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Middle Ages and Renaissance: Comparing The Masses

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There are many similarities and many differences between the musical masses of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Some of the comparisons may include: texture, rhythm, melody, and harmony. Today I am going to compare the masses between these time periods. A mass is a liturgy of the Eucharist, the main service of the Roman Catholic Church. This meaning that the mass is a ritual done during the Christian ceremony commemorating the last supper. Music from Western Europe during the middle ages can be rewind as far back as religious developments that took place in Europe between the centuries of 500 to 1400 A. D. Masses started in the Middle ages starting from 500 to 1400 A. D. During this time sacred music, also known as liturgy, was the most prevalent. There are two types of masses, each with subunits.

The name of the two masses are Typical Ordinary Masses and Typical Proper Masses. There are seven parts to the typical ordinary masses, and their names are: Kyrie eleison, Gloria in excelsis, credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, and Ite missa est. Then, there are twelve parts to the typical proper masses, seven of the parts are the same as the ordinary mass, and there are four parts in addition which are introit, gradual, alleluia sequence, offertory, and communion. During the Middle Ages, musical texture like Gregorian chant was monophonic, meaning it has a single melodic line. Sacred vocal music, such as Gregorian chants, was set to Latin text and sung unaccompanied. While during the Renaissance, church choirs added one or more melodic lines to the Gregorian chants. This created polyphonic texture, meaning it has two or more melodic lines.

There was no clear sense of meter or rhythm with Gregorian chant during the middle ages because precise time values were not notated. While in the Renaissance the Gutenberg press was invented, making music notated and allowing music theory to advance. Music in the Middle Ages was based off the human voice and vocals while the renaissance supported instruments and vocal music. There are also many similarities between the music of these ages like how Gregorian chant is still a sacred liturgy that is worshipped in roman catholic churches.

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