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Classical1: Medieval Period
Encompasses European music written during the Middle Ages, from appriximately 500 A.D. to 1400 A.D.
Styles and trends
The only medieval music which can be studied is that which was written down, and survived. Since creating musical manuscripts was very expensive, due to the expense of parchment, and the huge amount of time necessary for a scribe to copy it all down, only wealthy institutions were able to create manuscripts which have survived to the present time. These institutions generally included the church and church institutions, such as monasteries; some secular music, as well as sacred music, was also preserved by these institutions. These surviving manuscripts do not reflect much of the popular music of the time. At the start of the era, the notated music is presumed to be monophonic and homorhythmic with what appears to be a unison sung text and no notated instrumental support. Earlier medieval notation had no way to specify rhythm, although neumatic notations gave clear phrasing ideas, and somewhat later notations indicated rhythmic modes.
The simplicity of chant, with unison voice and natural declamation, is most common. The notation of polyphony develops, and the assumption is that formalized polyphonic practices first arose in this period. Harmony, in consonant intervals of perfect fifths, unisons, octaves, (and later, perfect fourths) begins to be notated. Rhythmic notation allows for complex interactions between multiple vocal lines in a repeatable fashion. The use of multiple texts and the notation of instrumental accompaniment developed by the end of the era.
Instruments used to perform medieval music still exist, though in different forms. The flute was once made of wood rather than silver or other metal, and could be made as a side-blown or end-blown instrument. The recorder, on the other hand, has more or less retained its past form. The gemshorn is similar to the recorder in having finger holes on its front, though it is really a member of the ocarina family. One of the flute's predecessors, the pan flute, was popular in medieval times, and is possibly of Hellenic origin. This instrument's pipes were made of wood, and were graduated in length to produce different pitches.
Medieval music uses many plucked string instruments, such as lute, mandora, gittern and psaltery. The dulcimers, similar in structure to the psaltery and zither, were originally plucked, but became struck in the 14th century, after the arrival of the new technology that made metal strings possible. The hurdy-gurdy was (and still is) a mechanical violin using a rosined wooden wheel attached to a crank to "bow" its strings. Instruments without sound boxes such as the Jew's harp were also popular in the time. Early versions of the organ, fiddle (or vielle), and trombone (called the sackbut) existed as well.