Eras of Western Music - Paper Sample

Paper Type:  Term paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1221 Words
Date:  2021-06-23

Sacred music during the middle age was composed depending on the available instruments that were to be used. The sacred music was mostly written by different composers. The Gregorian chant was a sacred music genre which was monophonic in nature. A sacred song that was written using this type of style was unaccompanied while being sung in the Roman Catholic Church. There was the use of reciting tones by the singers and also musical motifs were frequently woven together. It was mostly sung by the church choir or people who were of a religious order during the mass. The other genre of sacred music used during the middle age was the ordinary mass music. It was a choral composition that was set in a manner that consisted of invariable portions. Most of them were written to fit in the Catholic Church setting. Musical instruments were used while singing a sacred song that was written using this type of genre. The song could as well be sung independently. These two styles were used to represent the cultural emphasis because the composers used primitive cave drawings, stories which were from the Bible to pass a particular message through the music. Through these genres the church was able to know the progress, it was made according to its strictures, and this helped in the representation of the cultural emphasis on the sacred ideologies.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

During the middle age era, the sacred songs were sung mostly using the plainchant form which was also referred to as monophony. It is whereby a single person sang a single melody without any accompaniment. By the twelfth century, this changed to polyphony. The use of monophony has been neglected, and people now prefer singing sacred songs as a group in the form of polyphony this is because during the middle age music was composed just to enjoy it for its sake which was central as compared to when people are singing in a group. Polyphonic compositions of the sacred songs are nowadays sung at important festivals and not only at the church. For example during the ninth century music theorist who was in the church started to experiment how to sing two melodic lines at the same time using parallel intervals. It led to the development of the organum music which was a hollow-sounding one. This music later developed slowly. The organum music continued to grow during the twelfth and also the thirteenth century, and it was then referred to as Ars Antiqua music. The two leading composers were Leonin who composed the organa. It was the music which could be sung by two voices, and the other composer was Perotin whose organa consisted of mainly three or even four voices. The music of Perotin is considered to be a good example of the polyphony music.

The growing interest of the composers and performers of the secular songs showed humanistic values during the Renaissance period. During this time the humanistic interest that was developed in a language which created a substantial relationship between words and music as well. The composers showed humanistic values through these songs as they would give a deeper meaning and also show their emotions through the songs. The words used and the music would both form poetic images. Each secular composer used their style and expression. Due to the increased rise of individualism made the writers be on their own. A composer had to seek for support from the audience. The audience, in turn, reflected their humanistic values through craving for the secular music. They termed the best composers as stars in the music industry. The composers showed humanistic values through their secular songs by making them romantic to their audience.

A Madrigal refers to a secular and a multi-voice song which was frequently sung without any accompaniment that was having a lyric that was poetry based. The meaning of the text was usually enhanced by the use of a musical setting since the composers would take poems and make them be in line with the musical setting due to the increased interest in poetry. The text was mostly based on love and would sometimes be composed humorously. The meaning of the song was enhanced by the musical setting because in any given song there was typically four to six voices and all the sounds would play an equal part, and hence no part was important than the other. The composers used word painting while composing the madrigals. It is where the pitches of the song would reflect the meaning of the text in the song. They also used the chromaticism technique whereby they used pitches to create tension when the song is meant to express a form of pain or anger.

The increased rate of passionate and use of vivid expressions of the human emotions led to the development of the Baroque period. It was a period of change that could be referred to as an era that was a romantic emphasis on drama as well as a personal expression to that of a more refined style that was classical that emphasized on order, balance and also repose. During this period the composers realized the importance of music as a source of entertainment and hence ensured that the art they created was of importance to the society. During this period opera was established as a type of musical performance by the composers. The opera used music forms such as the de capo aria. The drama was commonly sung on stage with the accompaniment of instruments. The operas would alternate between the recitative and arias whereby they helped in the composers or characters to show their feelings at a certain point. In the opera dances as well as choruses were included in the drama. It helped to enhance the recitative narrative.

The concerto took various forms during the Baroque period. It was a composition that was mainly meant to unite a diverse ensemble that consisted of voices and instruments or even both of them. Works that were sacred and used voices and instruments were often referred to as concertos. Ritornello in music was used to refer to the final lines that were found in a madrigal in the fourteenth century. The ritornello was of great importance during the development of the Italian instruments that were referred to as the concerto during the period of Baroque. Many violin concertos were written whereby a recurring ritornello was used for the fast movement between two solo passages were extended and consisted of new material. The form was later standardized by the composer Antonio Vivaldi who instead wrote hundreds of concertos through the use of a Torellis scheme that was modified. It led to the establishment of other conventions from other composers.


Hammond, S. L. (2012). The Madrigal: A Research and Information Guide. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Kreitner, K. (2011). Renaissance music. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Lloyd, R., Lloyd, N., In Leish, K. W., In Folds, C. W., Donald, S. L., In Helen, C. D., American Heritage Publishing Company. (1969). The American heritage songbook. New York: American Heritage Pub. Co.

Monti, J. (2012). A sense of the sacred: Roman Catholic worship in the middle ages. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Povilioniene, R. (2017). Musical Mathematica: Traditions and innovations in contemporary music.

Randel, D. M. (2012). The Harvard dictionary of music. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Cite this page

Eras of Western Music - Paper Sample. (2021, Jun 23). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism