Written by Leonid Davydov
In this class, Dr. Power opens up with a discussions on ways to show devotion. Some answers are availability, public display, and voice are some of the examples given which show devotion towards something or someone. The discussion leads us into music during the medieval, and later the renaissance, periods.
Music during the medieval period was one of the ways to show devotion towards the church. While talking in monasteries was often not allow, singing prayers was performed multiple times a day. One such prayer, Kýrie Eléison, was performed in class and demonstrated how sheet music was used during the medieval times. Unlike current sheet music, medieval sheet music contained neumes, notations to indicate pitch changes, which allowed the song to be performed the same way across different regions and languages. Neumatic notation eventually evolved into modern music notation we use today. Music during the medieval times was mostly used to decorate the words, however the concept of polyphony (music in which two or more musical parts played at the same time) was introduced during the period which allowed for a more exciting performance and is still widely used in today’s music. It is worth noting that the church had a lot of control over music during this time and certain practices were not permitted.
During the Renaissance, the increase in trade and beginning of colonialism resulted in a higher middle class population, rise in humanism and intellectualism, emphasis on structure, and interest in ancient Greece and Rome. During this period, we saw further shift in the way music was created and performed. Music became more structured, words were easier to understand, and songs weren’t created only to show devotion to the church but also as a way of personal expression. The invention of the printing press in the 1400s allowed music to be more easily distributed and consumed. One of the most famous figures in music during that time was a French composers Josquin des Prez. Considered as a master of the notes, he wrote sacred and secular music.
At the end of class the professor performed a musical piece using a lute. It reminded me of something one would hear in movie set in ancient Arabian setting