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One of, if not the most important era in musical history is the Medieval Era also commonly known as the Middle Ages (450-1450). Why is this one in particular so important, you may be asking? Well, that is because it established a foundation for the music we know and listen to today.

Christianity was spreading rapidly through Western Europe. Proper education was not big or sought out which factors in for most of the population’s inability to read or write. Instead, “monasteries were centers of learning.” (¶2, Line 5). In these monasteries, the monks were able to practice their religion through manuscripts that were made by other Arabic and Greek scholars. Their sacred texts were sung and passed on. Although they tried singing it in a certain way it eventually would change as time went on. To prevent any further change, the monks created a system that “fixed the pitches of a melody” while allowing for the representation of multiple melodies to be playing “simultaneously.” (¶3, Line 9-12). An early example of this could be heard by “Leonin” through a piece called “Viderunt Omnes.”

I was honestly surprised when I heard this for the first time. It doesn’t sound as foreign and weird as I thought it would. If anything, it sounds more calming and comforting than a lot of the music that is produced today. It’s interesting how a big portion of the music made in the twentieth century is what I expected to hear in the Middle Ages, especially through the way the article made the creation of the system sound. Though it was made centuries ago, the art he made still shines brightly to this day.

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This course includes Open Educational Resources (OER), which are entirely cost-free and accessible online. Developed in the Open Knowledge Fellowship at The Graduate Center's Mina Rees Library, this work is made possible by state grant funding through the Office of Library Services.



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