Musc 752 Lecture 16: Instrumental Music in the Middle Ages I. Instrumental music



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Portative organ

i. Air pressure produced by bellows

ii. Depressing key vibrates air, produces sound

iii. Portative = portable

iv. People marched with these

aa. though sound not very loud

bb. Play example

v. Larger types of organs took more than one person to

play

--One to pump bellows, one to play



vi. Cathedral-sized organs took multiple people to operate

bellows - like dozens

b. harp

i. Smaller than modern orchestral harp

ii. Held on lap

iii. Could be strung with metal strings or gut strings

(specifically, catgut)

iv. Example here with metal strings

c. Psaltery

i. String instrument

ii. Held flat across lap

iii. Basically, same as dulcimer, except

aa. Psaltery – pluck strings with quill

bb. Dulcimer – play with mallets

iv. Example of psaltery

d. Hurdy-gurdy

i. String instrument

ii. Strings in case

iii. Bowing action of fiddle replaced by wheel cranked by handle

iv. Play example

IV. More complex instrumental examples

A. Istampitta Ghaetta (p. 551)

1. An estampie from Italy - 14th century

2. Form - A A’ B B’ C C’ D D’

a. Four puncta, each repeated

b. With identical ouvert/clos endings

c. Seventeen measures that precede endings identical as well

d. Other repetitions of material – serves to unify

3. Fairly good number of melodic sequences as well

4. Taken together, probably indicates that piece was created through

improvisation, then written down

5. Other things of note:

a. Irregular phrase lengths

b. Shifts between duple and triple divisions

c. Middle Eastern flavor

d. Perhaps intended not for group dancing, but for one, or pair, of

featured dancers performing for the court

6. Listen

B. Nota (p. 438)


  1. Very complicated dance

  2. Characterized by irregular lengths of sections and repetitions of melodic material

  3. 12 puncta – first five with ouvert/clos endings, some others with repeats

a. Some of the puncta very similar – first 3 identical, except for

first two beats



b. Fourth and fifth quite similar as well

  1. 10th is first 8 bars of 6th

  2. And so on

  3. Variety within regularity

  4. Extends to modal focus – tight



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