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Music In The Middle Ages Essay

1621 words - 7 pages

Taking a look back into our history, it is very hard to graze over the fact that music has reigned as one of the most influential components of artistic expression in our time. It has been a part of numerous peoples' lives across the globe since the beginning of time. Music has been able to not only define the people that craft it, but encompass and define a whole time period and culture in its own, leaving a very bold mark upon history. Two pieces of music that have played integral roles during their time are “In Paradisum” (by an anonymous individual) during the middle ages (600-1450), and “Same Love,” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert during the 21st century (2001-2100, ...view middle of the document...

The human voice stands as one of the most universal and beautiful sources of music. It's versatility is not displayed at its full potential in this particular piece, yet the smoothness of voice, and swift “jumps” in pitch are definitely exhibited. The texture in this plainchant is strictly monophonic. It describes the beauty and simplicity that is retained within the church. Although this piece is surely monophonic, the echoes of voice produced by the building in which the chant is sung tends to almost mimic the complexity of a harmonious piece.
As far as the rhythm, although evident, it is not extremely definite; it has free rhythm. Plainchant was mainly guided by the syllables within the sacred text being sung, so rhythm in this piece is quite vague. The rhythm seems to be fairy slow in oscillating between a constant flow of sounds produced with voice (in various pitches), until it comes to a gradual halt upon a phrase. The durations of these lengths of sound, followed by silence (phrases), ranged from about 8 seconds to roughly 15 seconds. As far as the tempo, it is one aspect of this piece which is also relatively slow. One can think of the tempo as the speedometer of music. Once again, this tempo reflects the setting and event in which the piece is played – essentially a church funeral. It is relatively slow; roughly a pace called adagio. Then, there is harmony. Harmony is the vertical aspect of music, characterized by a combination of simultaneous notes played together to produce a very pleasant sound. Before the realization that the drone (an underlying note that is held constant throughout a musical piece) could move (as far as pitch variation) independently of a main tune or melody, there was little usage of it to produce harmonious music. In this specific piece, there are no harmonious elements incorporated.
Lastly for this piece, there is musical form. The form in this piece consists of pairing different aspects, and contrasting others, in order to effectively convey a certain feeling. Although there is no definite rhythm or melody, due to its constrained pairing with sacred text to be sung, there is still strong feeling within this piece; an emotional quality. The short, transitionary phrases in the song make way for a nearly constant flow of soothing monophonic tones. In addition to the phrases, the tempo, dynamics, texture, and tone color all intertwine flawlessly to encompass a feeling of simplicity and peace, and connection to the church. These factors complement one another in order to create this effect. All of these factors contribute to the form of the piece.
As we now depart from the middle ages, and fast forward to the 21st century, we come to appreciate a different, more modern idea of music. Here, we can proceed to compare and contrast the elements of “In Paradisum,” to “Same Love,” by Macklemore. Upon a first sampling of the songs, the immediate contrast that I made between the two was the fact that “Same Love” was...

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