The Medieval & Renaissance (476-1600)

  • 476

    The Fall of Rome

    The Fall of Rome
    The fall of the Western Roman Empire was the loss of central political control in its Western Empire, which ended in the divide of the Empire
  • Period: 480 to 524

    Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

    Boethuis was a Roman writer and statesman, but he was also an important music theorist during the Early Medieval Period. He is credited with writing "De institutione musica" (The Fundamentals of Music), in the 500s.
  • 900


    Organum is the first known for of polyphony and was first decribed in c.900, but we beleive it to extend back til the 800s. This all started when Plainchant melody added another melody, and it resulted in a musical sung piece of parallel 4ths and 5ths (3rds were dissonant and should not be used.
  • Period: 1071 to 1126

    William IX

    William IX was the Duke of Aquitine and the earliest of the troubadours whose works have survived throughout the years (11 poems nd 1 melody). He was a respected nobleman, but he is remembered for his womanizing.
  • Period: 1098 to 1179

    Hildegard von Bingen

    Hildegard von Bingen was a German composer and the first female composer in Europe during the Medieval Era of Music. Her music shows the earliest signs of polyphony and is one of the most influential composers of her time.
  • Period: 1150 to 1201


    Leonin was the first well known composer of polyphonic organum during his time. The details of Leonin's life are not known, only knowing his only from his collection of two voiced organum settings. In the "Mangus liber Organi" (c.1170), he combined rhythmic modes of triples with the "discantus" styles.
  • Period: 1160 to 1213

    Gace Brule

    Gace Brule was one of the earliest trouberes and was heavily influenced by Gregorian Chant in her melodies. She was a famous poet at her time, Most of her songs can be streamed online. 69 poems and 57 melodies have survived.
  • Period: 1175 to 1225


    Perotin was a French composer who flourished during c.1200 who was associated with the Notre Dame school of polyphony. Born into a noble family, she given to the convent at age 8 for a better shot at surviving given the circumstances of her time. She is believed to have introduced the composition in four parts into Western Music.
  • 1200

    Genres Generally Composed

    Genres generally composed during this time period consists of the following:
    - Sacred Music: music written for purposes of worship
    - Secular Music: music that is not intended for religious use
    - Gregorian chant: monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song
    - German Lied: "songs"
    - Italian frottola: A four voice part harmony with the melody on top
    - French chanson: Lyric-driven French song, polyphonic.
  • Period: 1245 to 1288

    Adam de la Halle

    Adam de la Halle was one of he last trouveres and wrote polyphony during the Medieval Era. He studies in Paris and wrote chansons, musical plays, rondeaux, and 7 motets.
  • 1250

    Anonymous IV

    Anonymous IV
    Anonymous IV was one of the most influential composers of the Medieval Era of music. Nothing is known about his life, not even his name, but he was probably an English Student working at Notre Dame de Paris. He gives us information about Leonin and Perotin, who would have been anonymous otherwise.
  • Period: 1291 to 1361

    Philippe de Vitry

    Philippe de Vitry was the first composer of the Ars Nova or "New art", which dealt with the theoretical aspects of French music in the first half of the 14th century. He was also well known as "the unparalleled poet of France."
  • Period: 1300 to 1377

    Guillaume de Machaut

    Guillaume de Machaut was considered the most famous composers of his time and of the first to use polyphony in mass cycles. He is a part of the musical movement known as the ars nova and was a central figure. Machaut wrote many poems like "Puis quen oubli" (Since I am forgotten).
  • Period: 1325 to 1397

    Francesco Landini

    Francesco Landini was an Italian during the the late Medieval period and was a central figure of the Trecento style. Landini's surviving music is almost entirely in the ballata form he apparently created. "Ecco la primavera", is a two part ballata in which he composed.
  • Period: 1340 to 1386

    Jacopo da Bologna

    Jacopo da Bologna was an Italian composer, theorist, harpist, and a teacher of Landini. He was a part of the period known as the Ars Nova, and was one of the first members of the group.
  • 1346

