SML2209 - Music in Medieval Europe

2022/3 Module description

StaffProfessor Yolanda Plumley - Lecturer
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

In this module, you will explore the rich heritage of music surviving from medieval Europe, in particular France, England and Italy, and consider the role of music and musicians in society between ca. 900 to 1400. You will engage with different types of primary sources, including images from illuminated books and paintings, poetry, treatises and other written texts, musical works that survive in written form in medieval manuscripts, and with modern sound recordings. You are not expected to have prior musical skills or knowledge: you will explore some selected musical works through guided listening. Study of original foreign language texts will be through English translations.

This module is especially suitable for interdisciplinary pathways.

Module aims

The module aims to introduce you to the multifaceted roles that music and musicians played in different contexts and situations in Medieval Europe. You will explore: how music was experienced at princely courts and in the church and city; how music and musicians were defined and considered at the time; the social origins of different types of musicians; and selected musical genres corresponding to these social categories. You will engage with a range of research materials, including medieval music manuscripts and treatises, medieval poetry and other texts, medieval painting and artefacts, and modern sound recordings. You will develop skills in critical listening of the music from this distant period and learn how studying this aspect of medieval culture can shed light on our understanding of the society it represents. We will also consider modern performances of medieval songs and the challenges facing us today in understanding and performing the music of this distant past.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Gain an understanding of the development of music in the late Middle Ages and the various contexts in which it was produced;
  • 2. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a range of different kinds of primary source materials relating to medieval music and be able to evaluate their historical value critically.
  • 3. Gain some understanding of how to listen to medieval music critically.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate ability to interpret, compare and contextualise historical events and key works
  • 5. Access and use critically appropriate learning resources following guidance from the lecturer and, to a limited extent, discover other useful materials independently

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Demonstrate skills in the selection and organisation of material (through written assignments and presentations).
  • 7. Construct a coherent and cogent argument.
  • 8. Using bibliographical material provided, select, plan, and carry out a programme of study leading to an essay on a given topic, to a specified length and deadline.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Whilst the content may vary from year to year, the standard pathway on this module is as follows:
  • Introduction: Music in Medieval Society and Culture.
  • Different Orders of Musicians and their Training.
  • Music in the Church.
  • Music in the City.
  • Music at Court.
  • Case Studies.
  • Conclusion

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1010 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 66 x 1 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study134Private Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Commentary500 words1-8Written and oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Coursework essay1002500 words1-8Written feedback on standardised feedback form

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Coursework essayCoursework essay1-8Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • M. Everist, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • F.A. Gallo, Music in the Castle: Troubadours, Books, and Orators in Italian Courts of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Centuries. transl. by A. Herklotz (Chicago: University Press, 1995)
  • F.A. Gallo, Music of the Middle Ages II, transl. by K. Eales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)
  • R. H. Hoppin, Medieval Music (New York: Norton, 1978)
  • T. Knighton & D. Fallows, eds., Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Music (New York: Schirmer, 1992)
  • J. McKinnon, Man and Music. Antiquity and the Middle Ages: From Ancient Greece to the 15th century. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990)
  • C. Page, The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France, 1100-1300 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989)
  • N. Pirrotta, Music and Culture in Italy from the Middle Ages to the Baroque (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1984)
  • Y. Plumley, The Art of Grafted Song: Citation and Allusion in the Age of Machaut (Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • K. Polk, German Instrumental Music of the Late Middle Ages: Players, Patrons and Performance Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)
  • R. Sherr, Papal Music and Musicians in Medieval and Renaissance Rome (Oxford: Clarendon, 1998)
  • R. Strohm, The Rise of European Music, 1380-1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)
  • O. Strunk, Source Readings in Music History (New York: Norton, 1998)
  • P. Weiss & R. Taruskin eds., Music in the Western World: A History in Documents (New York: Schirmer, 1984)
  • N. Wilkins, Music in the Age of Chaucer (Totowa, N.J: Rowman and Littlefield, 1979)
  • B. Wilson, Music and Merchants: The Laudesi Companies of Republican Florence (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992)
  • J. Yudkin, Music in Medieval Europe (New York: Prentice Hall, 1989)

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Key words search

Music / Middle Ages / Princely Courts / Medieval Europe / Arts and society

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