Beneventan music manuscript example

Medieval and Renaissance (476-1600)

  • 476


    Chant was the biggest form of music in the Middle Ages. They were always sung in churches.
  • 476

    Church Modes

    We did not have scales at this time. Everything was sung according to a certain mode or sometimes a mix of modes.
  • 476

    The Mass

    The Mass was used for the main service of church. There are two parts: the ordinary (set text) and the proper (changing text).
  • Period: 476 to 1435

    Medieval Era

    With the fall of Rome came the start of the era. The music in this era "came from God."
  • 800


    Early polyphony looks a lot like homophony to us now. The first known form of polyphony is organum: everyone sang the chant while one person sings something else on top of the chant. This also became some of the first forms of music to be notated.
  • Period: 991 to 1033

    Guido d'Arezzo

    He is credited with inventing the staff. This staff has 4 lines. There will always be a red line representing F and a yellow line representing C, however they can move positions.
  • Period: 1098 to 1179

    Hildegard von Bingen

    She was there equivalent of a psychic. She created the liturgical dramas genre and wrote religious poetry. She was also the founder and abbess of the convent in Rupertsberg, Germany. She also created the genre of Miracle Plays.
  • 1140

    Liturgical Dramas

    Hildegard von Bingen created this genre when she began composing the poetry and music as well as writing down her visions.
  • Period: 1150 to 1201


    He was the first composer of polyphonic music whose name we know. He is credited with compiling the Magnus liber organi.
  • Period: 1155 to 1207

    Raimbaut de Vaqueiras

    He's from southern France but served in northwestern Italy. He wrote at least 35 poems but only 7 survive with music. He was killed in battle serving his patron.
  • 1170

    Magnus liber organi

    This basically translates to the Big Book of Organum. It was compiled by Leonin and had all of the notated organum.
  • 1200


    It is believed that he may have studied with Leonin. He is also credited with creating the Organum Triplum: a three-part organum
  • 1200

    Medieval Motet

    Composers began writing new texts and music resulting in the motet. Now there was more text than chant. Used 6 rhythmic modes: the first idea of some rhythmic sense. Texts would be in French, Latin, or sometimes both. Troping became popular as well.
  • Period: 1291 to 1361

    Philippe de Vitry

    He wrote the Ars nova notandi and was the first composer of the Ars Nova genre. He was also a priest.
  • Period: 1300 to 1350

    Ars nova

    New art. Only a thing in France. Many innovations in rhythm especially.
  • Period: 1300 to 1377

    Guillaume de Machaut

    He is the most famous composer and poet of the time. He wrote more than 20 extant motets, several extant chansons, and one of the first polyphonic mass cycles. Most of his stuff was very sad.
  • 1322

    Ars nova notandi

    Translates to The New Art of Notes. It was written by Philip de Vitry to explain to new composers how to write Ars nova. It shows us what it looked like in the first half of the 14th century.
  • Period: 1325 to 1397

    Francesco Landini

    He was famous not only because he was a great composer, but he was also blind. Italian.
  • 1340

    The Bubonic Plague

    More commonly known as "The Black Death," the plague killed about 1/3 of the European population. The church was also very corrupt.
  • Period: 1390 to 1453

    John Dunstable

    He was a very influential transitional figure from the late Medieval into the early Renaissance. He had a very "English quality" in his music. He used more 3rds and 6ths in his harmonies; we are getting closer to modern triadic music. He was so popular people would put his name on their works so it would become popular.
  • Period: 1397 to 1474

    Guillaume Dufay

    The first Renaissance composer
  • Period: 1430 to


    More people stopped believing in the church and started turning to science.
  • Period: 1435 to 1511

    Johannes Tinctoris

    He was a composer and music theorist. He wrote about contemporary music. He wrote the first dictionary of musical terms.
  • Period: 1450 to 1521

    Josquin des Prez

    Most revered Renaissance composer. Others would try to pass off their music as his. He wrote over 100 motets, 17 masses, many French chansons, and Italian secular songs. He's known for his chansons.
  • Period: 1450 to 1517

    Heinrich Isaac

    Prolific German composer
  • Period: 1452 to 1519

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Not only was he an artist, he was also a composer. It was recently found that if you overlay a staff onto The Last Supper, the bread creates a melody.
  • 1475

    Diffinitorum musices

    This was the first dictionary of musical terms ever written. It was written by Johannes Tinctoris.
  • Period: 1505 to

    Thomas Tallis

    He went the extreme with voice motets. He wrote a 40-voice motet (Spem in alium) and later even wrote an 80-voice.
  • Period: 1507 to 1568

    Jacques Arcadelt

    He is one of the earliest Italian madrigal composers. He worked in both Italian and French courts. He composed over 250 madrigals, 125 French chansons, and sacred music.
  • Period: 1521 to

    Philipp de Monte

    Most prolific composer of the Renaissance.
  • Period: 1525 to


    He was the most famous composer of the Renaissance.
  • Period: 1525 to

    Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

    The church wanted everything to be homorhythmic, but he kept using polyphony. Awarded the most posthumous fame.
  • 1530

    Italian Madrigal

    Originated in Florence as a form of aristocratic entertainment. There is only one voice on each part; sometimes instruments would play a voice part. Aristocratic poetry.
  • Period: 1543 to

    William Byrd

    Important Catholic English composer working in Protestant England. He was harassed because of his faith but his talent provided protection from serious persecution. He wrote several anthems and important keyboard music.
  • Period: 1557 to

    Giovanni Gabrieli

    He was the leading composer of instrumental ensemble music and polychoral works of the late Renaissance. He moved to Venice in 1585 to take the position of organist at St. Mark's Cathedral. He was one of the first to indicate what instruments he wanted to play a certain line; he would also sometimes indicate dynamics. He composed over 100 motets.
  • Period: 1564 to


    He never composed any music himself, but he often worked very closely with composers to create music for his plays.
  • 1567

    Pope Marcellus Mass

    Written by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. It met the religious goals called for in the reform. It was supposedly written to satisfy the Council of Trent. It was written for 6 a capella voices in polyphonic and homorhythmic.
  • Period: 1567 to

    Claudio Monteverdi

    Transitioned music from the Renaissance to Baroque style. He wrote 9 books of madrigals and composed several operas during the Baroque era.
  • Period: 1570 to

    John Farmer

    He was an English composer and organist who lived in London and Dublin. He is known for his clever word painting.
  • Canzona septimi toni

    Written by Giovanni Gabrieli. It is from a larger collection called Sacred Symphonies. Two choirs of instruments and split choirs.
  • Fair Phyllis

    Written by John Farmer. Written for four solo voices. Lots of word painting.