Period (900-1300) Ars Antiqua
||Unspecified: heterogeneous ensembles
assumed. Solo polyphony vs. choral chant. Light,
nasal vocal quality and high range conjectured.
||Monophonic/heterophonic. Polyphonic: parallel
perfect intervals; melismatic solo over sustained
tenor; discant style; conductus style; unequally-active
voices over slower Cantus firmus (some voice-exchange)
Two, later three voices usual.
||Modal polyphony. Intervallic concept
of voice relationships. Incidental dissonance
(including 2nds & 7ths). Dominance of perfect
consonances (including 4th) at important beats,
resulting in typical "open" (3rd-less) sound.
Cadences usually 2-1/7-8 (in polyphony) on
various scale degrees. Some musica ficta.
||Original chant rhythm unknown.
Generally sung today in equal note values without
accents, but some performances use accents,
unequal values, even meter. Secular monophony
apparently sung in a rhythmic mode (or metrically).
Rhythmic modes likely for organum. Later, mensural
rhythm (triple meter). Irregular phrases with repeated
short rhythmic patterns.
||Motion basically conjunct
(some 3rds, few larger leaps), based on
hexachords with some mutation. Contour
often archlike, revolving around dominant. Use
of church modes (and major mode). Mainly
syllabic with melismas for expression.
Character ranges from folk-like to highly
strophic) with secular ones
including refrain types and
bar form (AAB). Cantus firmus
forms. Dance music in chain of
Period (1300-1420) Ars Nova
||Instrumental doubling of voice(s), especially in
secular music. Loud outdoor instruments: shawm,
sackbut, rebec, organistrum tabor.
Soft indoor instruments: harp, psaltery, vielle.
||Unequal-voice free counterpoint with overlapping
ranges over slower Cantus firmus; isorhythmic/
isometric texture; ballade style. Use of hocket
and canon. From two to four voices, with three usual.
Modal, intervallic polyphony. Milder incidental
dissonance: escape tones, accented passing tones
weak beat suspensions. 3rds, 6ths, full triads
now common. Cadences: Landini type; double-leading
tone; occasional V-I. Use of partial signature and
||French rhythm varied and complex, due to independence of voices and isorhythm. Motion irregular. Phrasing irregular, articulated by rests & cadences. Introduction of duple meter. Much syncopation and some diminution.
||Mostly conjunct motion in relatively small range, but more
leaps in supporting voices
(lines are unrelated). Melismatic treble (especially in
Italy). Phrases follow length
of poetic line, with some
short phrases and recurring
forms, especially refrain
types with musical rhyme.
Cantus firmus forms.
Dance music in repeated
||Unspecified: usually heterogeneous.
Inception of choral
in sacred music. Instrumental doubling
of voices, soft colors including viol,
include more harmonic
ballade style and fauxbourdon; more or less
equal-voice counterpoint over Cantus firmus
with occasional imitation; isorhythmic/isometric texture. Three or
four voices, but reduced
to two or three in some
||Modal, but much ionian and
aeolian. Intervallic concept
but some chordal sound. Expressive, regulated use of
less dissonance: escape
tones, anticipations, accented
passing-tones, proper suspensions. Full triads except at
important cadences. Cadences: Landini type disguised V-I; double-leading-
tone; occasional IV-I. Musica
ficta (seldom in Ockeghem).
||Less complex and varied:
smoother flowing but with
restless continuity and irregular quality (sacred more
complex than secular).
Phrases articulated by rests
and cadences (unless these
are avoided, as in Ockeghem). Much use of duple
meter. Considerable syncopation. Some accent in pieces
with metrical text. Netherlands drive to the cadence
||Flowing diatonic motion
based on the 3rd, with leaps
then filled in and penultimate
melismas. Chant often paraphrased in the treble. Ockeghem's melodic lines seldom sequence or cadence.
Tenor and contratenor frequently unvocal. Basic range
of part still an octave.
forms but decline of the
formes fixes. Cantus firmus often ornamented in
treble, sometimes in tenor
(often in larger note
values). Isorhythm now
rare. Sectional motet
forms (repetition and contrast).
||Unspecified: homogeneous use of
families of instruments and voices.
A capella ideal.
Choral sacred music, solo secular.
