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Lecture 6

Antiquity and the early middle ages

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind,

flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.



music from its early and sketchy past

B.C.E. 300 - C.E. 1000 Our survey begins with a rough picture of the period beginning in the third century B.C.E. through the dark ages. This lecture brings us to about the millennium, 1000 C.E.


Topics covered:

  • music from the ancient world
  • medieval europe emerges out of the dark ages
  • the civilizing presence of the church
  • the church's increasing power and influence
  • its musical expression in plainchant


familiarization with:

  • plainchant and monophonic texture
  • early church music as the only music that was written down
  • musical style of early church music



  • watch lecture 6 (in multiple parts for quicker download) 
  • review previous chapters, as necessary 
  • read textbook, Chapter 7-8 
  • As you are reading your textbook, go through the Listening Exercises in textbook sequence, listening to the examples provided.
  • regarding developing listening skills: you should be in the habit of developing your listening skills early in the game - the assignments will get more complex through the semester and you may find yourself unable to keep up. As simple as these early assignments may seem to some of you, they will help to keep you on the right track, and help you develop the skills required for a greater appreciation in listening to music, including the music that you listen to for your own enjoyment. Of course, those objectives are in total sync with the success you hope to have in this class. Remember that your ability to recognize the music on your CDs will be tested and will, of course, impact your grade.


    Audio / Video lecture

    • click lecture segments below in sequence
    • presented in several segments to reduce download time
    • total lecture time: approx. one hour 15 minutes (all segments included)
    • can be downloaded for portable media players by right clicking each segment link and choosing save option. (note: older Macs and Mac notebooks with single-button mice: control-click)


    The Middle Ages—A Video Timeline (very short) 
    some important musical dates and events, accompanied by music generally applicable to the time

    To give you a better perspective on the period and its composers, 
    I might suggest that you watch this at least twice— 
    • once before the first lecture covering the period
    • once more after the last lecture covering the period. 



    6.1 Beginnings


    6.2 Early Church Music


    6.3 Plainchant


    6.4 Dies Irae