History of Classical Music

Sacred Music

(Middle Ages 1)
In the Middle Ages, the church was very important in the lives of the people. In turn, the music of the church was very important and from approximately 350 to 1100 CE, Medieval music was created mostly in the monasteries. This means that composers were mostly monks and priests associated with the Catholic Church. These monks and priests believed that their talents were gifts from God and any work they composed was meant to glorify God. It is because of this that most music up to 1100 is provided by anonymous sources, meaning sources without specific names attached to them.

Sacred music was called plainsong, and it consisted of a single unaccompanied melody with words in the Latin language. The melody of plainsong was simple so the words would be easily understood by others. The words were usually part of the Roman Catholic mass.

The majority of the music of the time is now known as Gregorian Chant, named after Pope Gregory I (590-604), who organized the plainsong chants into a specific order and had them published and communicated to churches throughout Europe and the Roman Empire.

Overview of Middle Ages Next (Secular Music)

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Sound Examples

Puer natus est nobis
Veni creator spiritus
MIDI     Benedicamus Domino


Benedicamus Domino, MIDI sequence by Curtis Clark
   from Classical MIDI Connection
Coro de Monjes del Monasterio Benedictino de Santo Domingo de Silos, Gregorian Chants; Canto Gregoriano; EMI Classics;
    ©1994 EMI Records Ltd. (CMB 565217)

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