    The Black Death

    The Black Death
    The Black Death was a bubonic plaque pandemic that occurred throughout the Afro-Eurasia continents from 1346-1353. It is regarded as the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, claiming 75 million - 200 million lives in those years.
  • Period: 1390 to 1453

    John Dunstable

    John Dunstaple was an English composer who influenced the transition between late medieval and Early Renaissance music. He pioneered the use of thirds and sixths in harmonies, otherwise known as the contenance angloise style.
  • Period: 1397 to 1474

    Guillaume Du Fay

    Guillaume Du Fay was a French composer and music theorist of the early Renaissance Era. While he was alive, he was regarded as the leading composer in Europe, with his music widely performed and copied. He is also of the first to employ the more mellifluous harmonies and melodies of the early Renaissance Era.
  • 1400

    The Crumhorn was invented

    The Crumhorn was invented
    The Crumhorn was a double-reed wind instrument that thrived between the 15th century and about 1650. It is made up of a small boxwood pipe of cylindrical bore, curved upward and the lower end and had finger holes like a recorder.
  • Period: 1420 to 1497

    Johannes Ockeghem

    Johannes Ockeghem is regarded as the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School during the last half of the 15th century. He usually used four independent voices of similar character, and by extending his bass range, he had a darker and fuller sound than that of Du Fay
  • Period: 1435 to 1511

    Johannes Tinctores

    Johannes Tinctoris was a Renaissances composer and musical theorist and was employed from the 1470s-1490s at the Aragonese royal court in Naples. He is credited for writing the first dictionary of musical terms, another book on the characteristics or musical modes, and a treatise on proportions. Though most of music did not survive, there is strong evidence suggesting his love for complex, smooth polyphony.
  • 1440

    The Printing Press was Invented

    The Printing Press was Invented
    The printing press was a revolutionary invention in which it allowed people to share large amounts of information quickly though paper. Books could be printed in mass amounts that look exactly the same, so there were no longer need for scribes with possible errors.
  • Period: 1450 to 1517

    Heinrich Isaac

    Heinrich Isaac was a Franco-Flemish composer who influenced German music during his time. He was a composer to the Holy Roman Emperor: Maximilian I, in Vienna. He was also a significant contemporary of Josquin des Prez.
  • Period: 1452 to 1519

    Leonardo Da Vinci

    Although Leonardo Da Vinci was best known for being a painter, engineer or scientist, he was also a musician. We have found many musical sketches in his notebooks, along with musical inventions. Though he did compose, he didn't leave behind any musical scores, and most of his themes were improvise during his actual performances.
  • Period: 1452 to 1518

    Pierre de la Rue

    Pierre de la Rue is a leading composer at the Burgundian court and was very famous in his day. Frequent use of canon and ostinato are used within his compositions, though he preferred low sonorities. He never worked in Italy. (31 Masses, 25 Motets, 7 Mass sections, Requiem, 30 chansons)
  • Period: 1486 to 1542

    Ludwig Senfl

    Ludwig Senfl was a Swiss-German composer and singer during the Renaissance Era. He wrote many mass, Magnificat, German songs, and Lutheran chorale elaborations. Although he was Catholic, he respected Martin Luther.
  • Period: 1490 to 1545

    John Taverner

    John Taverner was an English organist and choirmaster who was influenced by the Lutheran faith. Although he was influenced by Lutheran faith, he wrote for the Catholic Liturgy, and is regarded as an important English composer in the first half of the 16th centruy.
  • Period: 1510 to 1556

    Jacobus Clemens

    Jacobus Clemens was a Dutch composer who worked in Spain for Charles V. He was known as a prolific composer, and composed many things throughout his active life
  • Oct 31, 1517

    Martin Luther posts the 95 These

    Martin Luther posts the 95 These
    Legend has it that the priest and scholar Martin Luther approached the door of the Castle church in Germany, and nails a piece of paper that contains his 95 opinions that would later begin the Protestant Reformation