Table Summary

Summary the Medieval and also Renaissance Music
Dark Agesca. 500-1000later middle Agesca. 1000-1400Renaissanceca. 1400-1600
musicGregorian chantpolyphonic vocal music (sacred and secular)
notationcrude notation (approximate clues of pitch)staff notation (precise indication of pitch and also rhythm)

General Features

The medieval and Renaissance durations each saw a an important transition in the structure of western music. During the middle Ages, monophony advanced into polyphony (see musical Texture). During the Renaissance, the shell harmony of the Middle periods was flourished by true harmony.

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Transitions in the structure of western Music
Middle AgesRenaissanceBaroque
monophony > polyphonyshell harmony > true harmonychurch modes > major/minor scales

Throughout the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, Western arts music was based upon two kinds of scales: major and also minor (see Tonality). Medieval and Renaissance music, top top the various other hand, was based on a collection of eight scales, known as the church modes.4

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Credit: Mezzofortist

To recap: the principal type of Western art music in the Dark periods was Gregorian chant, which to be monophonic. Polyphonic music emerged as chants were embellished with additional melody lines; in time, purely original polyphonic music was likewise composed (along with polyphonic music constructed on height of Gregorian chants). The convention of building polyphonic music top top an existing melody would linger because that centuries, however; just in the Baroque era did it become standard exercise to create wholly original music.

Secular Music

Throughout the center Ages, breakthroughs in music practice and also theory to be driven mainly by sacred music. Over the centuries, these advancements diffused come secular music (non-religious music).I61,3

Since ancient times, secular vocal music had actually been written for popular entertainment. From antiquity through the early on Middle Ages, these compositions featured monophonic structure (see music Texture); common subjects to be heroic legends, love stories, and satirical observations. In the Dark Ages, minstrels (a basic term for wandering performers) were the principal group of skilled secular musicians.I18,3

In the later medieval period, minstrels were joined by such teams as the troubadours (of southerly France), trouveres (northern France), and also minnesingers and also meistersingers (Germany). In addition to writing monophonic works, these groups introduced polyphony to secular music. Like their sacred counterparts, polyphonic secular functions were often developed upon an existing melody (rather 보다 being composed completely from scratch) up until the Baroque era.

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Renaissance Music

The ax "Renaissance" denotes the renewal of classical culture (i.e. Greco-Roman culture). In some instances this rebirth was quite direct; sculptors, because that instance, reawakened the timeless statue through studying old originals. V no surviving old music to emulate, however, composers took component in the Renaissance by embracing the general classical principles of simplicity, balance, order, and also clarity (see western Aesthetics).

Throughout the later on medieval period, composers elevated polyphonic music to staggering heights the complexity. Renaissance composers reigned in this tendency, to like melodies and also harmonies of greater simplicity and also clarity. Renaissance music is likewise notable for its ample usage of imitation (the repetition or sports of a melody, regularly at a various pitch), which has remained a an essential element of western music ever before since. Imitation expands and amplifies the effect of a melody, and serves as a unifying pressure throughout a music work.I113-17,3

The Renaissance additionally witnessed the take on of sweet true harmony in ar of dry shell harmony. "Shell harmony" has actually two parts: a root note and its fifth. "True harmony" has three parts: a source note, that is third, and its fifth.I86-89,3

shell harmonytrue harmony
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Generally speaking, leadership the Western society belonged come France during the later Middle Ages, then to Italy throughout the Renaissance. Music is an exception to this basic account. While later on medieval music was certainly led by France, Renaissance music to be led by 3 regions, consecutively: Burgundy, then the Low Countries, then Italy.3

Instrumental Music

Vocal works (sacred and also secular) to be the predominant form of music throughout the medieval and also Renaissance periods; critical music served chiefly as accompaniment for singers or dancers. Nonetheless, the Renaissance go witness the climb of independent important music. Instrumental works that the Renaissance duration were mostly composed because that lute, keyboard (organ, harpsichord, or clavichord), or small ensembles (strings, woodwinds, and/or brass).I142,3