21M.220 Early Music

Spring 2007

Painting of a man playing a wind instrument and a woman playing a drum.
An illustration from a manuscript of the Cantigas de Santa Maria ("Songs to the Virgin Mary"), one of the largest collections of monophonic (solo) songs from the middle ages. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Course Description

This class covers the history of Western music from antiquity until approximately 1680, about 2000 years worth of music. Rather than cover each topic at the same level of depth, we will focus on four topics in particular and glue them together with a broad overview of other topics. The four topics chosen for this term are (1) chant structure, performance, and development; (2) 14th century music of Italy and France; (3) Elizabethan London; and (4) Venice in the Baroque era.

The class will also introduce many of the tools we use in studying music history such as manuscript study, original notation work (the musical equivalent of foreign language study), and historical performance practice.

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Prof. Michael Scott Cuthbert

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session