Hildegard von Bingen*

(1098-1179) Germany

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– Benedictine abbess, visionary, writer, composer

– Composed many liturgical songs (monophonic)

– highly melismatic, often with recurrent melodic units

– close relationship between music and text

* Odro Virtutum

– early example of liturgical drama

– morality play

Guillaume de Machaut*

(c. 1300-1377) France

– poet, composer, representative of the ars nova

– influential in the development of the motet

-among first to compose polyphonic setting of poetry in fixed forms, to write in 4 parts


* Messe de Nostre Dame

-earliest known complete setting of the ordinary of the mass 

Perotin *

c. 1200 believed to be French

– Most famous member of Notre Dame School of Polyphony

– Can be attached to compositions because of student ‘Anonymous IV’

– Composed organum

– Earliest polyphony

-cantus firms

-discant above

– Works preserved in the Magnus Liber Organi

– involved in revision and updating


Francesco Landini

(1325-1397) Italian

– composer, poet, organist, singer, and instrument maker

– Italian Ars Nova (‘Trencento Style’)

-154 works

– 89 ballatas for 2 voices

– 42 for 3 voices

– Style had many facets:

– simple dane song to highly stylized  with 

canonic or isorhythmic structure




“the same rhythm” (greek)

– arranges a fixed pattern of pitches with a repeating rhythmic pattern


Talea – order of durations or rhythms, repeated within a tenor melody whose pitch content or series, called the color, varied in the number of members from the talea

Ars Nova

“14th-century Polyphony”

– Philippe de Vitry’s treatise (1322)

– notational techniques made possible

– centered in France from Roman de Fauvel ( c. 1310-1314) [french poem, famous musical arrangement by de Vitry];to death of Machaut


– Lyrics of love poems might be sung above sacred texts; secular music merging w/ the sacred


– developments in notation allowed for greater independence of voices

Gregorian Chant

(Plainchant or plainsong)

official monophonic unison chant (originally unaccompanied) of the christian liturgies

– latin texts


one syllable of text to one note


small clusters of (2-10) notes may accompany a syllable


Essentially neumatic in style, but florid passages embedded in them


A medieval entertainer or minstrel

Troubadors /


(French) poet-musicians, often of noble birth


Trouv;re – contemporary w/ and influenced by troubadors, but composed their works in northern dialects of France



basic element of notation prior to invention of 5 line notation (9th century – 15th century)


tradition of lyric and song writing in Germany (12th – 14th centuries)


minne = love (main subject)


German lyric poet of the 14th – 16th centuries


– carried on an developed traditions of medieval;Minnes;ngers


A response, usually sung in chant to a psalm or some other part of a religious service, such as vespers or at a mass

Guido d’Arezzo

(991/992 – after 1033)

– music theorist

– regarded as inventor of modern staff notation that replaced neumatic notation

– Developed notation and solgeggio as technologies for teaching


Micrologus (1026) 

– outlines singing and teaching practice for Gregorian chant

– discussion of composition of polyphonic music

– parallel organum

– free organum



Guidonian hand

Pope Gregory I

c. 540 – 604

– single most important figure in the development of Roman liturgy and chant


– traditionally seen as father of ‘Gregorian chant’

Bernart de Ventadorn

(c. 1130-1140 to 1190-1200) France


– prominent troubador (became one of the most famous)

– large amount of music that survives because of its popularity

Nokter ‘Balbulus’ *

(‘the stammerer’)

(c. 840 – 912) Switzerland

– Benedictine monk, scholar, poet


Liber hymnorum (884)

– cycle of striking texts covering the church year, to be sung to the melodies of sequences

Adam de la Halle

(1237?-1288) was a French-born trouvère, poet and musician, who broke with the long-established tradition of writing liturgical poetry and music to be an early founder of secular theater in France.


His musical and literary works encompass virtually every genre current in the late 13th century. He is one of the few medieval musicians to be credited with both monophonic and polyphonic music.


Liber usualis

book of commenly used Gregorian chants compiled by the monks of the Abbey of Solesmes in France in 1896

most versions of the ordinary chants for the Mass

John Dunstable

(c1390; d 24 Dec 1453 ). English composer. He was the most eminent of an influential group of English composers active in the first half of the 15th century


Dunstaple’s stylistic trait of using full;triadic harmony, along with a liking for the;interval of the third.


Leonel Power

(d;Canterbury,;5 June 1445;).;English;composer;and;theorist. He shared with Dunstaple the leadership of English style in the influential decades between 1410 and 1440. Somewhat overshadowed in reputation by his probably younger contemporary,;Leonel;(as the sources usually name him) shows a similarly high level of musical craftsmanship and originality in an output only slightly smaller.


Notre Dame School

The group of composers working at or near the;Notre Dame Cathedral;in;Paris;from about 1160 to 1250, along with the music they produced,


Leonin and Peronin


The earliest motets are the Notre Dame motets, written by composers such as Leonin and Perotin during the 1200s. These motets were polyphonic, with a different text in each voice, and employed the rhythmic modes.


