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The Middle Age is a period in human history


Music Appreciation College Course Work Listen to the following three (3) clips of music from the Middle Ages (the third clip is closer to the Renaissance).
Photo Credit Jacklyn Dougherty

The Middle Age is a period in human history spanning from the 5th to 16th centuries, which was a transformative era, especially for Europe and Western Asia (Walker, 2020). The music of the Middle Ages differs from contemporary music in that it was monophonic (one voice), used to be simple and repetitive, and often used for religious purposes. There are some big differences between music in the Middle Ages and contemporary music. One of the most obvious is instrumentation. Instruments like the harpsichord and the organ were very popular during this time period, as seen in the videos, and were used in a lot of different pieces of music. Another difference is that many of the pieces from this era were written for voices instead of instruments. Since there was not a lot of recorded music from this time period, most of what we know about music from this time comes from written sources, such as manuscripts. Notably, closer to the Renaissance, the harmony of the music changed. The third clip presents a more blended and warmer religious music than medieval music.

Music from this period reflects artistic, religious, and social life changes which occurred. For instance, a lot of religious processions were renewed in monasteries that required decorative music (hymns). Being a time of great religious devotion resulting from the influence of the Catholic Church, the music is seen to reflect the Catholic way of life and how they served Masses and prayed. Also, there was an important shift from Latin to vernacular languages for religious purposes. The art during this time was very dark and sinister, reflecting events such as the Black Death hence the harmony of the music. In regard to social life, the music reflects the great isolation and segregation of men and women.


Walker, A. T. (2020). Towards a theory of medieval film music. In Medieval film (pp. 137-157). Manchester University Press.

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