Classical Medieval Music (800-1400)

The term Medieval covers the period from 800 to 1400. The Middle Ages finds Latin Gregorian chant largely established in Western Europe. This will form the basis of much that follows. Early polyphony has the single melodic line of the chant elaborated by parallel chant in simple organum. Further elaboration of the chant is found in Paris at Notre Dame in the 12th century with the composers Léonin (fl.c.1163-1190) and Pérotin (c.1200). At the same time troubadours, active in Provence, and their northern counterpart, the trouvères, sing of love and chivalry in monodic songs. In Germany the Minnesinger provide a similar song repertoire in the 13th century, while in France the trouvère Adam de la Halle (c.1230-c.1288) is active with songs, motets and plays, notably Le jeu de Robin et Marion. Polytextual motets and increasing rhythmic complexities are codified in 1320 by Philippe de Vitry in what is now known as the Ars Nova, as opposed to the earlier Ars Antiqua. The polyphonic Messe de Notre Dame of Guillaume Machaut (c.1300-1377), in about 1370, is the first example of a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass by a single composer.

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