(fl.;1150s ;;d.;? 1201) is the first known significant composer of;polyphonic;organum. He was probably;French, and he probably lived and worked inParis;at the;Notre Dame Cathedral, and was the earliest member of the;Notre Dame school;of;polyphony;who is known by name.


All that is known about him comes from the writings of a later student at the cathedral known as;Anonymous IV, an;Englishman;who left a treatise on theory and who mentions L;onin as the composer of the;Magnus Liber, the “great book” of organum. Much of the;Magnus Liber;is devoted to;clausulae;melismatic;portions of;Gregorian chant;which were extracted into separate pieces, with the original note values greatly slowed down, and provided with a fast-moving upper part. L;onin was also probably the first composer to use the;rhythmic modes, and possibly also to invent a notation for them

Francesco Landini

(ca.1325 or 1335 ;;September 2,;1397) was an;Italian;composer,;organist, singer, poet and instrument maker. He was one of the most famous and revered composers of the second half of the 14th century, and by far the most famous composer in Italy.


Landini was the foremost exponent of the Italian;Trecento;style, sometimes also called the “Italian ars nova”. His output was almost exclusively secular.

Phillipe de Vitry

31 October;1291;;;9 June;1361) was a;French;composer,;music theorist;and;poet. He was an accomplished, innovative, and influential composer, and may also have been the author of the;Ars Nova;treatise.


Vitry has been most famous in music history for writing the;Ars Nova;(1322), a treatise on music, which gave its name to the music of the entire era.;


innovations in;musical notation, particularly;mensural;and;rhythmic, with which he was credited within a century of their inception. Such innovations as are exemplified in his stylistically-attributed motets for the;Roman de Fauvel;were particularly important, and made possible the free and quite complex music of the next hundred years


is in general any;lyric-driven French song, usually;polyphonic;and;secular. A singer specializing in chansons is known as a “chanteur”; a collection of chansons, especially from the;late Middle Ages;and;Renaissance, is also known as a;chansonnier.



From the 9th century onward, trope refers to additions of new music to pre-existing chants in use in the Western Christian Church (Planchart 2001).

Three types of addition are found in music manuscripts: (1) new melismas without text (mostly unlabelled or called “trope” in manuscripts) (2) addition of a new text to a pre-existing melisma (more often called;prosula,;prosa,;verba;or;versus’) (3) new verse or verses, consisting of both text and music (mostly called trope, but also laudes or versus in manuscripts) (Planchart 2001). The new verses can appear preceding or following the original material, or in between phrases.

In the Medieval era, troping was an important compositional technique where local composers could add their own voice to the body of liturgical music. These added ideas are valuable tools to examine compositional trends in the Middle Ages, and help modern scholars determine the point of origin of the pieces, as they typically mention regional historical figures (St. Saturnin of Toulouse, for example would appear in tropes composed in Southern France). Musical collections of tropes are called tropers.


Cantus Firmus

“fixed song”) is a pre-existing melody (usually taken from plainsong) forming the basis of a polyphonic composition.

Mass Ordinary

(parts of)

chants that have texts that are invariable(words remain same for each rendition of the chant though the music to which they are set may differ).


forms the core of the mass liturgy


Kryrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei

Mass Proper

chants have variable texts that are appropriate to the season 

Guillaume Dufay

(1397-1474) French composer and theorist

– acknowledged by contemporaries as leading composer of his day

almost 200 works survive:

– 84 songs

– 8 complete masses

– 13 isorhythmic motets

– ect.


Most pieces are for three voices, treble dominated, intended for performance with singer and at least two instrumentalist

Johannes Ockeghem

(1410-1497) Franco-Flemish composer

Considered one of the greatest composers of the 15th century


His Missa ‘Fors seulement was one of first parody Masses, based on one of his own chansons


-surviving works:

– 14 masses

– 10 motets

– 20 chansons



– rich polyphonic texture

– all voices melodically significant

– hierarchically equal

– thematically independent


Unlike other 15th century composers:

– shows relatively little interest in imitative exchanges or declamatory word-setting

– preferred instead the continuous unfolding 

of pure melody, and an ever-changing array  of texture, harmony and sonority


Mensural Notation

the musical notation system which was used in European music from the later part of the 13th century until about 1600. “Mensural” refers to the ability of this system to notate complex rhythms with great exactness and flexibility. Mensural notation was the first system in the development of European music that systematically used individual note shapes to denote temporal durations. In this, it differed from its predecessor, a system of rhythmic modes, which had been the first way to notate rhythm. Mensural notation is most closely associated with the successive periods of the late medieval Ars nova and the Franco-Flemish school of Renaissance music.

13th Century Motet

The earliest motets arose, in the thirteenth century (Bent, 1997), out of the organum tradition exemplified in the Notre Dame school of Léonin and Pérotin. The motet probably arose fromclausula sections, usually strophic interludes, in a longer sequence of organum, to which upper voices were added.[2] Usually the clausula represented a strophic sequence in Latin which was sung as a discant over a cantus firmus, which typically was a Gregorian chant fragment with different words from the discant. The motet took a definite rhythm from the words of the verse, and as such appeared as a brief rhythmic interlude in the middle of the longer, more chantlike organum.

