The basic essence of medieval songs and music was always religious in nature. They were discovered in numerous types of religious chants that originated in different regions across Europe. The medieval people’s passion for music led to the invention of various musical instruments and by the end of the medieval period, most of the songs were composed using a variety of instruments. Even today, most of those musical instruments are used as well as the majority of songs composed nowadays are inspired by the medieval era.
Explain the medieval period of music
The medieval period of music began with the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD. It advanced in the sixth century and remained popular till the end of the fourteenth throughout which, it was all about church-centered classical music. Although people loved religious music in medieval times, the majority of songs we retrieved were written as liturgical music. Characteristics of Medieval Music:
Medieval music was characterised depending on different attributes. Here is a list of 4 major characteristics of the music of the medieval era:
- Monophony: Prior to the late medieval period, the monophonic chant was popular. In monophonic chants, some other voices were added to the song and moved in synchronization with the primary voice. It was used to characterise the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
- Rhythmic Pattern: Most standardised characteristic, the rhythmic pattern was used in almost every medieval music. It used to add uniformity and sensibility to the entire chant and was quite famous in the 13th century.
- Limited Instrumental: Many medieval kinds of music were vocal, but medieval people also loved instrumental music. It was composed of a wide array of musical instruments, including woodwinds, string, and brass instruments.
- Ligature-based notation: Medieval notations differed greatly from modern notations as they were based on marks rather than rhythmic notations. There were several modifications found in ligature-based notation music between the 11th and 15th centuries.
Famous medieval songs
Here is a list of medieval songs that were very famous in the middle age:Greensleeves: A famous English folk song, Greensleeves, was one of the most popular songs in England during the late 16th century. It was associated with Henry VIII, who wrote it to woo Anne Boleyn, his mistress and then his wife. Yet, it is believed to have no accurate historicity and is believed to be written during the Elizabethan era. The song flowed in a composition style and was heavily influenced by Italian music.
- Song of Roland: Song of Roland was both epic poetry and a traditional medieval song. It was composed in the 10th or 11th century and told the tale of Roland, who fought in the battle of Roncevaux in 778 and was killed in it. This medieval song focused on embellishing Roland’s character and the prevalent ideals of chivalry in the upper middle ages.
- Foy Porter: Foy Porter was a love song composed by the legendary French composer Guillaume de Machaut in the 14th century. It was a monophonic song that was an intricate love poem that dealt with chivalric love, courtly love, and states as well as how love can help someone become a better person.
- L’autrier m’iere levaz: L’autrier m’iere levaz song was composed in France in the 12th century by an unknown composer. It was classified as a pastourelle since it depicted the love between a French knight and a woman of common origin. It was one of the best examples of pastourelle songs.
- Lamento di Tristano: Another well-known medieval ballad depicting the story of Tristan and Iseult was Lamento di Tristano. Tristan and Iseult were medieval lovers, famous in the same way that Romeo and Juliet were in the later Renaissance period. This Italian ballad, which goes back to the 14th century, tells the story of those legendary lovebirds.
People in the medieval era often used music and songs to express their emotions. There are countless examples of medieval music that will make you realize how inventive individuals were throughout the medieval period. We hope you found reading about medieval tunes intriguing.