Medieval vs Renaissance Music
Music is a universal phenomenon with its origins in every culture and civilization. For enthusiasts interested in the history and evolution of music, it is important to understand the different eras of music with a chronological perspective. This article presents information on two such eras, medieval and renaissance music (of western music) and endeavors to analyze their differences.
- Medieval music existed from 500 C AD to 1400 C AD and was mainly plainchant, while renaissance music existed from 1400 C AD to 1600 C AD and was largely buoyant melodies.
- Medieval music did not have a notational system earlier on and was transmitted orally, while renaissance music supported the invention of fugues, denoting a notation system.
- Medieval music was mostly only vocal, while renaissance music was of both instrumental and vocal, with instruments such as flutes, harps, and violins being used.
What is Medieval Music?
The term Medieval Music refers to the written and composed music during the era called the Middle Ages, from 500 C AD to 1400 C AD. Middle Ages began with the decay and fall of the Roman Empire. Music in the medieval times was secular and sacred at the same time and it was in chant form, mainly monophonic. Polyphonic chants were later developed. Also, earlier medieval music did not have a particular notational system, so oral tradition transmitted the monophonic tunes. However, later, medieval musicians developed a notation style called neumes. Most importantly, medieval music speaks of a counterpoint which was developed by organum: a plainchant melody with at least one voice to sustain harmony. Also, a large amount of music written in the medieval era is anonymous.
What is Renaissance Music?
The term Renaissance Music refers to the music written and composed in the Renaissance era. Renaissance was a great time period in Europe where art, science, literature, music, intellect, and lifestyle underwent a rebirth. Many awakening occurrences took place including the rediscovery of the hidden ancient Greek and Rome writing and the invention of the press, etc. Renaissance era of music began in 1400 C AD and lasted till 1600 C AD. In the renaissance, music was composed, rather largely improvised, by a number of people. Rhythms of renaissance music were buoyant, and medieval counterpoints were further developed by renaissance composers to create fugues. A new tuning system, Well Tempering, was also developed in this period.
What is the difference between Medieval and Renaissance Music?
• Medieval music existed from 500 C AD to 1400 C AD while renaissance music existed from 1400 C AD to 1600 C AD.
• Medieval music did not have a notational system earlier to write down music. Hence, it was transmitted orally while renaissance music was supporting the invention of fugues. This clearly denotes the notation system.
• Medieval music was mostly plainchant; first monophonic then developed into polyphonic. Renaissance music was largely buoyant melodies.
• Medieval music was mostly only vocal while renaissance music was of both instrumental and vocal; flutes, harps, violins were some of the instruments used.
• Medieval was mainly the beginning of music history while renaissance developed it into several new levels with more composers who existed in the era.
Judging by these differences, it is comprehensive that medieval and renaissance music differ from each other and renaissance was a development of medieval music.