Middle Ages


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Week 2: What to do
Week 2 is devoted to the music of the Middle Ages.
Here is what we need to do:
I) Read the chapter on the Middle Ages. As you read, please make note of the approximate beginning and ending dates for this period and its general historical outline (for example, what was happening in politics and culture at the time?). Also, please make note of the major genres of this period, and what are the features that distinguish one from the other. For example, what are the distinguishing features of plainchant, or organum, or the Ars Nova motet?
II) Listen to the musical examples for the music of the Middle Ages contained in the audio CD’s that come with the textbook.
III) Select at least two of those examples and do this:
A) Post a short essay with our personal reaction to the music that we are listening to this week, and
B) Read the essays posted by other students and respond to those ideas.
You are free to post at any time this week, but do keep in mind that the forum will only be available for one week.
Here are the specifics:
1) About the essay:
1.1) The essay should be at least 300 words in length (but of course could be longer).
1.2) The essay should engage at least two listening examples of your choice from this period. You should listen to all the examples, but I encourage you to focus your writing on those examples that you find most interesting. If you wish to write about more than two examples that’s OK too!
1.3) The content of the essay is your own subjective reaction to the music. However, one issue that we should be aware of is the progression from monophony (a single melody at a time), to simple polyphony (two melodic lines simultaneously, with one of them being more active and prominent while the other is in a supportive role, to complex polyphony (where two or more melodic lines or equivalent complexity comete for our attention). So as you listen to the examples of plainchant, organum, and Ars Nova motet, please keep in mind that evolution. So, there is really no right or wrong here, this is your own subjective reaction to the music. How does it make you feel? How does the experience of listening to this music differ from what you listen to today?
1.4) Your essay should be posted on this forum, on the body of your post (not as an attachment). I suggest the following procedure:
A) As you listen to the music over the next few days, write down any thoughts that come to mind. Towards the end of the week you’ll have a few insights that you can use to begin to develop your essay.
B) I suggest that you write your essay on a word processor such as Microsoft Word, because it will allow you to run a spell check, and because it will allow you count the number of words in your essay.



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