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Music of the Middle Ages 450 AD-1450 AD Monday: The Middle Ages are also known as the Medieval Period. There were three classes of people: First Class: the nobility, these were the rich landowners Second Class: the clergy, these were priests and monks that worked for the church Third Class: the peasants, these were the poor farmers. They rarely lived past the age of 30 and ate bread and turnips for meals. Tuesday: A Product of the Church • Music during the Middle Ages was an important part of Christian worship. • The church served as an important supporter of the arts, specifically music. • Throughout the period, the majority of composers were associated with and supported by the church. A Product of the Church • People did not have a system of notation (writing down music) in the early part of the middle ages. • Notating music was difficult and a timeconsuming process, so it was only in the churches that such work could be done on a regular basis. Sacred Music • During the Middle Ages, the church was very important to the people. • Music that is religious is called sacred music. • Sacred music of the Middle Ages began with plainsong- a simple type of chant in Latin, that was easy for everyone to understand. The words from the plainsong chant came directly from the Roman Catholic Mass (church service). Gregorian Chant • Gregorian chant is the most well-known form of plainsong chant. • Chants began as a single melody, also known as monophony, of sacred texts. • Monks began to write down these chants on four line staves using square notes called neumes. • Over time composers embellished chant to become more and more complex. Secular Music • Secular music is non-religious music. • Secular music became popular towards the end of the Middle Ages. • Secular songs were simple and had only one melody. They were usually faster than sacred songs and used the common language instead of Latin. Polyphony is Born • Polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more melodies at the same time. • Complex Polyphony demanded specialized training for composers, and its development became the primary focus for composers from the thirteenth century (1400’s) on. Minstrels • Minstrels were people that travelled to different castles and towns to perform. They sang secular songs, told stories, and performed tricks for people. • Their songs and stories were about love and life. • Sometimes they spread gossip from town to town in addition to performing. The End of the Middle Ages • Towards the end of the Middle Ages life became better and people became more civilized. • People began to focus more on themselves and less on religion. • This is when polyphony and secular music started to become more and more popular.