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16:30 - 17:30

Sean Rafferty presents a selection of music and guests from the arts world.

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17:30 Opera on 3

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Music Timeline
Lincoln's medieval cathedral
Though inevitably a great deal has been lost, a large amount of music has come down to us from the beginnings of the written Western tradition up to the start of the Renaissance. Music associated with the church predominates. Though much is anonymous, the works of Hildegard of Bingen , an eleventh century German abbess, have become particularly admired over recent years. Less of the secular music of the age has survived, but from around 1250 there are examples of songs by troubadours and other entertainers whose traditions were primarily oral, not written.

Church music
  • Plainsong (or plainchant) refers to the unison chanting of the Latin liturgy. Both the Western and the Eastern churches were developing plainsong from around the fourth century, and by the eighth the two dominant types were Gregorian chant and Ambrosian chant .
  • Polyphonic music arose within the Western church during the late Middle Ages as choirs made up of clergy responded to the desire for more sophisticated forms of worship. The term 'polyphony' (from the Greek for 'many sounding') refers to the use of a number of simultaneous vocal lines as opposed to the single line (or 'monophony') of plainchant. The fourteenth-century French composer Guillaume de Machaut composed one of the earliest polyphonic settings of the Mass , the 'Messe de Nostre Dame'. Central to the polyphonic music of the period is the motet , which also originated at Notre Dame in Paris. 23 examples by Machaut survive.

Secular music
The most important forms of the late middle ages were all French in origin and derived from the dance. 

  • The virelai was a vocal form with a long repeated refrain
  • The rondeau had its origins in the round dance.
  • The ballade consisted of three stanzas and a concluding refrain.

  • Guide to Classical Music
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