending 1750). For our functions, we select the end-of-the-Renaissance possibility, as:

  • Medieval + Renaissance is already an enormous time period – over 1000 years!

  • Music was a lot much less often notated (written down) and codified (with established guidelines) throughout this time than it was within the “widespread observe” interval, which started through the Baroque Period.

  • The Medieval and Renaissance Eras set the wheels in movement for the developments of the Baroque and past.

Most early music was for unaccompanied or accompanied voices. Purely instrumental music was primarily used for dancing or court docket music.

Here’s a fundamental timeline of Western classical music historical past divisions:

Actual dates are debated:

  • Completely different actions and adjustments occurred at completely different occasions relying on the precise location – what was occurring in Florence was not the identical as what was occurring in Paris!

  • Identical to in the present day, folks teams didn’t at all times agree on what was vital, what was good, or what was applicable/tasteful inside society and artwork. Whereas some folks may need been prepared to just accept new types of music and different adjustments, others didn’t agree! Which means that some examples of music from 1650 can have extra traits in widespread with what we anticipate of the music of the Renaissance than the music of the Baroque.

Does early music really matter as classical music?

When the music of the Early Music interval was composed, the style of “classical music” didn’t exist. Music was typically both written for church contexts (during which case it was generally notated), or secular – usually because the “pop” music of the day.

These days, we typically contemplate “classical music” to be “artwork music” – music which exists for its aesthetic qualities quite than merely for leisure, composed by folks with data of musical constructions and components.

If loads of early music was simply written and carried out for leisure, how can it’s categorized as classical music? Although a lot early music wouldn’t be thought-about “artwork” music by in the present day’s requirements, it was basic in establishing the artwork music traditions and tendencies that will develop later.


Madrigals, motets, troubadours, trouvères, viols, sackbuts… these phrases could also be a bit, or utterly, unfamiliar! There have been sure issues which existed beforehand which now not exist in the present day in the identical method, so the terminology to explain them has largely fallen out of use.

This is a fast record of what these explicit phrases imply:

  • Madrigal: A sort of (often) unaccompanied tune for a number of voices singing completely different components; often a love tune.

  • Motet: A sort of polyphonic (many sounds) vocal work for a number of voices; often non secular.

  • Troubadour: A poet-composer (singer-songwriter) of Previous Occitan poetry. The troubadour motion unfold all through Europe, creating and influencing comparable actions, such because the northern French trouvère, the German Minnesang, and the Galician-Portuguese trovadorismo actions.

  • Viol: The predecessor to modern-day string devices. A viol was a member of the household of hole wood devices which had been bowed (performed with a bow), fretted (with areas alongside the “neck” of the instrument to vary the observe), and stringed (producing sound from vibrating strings).

  • Sackbut: A sort of trombone.

What early music ought to I take heed to?

That every one is determined by your style in music! Scroll down for a number of examples to get you began! Should you discover a piece you want, you possibly can search the title of the composer or the title of the work on-line to get comparable suggestions and extra info!

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