Western Music History

Timeline created by leo.sholl
In Music
  • 900

    Musica Enchiriadis

    Musica Euchiriadis describes the first instance of western polyphony. This music included the Vox Principalis (the primary line) and the Vox Organalis (the improvised secondary line). The types of motion used at this time were parallel and oblique.
  • 1280

    Franco of Cologne/Ars cantus mensurabilis

    Franco of Cologne came to teach in Paris in 1280. He wrote the Ars cantus mensurabilis in which he writes out mensural notation. This notation allows composers to write the duration of notes using note heads and lines. He created the semibreve, the breve, the long and the double long. He also wrote down which intervals were considered consonant (perfect, imtermediate, and imperfect) and dissonant (imperfect and perfect).
  • 1323

    Ars Nova Treatise

    This treatise is the first instance of western time signature. It used the combination of Perfect and Imperfect time along with Major and Minor notation. This allowed for the creation of 9/8, 6/8, 3/4, and 2/4. The notation of 2/4 is the source of our modern "Common Time" notation.
  • 1515

    Josquin's Missa Pange lingua

  • 1528

    Martin Luther's Ein feste burg

  • 1538

    Arcadelt Il bianco e dolce cingo

  • 1562

    Palestrina's Pope Marcellus Mass

  • Sonata pian'e forte

    This work, written by Giovanni Gabrieli, was the first work to specify instrumentation and notate dynamics. It was written for a brass ensemble to perform in St. Mark's Cathedral.
  • Monteverdi's L’Orfeo

  • First public concerts in England

  • Purcell's Dido and Aeneas

  • Antonio Vivaldi's L'Estro Armonica

    Translation: Harmonic Inspiration
  • Brandenburg Concertos

    The date given is the year that Bach submitted the concertos to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwadt. He submitted the collection as a job application, and did not get the job.
  • Rameua's Traité de l’harmonie

    Translation: Treatise on Harmony
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 1

  • Handel's Messiah

    The date given is the year this Oratorio was completed. It was premiered in Dublin in the same year.
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    Medieval Period

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    Charlemagne (years as Holy Roman Emperor)

    Charlemagne is significant to our understanding of western music history because when he was the Holy Roman Emperor, he recognized that he needed to control the empire’s religion. This led him to standardize services taking place in the catholic church. This created a need to write down the music being used in the church, and many of those original manuscripts still exist today. During this time, we see the creation of Chant Notation and Neumatic Notation.
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    Guido of Arezzo

    This Italian Theorist wrote Micrologus (Little Teatise) in ca. 1030. In this writing we see the Hexachord system, a six note scale used as the basis for music at this time. We also see the first instance of Solfege (ut re mi fa sol la) which Guido created to teach sight singing. He also created the four line staff.
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    Hildegard of Bingen

    Hildegard of Bingen is interesting because had she not been working for the church and a prominent public figure at the time, it is likely she would have been killed for being a witch. She wrote a lot of music (among other works) and signed her name to it. At the time, signing your name on music was widely considered vain and immoral (especially for someone creating music for the church).
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    Troubadours and Trobairitz (years active)

    The Troubadours (men) and Trobairitz (women) were performing musicians active during the high middle ages. They were considered low class. Their music often has to do with courtly love, or loving from a far without ever “consummating” a relationship. They collected their songs in books, although today we have more of their poems without music than we have complete songs.
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    Notre Dame School Polyphony

    This school took place during the time of the construction of the Notre Dame. It is made up of the musicians who were active in France during this time.
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    Guillaume de Machaut

    Machaut survived the plague by locking himself in his house during the winter and refusing to have any contact with other people. He was a poet and a musician who wrote more secular than sacred music and saved his music.
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    Francesco Landini

    Francesco Landini created the Landini Cadence, a cadence where the outer voices move from a sixth to a fifth to an octave. In music that has Landini cadences, we often see musica ficta which is where the editor has notated accidentals that would have been understood at the time. These accidentals are used to avoid tritones, make the music sound better, or create a Landini Cadence.
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    Gutenberg Printing Press

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    Concerto delle Donne

    This madrigal group was the first professional women's ensemble. They performed in Ferrara, and inspired the composition of many madrigals specifically for them to perform.
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    Baroque Era

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    JS Bach

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    George Fredric Handel