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The Development of Music in The Middle Ages

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The Middle Ages paved the way for musical creation. The music began simple in its form, simple in melody and harmonies, or combination of musical sounds being played at the same time. The first form of music was the Gregorian Chant. It was very simple in nature. The chant was a single voice, one melody without an accompaniment of instruments. Later, during the Renaissance major changes in music were highly influenced by aspects of religious events, politics, and economic factors I Europe. The biggest musical advancement was to change to a polyphonic sound. Polyphonic meaning several simultaneous melodies mainly in Latin, used during church services. As the period went on, the polyphonic or multivocal music grew in complexity. During this time many musical instruments were integrated in, offering complexity to the sound.

Medieval life and culture were full of barbaric treatment and superstition beliefs. The people were uneducated. If your beliefs differed from those in power, the punishments were unfair and harsh. Uneducated also dealt with their health beliefs. Sickness outcomes were left in God’s hands. If a doctor did happen to treat an illness, it was by bloodletting. The thought behind it was to perform a cut and let the toxic blood drip out. But the person ended up dripping too much blood out and caused people them to suffer from the side effects of severe anemia or even worse from death as a frequent consequence. Even for children education was not important Families would work long – hard days for minimal earnings just to help feed the family. Children often ended up dying of illnesses or work-related injuries. The few fortunate people of Medieval times were held highly in court. They were kings and queens. They had servants and maids. They used the less fortunate as entertainment or the poor women for sexual desires, and when they were done with them, they would just send them away.

Towards the end of the period the culture began to evolve for the better due to influences from trading with outside communities. Yet the church was hurt by this. They did not like the influences moving people away from the belief systems of the church. Whereas the Renaissance or “rebirth” time period flourished on intellectual knowledge. Starting in Italy, it used influences of art, religion, science, philosophy and literature to grow. As a whole they revolted against the learning of Medieval times and transformed their educational process. Scholars based learning off the humanist beliefs. They focused on realism and the real human emotions. People studied poetry, ethical matters and the use of grammar. Even the church changed their approach to religion as one of intellectual. Art and science together had many strides forward. Many great contributions during this time regarding biology, the human anatomy and, physics and astronomy. Music evolved with choirs of singers. The new interest in music spread into European countries. Music schools began in Rome and well as in England. Overall the Renaissance period was a much better time to live in than the Medieval.

Opera – are serious. The plots are based on mythology or historical events. They had extravagant sets and costumes. They were showcase for singers. They had a leading role with other singers taking parts. Acting or dance/ballet could be involved. Setting was an opera house. Well known composer- George Frederic Handel Oratorio- like an opera, as they were based on a storyline. Normally based on biblical events. Yet they did not involve the costumes and staging like an opera. Contained large orchestras or choirs. Chairs played the main role. Little or no interaction between actors. Well known composer- also George Frederic Handel Cantatas- during the Baroque period they were Italian in style. Short and light entertainment. They included voices and music. Cantata means sung. Mainly by a female vocalist accompanied with instruments or a choir. Created to be performed in a church. They sounded like hymns in melody. Well known composer- Johann Sebastian Bach, Dieterich Buxtehude, George Philipp Telemann All 3 tell a story. All were created by musical composers. All used some sort of instruments. All contained at least one vocalist.

Da capo form was an extremely popular form of music that was a part of Italian operas and cantatas. It was dramatic. They were performed by a soloist singer who was accompanied with many instruments or an orchestra of instruments. The da capo form is a tertiary form meaning it is composed of 3 sections. The first section is entirely musical. The second is distinctly different in mood from the first. And composers did not write out the third section, so the singers were expected to improvise. This allowed for the increase of virtuoso performers. This allowed for the artists to showcase their spectacular talent. People became obsessed with watching these performers. These performed became starts of their times and had following audiences.

The orchestra is comprised of four different groups of musical instruments, the strings, woodwinds, percussion and brass. They can also include the piano or harps. The orchestra sets the drama factor. It sets the mood, tone and pace at which the drama unfolds. The aria is used as an expressive melody. It is not generally performed by a singer, but by musical instruments. It can be used to express two or more expression at once during the storyline. The recitative describes the events that evolve. It can also be used to describe and thought, or emotion portrayed during the storyline. A ballet typically is used to describe the them. A dancer usually gives off drama by their moves, dancing with accompanied music. Acts and scenes help to layout the drama of the storyline. They help the drama of the story to progress. An overture is an instrumental piece normally heard at the beginning of an opera. Like the opening storyline. The libretto is a booklet to the show. It describes stage directions. It can help translate the opera into the language of the audience.

The people during the Baroque period were intrigued with drama. They began to use instruments to show the difference between soft and loud, they liked the contrast. Composers began to look at instruments when they composed music. They began to become more precise with which instrument should be played with which composition. The increased use of instruments caused an increase in the people becoming fans of certain sounds. A concerto took many forms during the Baroque era. It was simply composed of many diverse voices, instruments or both. It later developed into a piece of music that contained a soloist player or multiple instrumental soloist. Virtuoso means to excel in your skill or craft. The increased use instruments and contrasting sounds with voices had performers practicing and becoming the best at what they did. It became clear who was an above average performer. There became virtuoso composers meaning they were accomplished in their works, or a virtuoso performer could mean they were following as their career.

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