Late Medieval Music

The “Sacred Genres of Late Medieval Music” discusses different genres of sacred music. It focuses on Cathedralism in polyphonic Europe. The use of many voices and rhythmic modes led to the creation of unique music pieces by the Notre Dame School of polyphony. The three significant genres addressed in the lecture are the conductus, the clausula, and the motet.[1] Medieval music comprised liturgical musical mainly sang in church as well as secular music. Early medieval music was different from later versions. While the initial compositions were monophonic, innovations of polyphonic genres gradually took over. The material presents a history of music of some of the styles that embraced many voices.

The lecture begins with a discussion of the conductus. The music was made of three voices. As a metrical Latin song, it was commonly sung during ceremonies. It was a part of occasions such as processions. The conductus, comprising of a single metrical Latin text, served both religious and non-religious purposes. The genre’s name, borrowed from the Latin language, means to lead[2] It creates the impression that the conductus was very relevant in events that had parades. Such music used to escort processions was rhythmic with features such as harmonically independent voices. There is a strong association between this genre and the liturgy. Composers did not use material that was already in existence to create and advance the style.

The second genre, the clausula introduces the different terms that defined it during late medieval. Some of the words used include discant clausula and substitute clausula. The primary difference between the two types was that the term discant came from the style of organum, while substitute highlighted the function it served.[3] The lecture identifies a variation in composition that brings about the difference in the two types. It occurs when composers replace existing lines of chants and songs with new ones. They added more modern lines with regular features unto the chants.  The clausula and substitute did not last for an extended period. Over time, the motet became the more prominent version.

The material explores the third significant genre of late medieval music. Similar to other classes, the motet evolved gradually over a long period. The term, borrowed from French, means word. The motet style of composition underwent several changes. It is one of the unique forms of choral voice music. The origin and evolution of the motet are attributable to the discant clausula.[4] However, there was a slight variation from it. Unlike the discant clausula, the motet had a newly texted upper voice. An example of a composition that had this feature is the clausula-motet. Its primary characteristic was any syllable performed by the tenor voice singing the chant that came after an upper line. Thus, it exhibits the relationship between earlier forms and the ever-evolving motet.

The 13th-century motet came from three primary sources. The lecture identifies the different origins and the era they influenced. For instance, Montpellier Codex played a significant role in the creation of mid-13th-century motets. It generated 345 motets.[5] The Las Huelgas Codex led to the development of mid-late 13th-century motets. A majority of the creations from this source belong to the 13th century. Lastly, the Bamburg Codex helped in the composition of 108 motets during the later 13th century. The differences in the motets from other genres were the upper new line and the three voiced aspects of the structure. Besides, the material also notes that as time goes by, the motet continues to evolve.




“Sacred Genres of Late Medieval Music.” Cathedralism in Europe. Lecture Notes.

[1] “Sacred Genres of Late Medieval Music.” Cathedralism in Europe, 2

[2]. Ibid.

[3] “Sacred Genres of Late Medieval Music,” 3

[4] Ibid., 4

[5] Ibid.

Do you need high quality Custom Essay Writing Services?

Custom Essay writing Service