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The two great architectural styles of the medieval age were the Romanesque and the Gothic. The Romanesque, with its round-arch forms borrowed from classical buildings, is a massive style, characterized by solid pillars supporting the great stone roof vaults that were a new feature of construction. It is often crowded with imaginative sculpture. During the twelfth century, ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

In the second half of the twelfth century, the new cathedral of Notre Dame was the focus of an extraordinary effort by Leonin and others to create a whole new musical liturgy. Thanks to their efforts and to the presence of the increasingly independent University of Paris, whose curriculum was aimed towards ecclesiastical careers, the city became a ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

The seven centuries covered here saw, essentially, the making of modern Europe. They saw the rise of the papacy and its numerous conflicts. They saw the shaping and reshaping of nations and empires. Yet beyond, and often because of, these conflicts and changes, they also saw the formation of great cultures. As nation met nation in ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

‘Medieval’ as a concept is very hard to define, and the period itself is just as difficult to delineate. It was a term invented by Renaissance writers who wished to make a distinction between their modernity and what had gone before. Although the onset of the Renaissance is often taken to be around the beginning of the fourteenth century, ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

Before music was written down, musicians either memorized or improvised what they played or sang. Very little is known about the earliest European music because it was not recorded in notation. The music theorist Isidore of Seville (c. ad 559–636) even said that melodies could not be written down, and two centuries passed before a system of notation was ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

Guido of Arezzo (b. c. ad 990/5) was perhaps the most influential music theorist of all time. He not only wrote one of the most widely read treatises of the Middle Ages, the Micrologus, but he also invented the system of lines for notating music that is still used today and a method of teaching melodies using the syllables ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

Winchester Troper: one of the earliest sources of polyphony, an English manuscript dating from the early eleventh century and originally used in Winchester; now in Cambridge. Montpellier Codex: an important source of motets, compiled during the thirteenth century; now in the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire, Montpellier. Roman de Fauvel: a satirical poem about the church written in the early fourteenth ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

Composers of the twentieth century and up to the present have often been drawn to the music of the medieval and Renaissance periods. A relatively early example is Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971), who became interested in the fourteenth-century technique of hocket and in the harmonic experiments of the Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo (c. 1561–1613). Hocket has since inspired many composers, both ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

The term contenance angloise (‘English manner’), was first coined by the poet Martin Le Franc in his poem ‘Le Champion des Dames’ (c. 1440–42), in which he described new French music and implied that Du Fay and Binchois had ‘taken on the contenance angloise and followed Dunstaple’. Although the poet did not define the term, the text immediately before this ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

Du Fay’s Mass L’homme armé was one of the first of several dozen Masses of that name composed between the years 1450 and 1700. ‘L’homme armé’ (‘The Armed Man’) was a popular, probably satirical, tune which may have been aimed at the less-valiant members of the French army during the last stages of the Hundred Years’ War. Attracted by ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

The medieval plucked lyre had six strings which passed over a bridge resting on the front of a hollow resonant body. These strings were secured at the base of the instrument and were fixed to a yoke which was shaped like a crossbar between two arms projecting upwards from the sides of the body. In order to play the instrument, ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

The medieval harp was built on a roughly triangular frame, with the hollow soundbox held against the player’s body and the strings running from it to the top part of the triangle, positioned like the crossbar of a bicycle frame. The strings were made of various materials, including twisted sheep’s intestines, horsehair and metals such as brass ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

The medieval psaltery was a flat box with strings running across its top; it was plucked either by the fingers or by a quill held in each hand. The harp-psaltery, or rote, took the form of a right-angled triangle with the apex pointing into the musician’s lap. Although played like a harp, in construction it was more similar ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

The medieval pipe was played by blowing directly into a mouthpiece, like a recorder or penny whistle. Although it usually had only three holes to finger, by varying the force of blowing, players could achieve a working range of about one-and-a-half octaves. It was played with the right hand; the left hand held a thick, stubby beater ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie

The medieval bagpipe consisted of an animal-skin bag and a series of wooden pipes. The player held the bag under the arm and inflated it by blowing down one of the pipes. A second pipe, the ‘chanter’, contained a series of holes on which to play a melody, while the remainder, the ‘drones’, maintained a continuous, unvarying ...

Source: Classical Music Encyclopedia, founding editor Stanley Sadie
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