Vocal Development Throughout the Renaissance, Classical, and Baroque Periods

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The development of vocal music is a wide spread journey, filled with many changes and branching off of core ideals. In order to understand the origins of the music we listen to today, we must understand the past, and how music has developed. Three periods vital to the development of vocal music includes the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Baroque era. The music of the Middle ages was very religious. According to Music: The Art of Listening, the only type of music that was even recognized that the time was sacred church music . Vocal music in the Medieval period was characterized mainly by chanting religious texts to simple melodies. For example, the Gregorian chant was usually sung a capella in unison, with a monophonic melody. During this age, women were not allowed to sing publicly. It was felt that the place of women should be in the home, and women could informally sing there, but not in the church. Women still, however, still engaged in chants, as seen with famous female composer Hildegard of Bingen. Influenced by the Gregorian chant, she moved in a different direction, still chanting, but expanding the vocal range of the chant. This form of expressive chant allowed her compositions to be more powerful, and, in a sense, supernatural and ethereal. Another genre of medieval music was the English round. During the Middle Ages, polyphony, a composition that involves more than one line simultaneously became more prevalent in the works of many. One of the most common characteristics of an English round is cannon. A cannon consists of voices singing the same melody, but entering at different times, such as is seen in “Row Your Boat”. Medieval Mass music was another significant genre that came out of the Middle Ages. Many composers of this time period began to set religious texts to music. Guillame de Machaut was the first composer to create a composition for all five parts of the Ordinary of the Mass. This Ordinary of the Mass is the part of the Mass that...
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