Time line of the different eras of music history
Created by musicwms on Jul 14, 2008
Last updated: 03/05/10 at 01:20 PM
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The Renaissance--or "rebirth''--actually started closer to the end of the Middle Ages. It was a time of great creativity, exploration, and adventure. The arts, the sciences, and learning all became an important part of life, at least for the wealthier people during this time period. During the Renaissance period, the invention of the printing press and movable type were an important development. The music world was affected because it became possible to print and copy music pieces and send them all over Europe. The printing press made the music of the great composers of the Renaissance and Middle Ages popular in the Western world. Renaissance music continued to include both church and popular music., but a greater importance was placed on using instruments in music. In general, music in the Renaissance, along with all the other arts and sciences, developed and expanded in many ways never before thought possible.
Hildegard was the tenth child of a German nobleman. It was tradition that the tenth child should be dedicated to the church, so Hildegard was sent to a convent at age 8 and became a nun at age 15. She became the abbess, or leader, of a Benedictine monastery. The Benedictines were the musicians of the Roman Catholic Church. Hildegard wrote large amounts of music for the church, but instead of writing it for the male voices of the monks, she wrote it for the female voices of the nuns to sing. She also wrote many religious books, books on herbs and medicine, and even a play. Because of her many writings, Hildegard is considered one of the greatest women of the Middle Ages.
In the year A.D. 590, a new pope was selected whose name was Pope Gregory the Great. He was the pope from 590 to 604. During Pope Gregory's 14 years, he decided that the chants, or songs of the church, should be organized and written down. If they were in writing, they could be taken to churches all over Europe, and all of the same chants could be sung in every church. The traditional story is that Pope Gregory sang all of these melodies to a scribe after they had been sung to him by a dove. In paintings from the Middle Ages, Pope Gregory is shown as sitting on his throne with a dove on his shoulder. The dove whispered into his ear and a scribe wrote down the words from the pope's mouth. The dove represents the Spirit of God. While this is a lovely story, in reality, Pope Gregory did not have anything to do with the actual writing down or transcription of the chants; however, he did have a great deal to do with their organization. These same chants have been passed down in written and oral form since that time, and are part of the Catholic church services of today.
Almost all of the music from the Middle Ages was vocal music. Instruments were not allowed in churches or monasteries for most of the Middle Ages. Not until about 1100 were instruments used to play with voices. Of all the instruments, the organ was used the most often.