Vast variety of colors, including cornetto, crumhorn,
and some canon (fully
equalized voices) contrasted with homophonic textures (familiar
solo texture; polychoral
and concertato styles.
Four voices (secular);
five, then six or more
(sacred), with some
sections of fewer voices.
||Modal (and some tonal) polyphony. Chordal sound with
some harmonic sequence.
Highly regulated, expressive
dissonance, stressing passing and neighbor-tones, suspensions, and pedal points
Harmonic tone-painting reflected in chromaticism and
usually V-I, with IV-1 at important places. Some double
counterpoint. Clear rules for
applying musica ficta.
||Smooth regular flow
(Palestrina) or restless continuity. French-type chanson
and dance strongly metrical.
Meter generally unstressed.
Phrases complex and interlocking. Use of constant tactus. Ostinato, syncopation.
and dotted rhythms. Concern
for text declamation. Carefully graded levels of
rhythmic activity by section:
with Netherlands drive to the
||Contrapuntal lines either
mainly conjunct and relatively unarticulated, or shaped in
well-defined themes with
memorable intervals and
rhythms. Much tone-painting
by way of ascending and descending lines, chromaticism, and unusual intervals
of larger size. Melody with
accompaniment often given
||Systematic point imitation.
Cantus firmus structures
(often on secular tunes).
Sectional forms clearly
defined, and some use of
tonal unity. Text-dominated
forms used, but not
formes fixes. Instrumental
forms based on repeated
sections, imitation, variation.
|Early Baroque Period (1600-1685)
with preference for mixed
consort; wide variety of instrumental and vocal sonorities, use of violin family and
cornetto, greater dynamic
range. Omnipresent harpsichord (or organ).
in monodic, concertato, and polychoral
styles; melody with
improvised inner voices), chordal, or imitative texture. Growing
preference for trio-sonata texture.
||Harmonic idiom between
modal and tonal (with
many chromatic changes):
striking use of more frequent dissonance (some
unprepared), fast harmonic
rhythm, V-I cadences but
still many step progressions.
||Metrical rhythm with varied
motion, often uneven or discontinuous with marked contrasts of pace and irregular
phrasing, except in dance or
dancelike movements. Formal song usually in triple
||In monody, circumscribed
range and frequent use of stylized speech-rhythms; relatively short phrases, affective and
dramatic quality, improvised
ornamentation required at performer's discretion; bel canto
||Music built in short sections
with much contrast and un-systematic use of imitation at
phrase beginnings; much
use of ground bass, ostinato,
strophic form, variations, and
expanded binary (AAB).
|High Baroque Period (1685-1750)
||Wide variety of instrumental
and vocal sonorities with
parts present throughout;
preference for trio-sonata
texture, then for concerto
sound; 4-part strings and
continuo usual, with frequent
obbligato parts; terraced dynamics with wider contrasts,
equal temperament, greater
virtuosity (clarino trumpeters
and castrato singers).
of melody-with-accompaniment (inner
SATB homophony, or
contrapuntal voices in
imitation as in fugue.
Greatest achievement: perfect balance between the vertical and the horizontal dimensions of
||Functional harmony basec
on central tonic with much
tonal sequence and strong
harmonic flow (circle of
fifths frequent); larger harmonic vocabulary and
more dissonance for expression (but fully regulated). Fast to moderate harmonic rhythm, with relatively few but very strong
V-I cadences (often with
trill on upper neighbor).
||Motion more regular and
continuous, culminating in
constant motor rhythm within
unchanging beat in the energetic, driving concerto style;
asymmetrical phrasing common save in dancelike movements, much syncopation,
wide range of tempi; discontinuous recitative style.
||Development of longer, spun-
out melodic phrases with striking motives, clearly-articulated
themes (with more and wider
leaps), expanded range, more
ornate figuration; diatonic idiom increasingly invaded by
harmonically-inspired chromaticism; words subordinated
to more melismatic style (improvised embellishment required); recitative styles more
varied, from near-patter to
highly disjunct & expressive.
||Development of tonal architecture and emergence of
genres with conventional sequences of movements
(SFSF and FSF) and formal
principles; Baroque binary,
ternary (da capo aria),
fugue, ritornello, variations.
process based on motivic
"play," or "spinning-out."