Table Summary

Summary of 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 rhythm)

General Features

The medieval and also Renaissance durations each experienced a an essential transition in the structure of western music. Throughout the middle Ages, monophony evolved into polyphony (see music Texture). During the Renaissance, the shell harmony of the Middle ages was thrived by true harmony.

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

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

Credit: Zman
Credit: windy domain
Credit: Mezzofortist

To recap: the principal form of Western art music in the Dark periods was Gregorian chant, which was monophonic. Polyphonic music arised as chants to be embellished with additional melody lines; in time, purely original polyphonic music was likewise composed (along with polyphonic music developed on optimal of Gregorian chants). The convention of structure polyphonic music upon an existing melody would linger for centuries, however; just in the Baroque era walk it end up being standard practice to write wholly initial music.

Secular Music

Throughout the center Ages, advances in music practice and theory were driven greatly by sacred music. End the centuries, these breakthroughs diffused come secular music (non-religious music).I61,3

Since ancient times, secular vocal music had actually been composed for popular entertainment. From classical times through the early Middle Ages, this compositions featured monophonic texture (see music Texture); common subjects were heroic legends, love stories, and satirical observations. In the Dark Ages, minstrels (a general term for wandering performers) were the principal group of professional secular musicians.I18,3

In the later medieval period, minstrels to be joined by such groups as the troubadours (of southern France), trouveres (northern France), and also minnesingers and meistersingers (Germany). In addition to composing monophonic works, these teams introduced polyphony to secular music. Prefer their spiritual counterparts, polyphonic secular works were often built upon one existing melody (rather than being composed completely from scratch) up until the Baroque era.

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Renaissance Music

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

Throughout the later medieval period, composers elevated polyphonic music come staggering heights that complexity. Renaissance composers reigned in this tendency, preferring melodies and also harmonies of higher simplicity and also clarity. Renaissance music is additionally notable because that its ample use of imitation (the repetition or sports of a melody, often at a different pitch), which has actually remained a an essential element of west music ever before since. Imitation expands and amplifies the impact of a melody, and serves as a unifying pressure throughout a music work.I113-17,3

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

shell harmonytrue harmony
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Credit: Gringer (modified)

Generally speaking, leadership that Western culture belonged to France throughout the later on Middle Ages, then to Italy throughout the Renaissance. Music is an exemption to this general account. While later medieval music was indeed led through France, Renaissance music was led by 3 regions, consecutively: Burgundy, climate the Low Countries, climate Italy.3

Instrumental Music

Vocal works (sacred and secular) to be the predominant kind of music transparent the medieval and also Renaissance periods; crucial music served chiefly together accompaniment because that singers or dancers. Nonetheless, the Renaissance walk witness the increase of independent instrumental music. Critical works the the Renaissance duration were mostly composed because that lute, keyboard (organ, harpsichord, or clavichord), or small ensembles (strings, woodwinds, and/or brass).I142,3