How does medieval era music compare with modern music?
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These terms – medieval music and modern music – need a little clarification and subdivision. Secular medieval music forms (ballads, love songs, etc.) are best compared to modern music (Top 40? UTunes?) in that they have similar traits – wide popular appeal, current instrumentation, thematic subjects of personal emotions (love, loneliness, forlornness, etc.). Religious medieval music (western) featured choral work and subjects related to the liturgy, mass, etc., and were composed to be performed in churches and cathedrals. Modern “classical” western orchestral music, far from popular appeal, is now pretty much confined to elitist, sophisticate audiences in concert halls. (The term “modern” here includes 19th century composers such as Ravel, Faure, Mendelsohn, etc., but really should be confined to Arvo Part, Philip Glass, and the like). The more glaring difference between the two periods might be the technology, not only electification of instruments and airwave for distribution, but most importantly, the ability to record and replay music, while in Medieval times the music was written down in notes and replayed at each performance. The forces, too, of the Free Enterprise System vs. medieval systems of patronage have changed the forms of music’s distribution (large concerts vs. private reception halls.)
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