Music of the Middle Ages


Course description

Join our pilgrimage to discover the “strange-beautiful” music of the Middle Ages. Whether worldly or allegorical in nature, this music represents ageless human expressions of longing for an ideal. We venture into the monasteries and cloisters of the Dark Ages, where music emerged as a mysterious link with the absolute. We learn of technical advances made in the Gothic era (rhythm, pitch, harmony, early notation and early organs), which created glorious stereophonic effects in music that infused the massive aesthetic spaces of newly-constructed cathedrals. Come dance to the strange assortment of—now obsolete—instruments that entertain the serfs, or join the bawdy choruses of students in the newly-established university “cities”. Let’s catch news of the Crusades in ballads sung by travelling minstrels, or be charmed by the elegance and innuendo of courtly love songs. As we see, this music reflects the layers of historical, cultural and political growth of western civilization from antiquity. Yet, the strange-beauty of this music persists in its aesthetic appeal, with a central message relevant to our modern age.

No previous musical knowledge required.

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