Gothic Music Essay

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Gothic Music Background During the Gothic period, the Roman Catholic Church was powerful and music was often only heard in religious services. Monks and monasteries held the monopoly on learning, this was an effective form of communication for monks, even though most nobility was illiterate. The cathedrals were the centres for music. The important occupation in monasteries was singing, as this, again, was the most effective form of communication. Boys received music education in schools associated with churches. However, women did not and were not allowed to sing in church. (Lee, J (2010). St Patrick’s College. PowerPoint: ‘Year 10 RE Unit on Christian Music’.) Characteristics There were many special characteristics of Gothic music. Firstly, vocal music was organized according to text. Gothic music also featured considerable use of contrary motion to elaborate melismaticism. There were also numerous vocal characteristics present in instrumental music. Rhythmic modes were invented to solve rhythm problems. This was a massive advancement for world music as different rhythm measures were developed and proper timings. Prior to this innovation, there were only two rhythms, long and short. The Gothic era produced 4/4 timing and other methods for measuring rhythm. The texture of music was vastly polyphonic, which 3 or 4 parts of one instrument used to create some excellent tones. Harmonies were also a result of polyphonic texture. Polyphonic texture is where two or more voices or instruments are mixed together and play separate melodies, but in the same key. The Gothic era used techniques which are called ‘dual or triple harmonies’. This technique is used widely today in all music, such as classical music to heavy metal. Another awesome innovation in the Gothic period is using instruments to double vocal parts or essentially use polyphonic texture. Mensural
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