Similar to other components like religion, music has evolved with time. Characteristics of music in the medieval era are undeniably different from characteristics of music in later times. Evolution of music in classical…
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Occasionally, certain similarities in musical characteristics may emerge between different eras. However, there are unique and notable distinction between musical styles from the medieval and that from baroque or renaissance periods.
Medieval, also referred to as the Middle Ages, is characterized by monophonic musical texture. Monophonic texture has a single melody. Melodic lines are not only simple but also pure in vocal uniformity. In medieval music, the relationship between voices is in perfect consonance. In terms of accompanying sounds, medieval music used limited instruments. Absence of instruments can be witnessed in the iconic music, Canticles of Ecstasy by Hildegard. In fact, simple instruments like bells and flutes were introduced towards the end of the medieval period. Among the most famous composers of medieval music include Hildegard von Bingen from Germany, Guillaume, de Machaut from France and Francesco Landini from Italy (Smith 29). Despite the difference in the composers’ cultural backgrounds, all their music had pure and solemn melodic textures. This style of solemnity and purity in melody is a unique characteristic of medieval music.
Renaissance is synonymous to rebirth. This was a period of renewal. Renaissance witnessed increased advances in social, cultural and economic aspects of life. Music from this period evolved substantially. Medieval music was monophonic with pure melodies and limited use of instruments. Contrarily, renaissance musical styles disregarded monophonic melodies at the expense of polyphonic melodies. In medieval music, there was no range in tonal variations. However, renaissance favored a wide range of tonal variation and often blended different tones to create intervallic polyphony (Smith 31). Unlike medieval music with only one tone, renaissance music comprised of two-four tones. Multiplicty in tones is evidenced in Farnon’s song, The
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