The practice of descant over a cantus firmus marked the beginnings of counterpoint in Western music. From these first motets arose a medieval tradition of secular motets. These were two or three part compositions in which several different texts, sometimes in different vernacular languages, were sung simultaneously over a Latin cantus firmus that once again was usually adapted from a passage of Gregorian chant. It is suspected that, for the sake of intelligibility, in performance the cantus firmus and one or another of the vocal lines were performed on instruments. Among the trouvères, Robert de Reins La Chievre and Richart de Fournival composed motets.


Most 13th century motets were based on sacred Latin tenors derived from chant. During the second half of the 13th century, three voice polytextual motet became standard. 

14th Century madrigal

-vocal composition of Italian origin, usually unaccompanied

– texts usually secular (amorous, satirical, or allegorical)


did not adopt a more or less fixed form until the 1340s, some 20 years after its first appearance. From having a musical form that basically followed that of the verse, it settled into a standard length of two or three stanzas, each of three lines and each being set to the same music, the final stanza closing with a ‘ritornello’ of one or two lines, usually in contrasting metre. highly melismatic, particularly in the upper voice


most famous composers of early madrigal were north Italians, Gherardello da Firenze and Jacopo da Bologna

14th Century Motet

(isorhythmic motet)

earliest examples provided by de Vitry

– tenors are laid out in segments of identical rhythm; as in some earlier motets, the rhythmic formula may be varied after a certain number of repetitions. Now, however, this all takes place on a much larger scale. The tenor is longer, the rhythms are more complex, and the whole line moves so ponderously against the faster notes of the upper voices that it can no longer be recognized as a melody. Instead, the tenor functions as a foundation for the entire polyphonic structure


– color and talea

15th Century Motet

polyphonic section of a chant in which both voices were written in discant-style counterpoint and proceeded at approx. the same rate. The clausula was a distinct section, with a final cadence; all kinds of motion were used, and the rules of consonance were respected


– closed form in discant style, in which a chant melisma is heard twice by the tenor. each clausula was kept distinct, terminated by a distinct cadence.


monophonic song from 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. Straddle dividing line between sacred and secular music


– by end of 12th century meant serious, non-liturgical Latin song wit ha metrical text on any scared or secular subject. 


– rule: conductus’ melody was newly composed, not borrowed or adapted from plainchant


style of writing in which a text was set syllabically in note-against-note polyphony. Both voices used same text

Early Organum

polyphony used in liturgical music from the late 9th century to c. 1250


– means “organized” or “planned” music.

– consisted of a chant melody and 1-3 additional voice parts derived by duplicating the chant melody in parallel motion in a specific harmonic interval that was regarded as a consonance (the octave, the fifth, and the fourth)

Franco of Cologne (Ars cantus mensurabalis)

13th century theorist; his notation system is outlined in treatise “the art of mensurable music”


principles formed the basis for a system of notation that was used for two centuries


– believed different note shapes should be used to signify different note values

– instead of creating new symbols, he created system that freed existing ones from ambiguity


recognized four different sing-note shapes:

– double long

– long

– breve

– semibreve


“hiccup” in French

technique used by 13th and 14th century composers to animate and aerate the polyphonic texture.


– rests interrupt the flow of melody in such a way that another voice supplies the notes that would have been sung by the resting voice, dividing the melody between the voices

Johannes Tinctoris

(1397-1474) Flemish theorist and composer

– devised strict rules for introducing dissonances, limiting them to unstressed beats and syncopated passages (suspensions) at cadences


– wrote earliest printed music dictionary

– set down rules for correct and effective improvisation


Became a fixed element of Vespers in the medieval Roman rite, where its verses were sung to special psalm tones, the choice of which was determined by an accompanying proper anitphon.;


Between the 15th and 17th centuries, Western composers including Dunstable, Dufay, Lassus, Palestina, Monteverdi, and Schutz set the Magnificat;to polyphony more frequently that any other liturgical text outside the mass ordinary

Magnus liber organi

“The Great Book of Organum” (c.1170)

believed to by compiled by Leonin

– cycle of two part Graduals, Alleluias, and responsories for the entire church year.

-two-voice plainchant settings for liturgical use

Cantus Firmus Mass

When a mass based every movement off the same cantus firmus. English composers were first to do so, it soon spread through the Continent, and by the second half of the 15th century it became customary

Imitation Mass

became common later in the 16th century. Instead of basing mass on a single voice of the chanson, the composer subjects all its voices to free fantasy and expansion. In the process, such a mass can take over many attributes of the model, including its;characteristic;motives, fugal statements and answers, and even its general sturcture

Motto Mass

Way of obtaining thematic interconnection by using the same material in all sections of a mass. At first, the connection consisted only in beginning each movement with the same melodic motive, usually in the treble; this was called a motto mass

musica ficta

“false” or “feigned” music; practice of raising or lowering certain notes by a half step gave special flavor to much 14th century It. and Fr. music.


– such alterations resulted in flatted or sharped notes outside the standard gamut. were implied or indicated in manuscripts by accidentals