la musique au moyen-age 


            The occupation of Rome by Alaric in 410 after J-C marks the end of old civilization. During several centuries the church will impose its spiritual power on the artistic culture.

        To the Middle Ages, the music arises under two aspects; Monk and Layman. In painting “the primitive ones” also will be very inspired by Christianity.

        According to the schools, Italian or French and according to the time, the subjects is represented, either in effigy, or during an event of their life. The music will be first of all monodic (only one vote) then polyphonic (several voices) and especially for the first time it will be noted.

            During the first millenium the music will be primarily monodic.

            I in IXme century it is influenced by the art of the Jews of Jerusalem.
In the sacred music, the psalms and the anthems, whose bible provides the text, constitute the liturgical repertory.

They are sung by a voice alone for the psalm, by the chorus of faithful for the anthems, sometimes accompanied by a flute. At the beginning of Vme century the Treaty of Music of St Augustin is born and studies the rhythm in its first part.

.    Grégoire Le Grand

        The abundance of works, of religious and musical value sometimes debatable, the diversity of church Greek, Latin, Spanish, obliges the Roman pontiffs with a reform and a coding of the liturgical songs.

        It is to the pope Gregoire the Large one, into 590 after J-C, which we owe this final reform of the liturgical songs. From this reform nearly one century the Gregorian chant will be born later, which one also calls the purest style “plainsong” of the catholic song, the term “lime pit” or” planus ", indicating a song with equal voices, of uniform movement, without no voice being detached by a more powerful or higher emission.

        Until there the Christian music had been transmitted by oral tradition. From Xme century it will be noted in neumes, at the origin series of accents of points, and features placed at the top of the text. 

Later a copyist imagined to draw a red line, to fix a sound fixes, “F”, one second yellow line was added for “C”. The theorist Guido d' Arezzo had the idea to invent for the sound “the” one third line (in 1026) 


         Gregoire the large one founds Schola Cantorum, intended to train the clerks who will propagate new melody interpretation. The Gregorian chant will rest on authentic” and “plagaux” modes known as “and form the system of the “ecclesiastical modes”, reserved with the voice of men.

It should however be specified that no artistic consideration guided this reform. The music was supposed to support meditation.

    Modes ecclésiastiques


            Beside the religious erudite music, exist profane songs. It is necessary to await IXme century, to see appearing many nonreligious compositions which show the desire to widen the field of the art, but which one has no sample, because the church condemned them, and the monks neglected to copy them. 

It develops the art of the troubadours then.

            With XIII me the century, most famous of them Adam of the Market (1240-1287) made represent at the court of Naples a part preceding the future French comic opera. They are the troubadours and trouveres who will take part in the establishment of the measured music. 

        They forsake Latin for the vulgar language. Composing their melody on worms, they must give a rhythm to their melody to put up itself with the rhythm specific to the poems put in music. 


   Beginning of the notation mensurale

        One thus attends the introduction of the measurement which is opposed to the Gregorian chant not measured. The polyphony will upset the musical art starting from XIIme century and in XIIIme century the figures of duration appear.


        Figures of duration

        Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377) and Philippe of Vitry (1291-1361) in XIVme century émancipe the musical writing which takes the name of Ars Nova, with compositions with three or four votes, and sometimes, with instrumental accompaniment.

        They improve the notation by indicating the measurement by signs placed after the key.

They introduce " tiny " “semi-tiny” the etc. Their repertory also includes masses, and in Italy, three new kinds are created; the madrigal, hunting, the ballade.

        The Free-Flemish school in XVme century develops the counterpoint, i.e. the superposition of several voices, or several melodies.
From IXme century the use of the instruments settles, but until XIme century they differ little from the instruments gréco-Romans.
Between XIme and XVme century the use of the string instruments develops, with the toothing-stone, the lute, the tympanon which will give rise to the piano, the winds with the flutes, the horn, the horn, the oboe, the trumpet, and the organ which will become the specific instrument of the Middle Ages.        

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            The dramatic Latin shape, first outline of the medieval theatre, takes the name of “liturgical drama”.

            By the XI in XIIIme century these parts grow rich by profane elements, become increasingly spectacular.

            From the XIV in XVme century the actors become professional and express themselves in profane language.
It is the end of XVme century and thousand years of history of the music have been just completed with the end of the Middle Ages.