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Thread: Medieval like music!

  1. #1
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    Medieval like music!

    Hey guys, I was wondering what gives a song that "Medieval" sound, My Grandma is a professional harpsichord player and I love to hear her play these songs that have that Medieval sound to them, I want to attempt to come up with something for guitar, Where should I start? What's the theory behind that kind of music?

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    LOL - I love these big questions...

    You could start here...
    http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/beginlst/medieval.htm

    Or here (note the various other links within this page):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_music

    ...or you could just google tab for "greensleeves"...

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    Hahah ya I ask alot of these lol But anyway I'll take a look!

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeman9412@gma View Post
    Hey guys, I was wondering what gives a song that "Medieval" sound, My Grandma is a professional harpsichord player and I love to hear her play these songs that have that Medieval sound to them, I want to attempt to come up with something for guitar, Where should I start? What's the theory behind that kind of music?
    I would not put the harpsichord in Medieval times. I think of the harpsichord as being a 16th - 18th century instrument. Could be a little off on the dates, but not 11th century....... thus same progressions as you would find in most classical music.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 11-15-2009 at 12:34 AM.

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    Oh, it just somewhat reminded me of it, but anyway, What's the theory?

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Theory of what, though? As Malcolm says, the harpsichord is not a medieval instrument. Although it was (apparently) invented in the late middle ages, it was most popular during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, before the invention of the piano.
    The medieval period was way before that.

    It's a bit like saying "I like the sound of rock guitar - so what's the theory of that classical music?"

    If you like harpsichord music, then it's Renaissance or Baroque music you should be asking about, not medieval.
    And the theory of that is huge! It's not something we can explain in a few forum posts.

    Check these out for some background:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpsichord
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_music
    http://library.thinkquest.org/15413/...y-ren-inst.htm
    http://www.baroquemusic.org/
    http://trumpet.sdsu.edu/M151/Baroque_Music1.html
    (A lot of baroque music - eg Bach - has been transcribed for classical guitar - an instrument not invented till many years later - which may give you the sound you after.)

    If you want a short cut, the melodic minor scale (in it's classical "ascending only" form, natural minor used when descending) might be a way of producing something like that sound. Eg, it's one reason the Beatles "Yesterday" has a "baroque" sound, because it uses melodic minor.

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    Medieval music will generally be modal, discluding ionian, aeolian, and locrian. And including the plagal modes, ie. Hypodorian, Hypophrygian, Hypolydian and Hypomixolydian. Early polyphony was mostly parallel motion in 8ves 5ths and 4ths. If you're looking for late medieval music, like Perotin etc., it's generally based on a cantus firmus (a well known melody) with 1-3 other parts adding different types of polyphony inbetween the notes of that melody.

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    Greensleeves was more Renaissance era. Medieval music is pretty primitive to our ears, are you sure you don't mean renaissance music?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeman9412@gma View Post
    Hey guys, I was wondering what gives a song that "Medieval" sound, My Grandma is a professional harpsichord player and I love to hear her play these songs that have that Medieval sound to them, I want to attempt to come up with something for guitar, Where should I start? What's the theory behind that kind of music?
    Don't know if this answers the question, but contributing my two cents...

    I found a great book on Celtic guitar a few years back, which touches on a lot of "medieval" sounding stuff. There's no one rule on what makes it sound that way, but I did notice many of the songs were using the DAGDAD tuning, many songs using the capo.
    http://www.keith-moore.net . All things guitar: Jam tracks, lessons, blog and more!

  10. #10
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I think what the OP is calling "medieval" is actually, renaissance and barroque music. Lots of V I and ii V I stuff. If that's in fact what he meant it is a BIG subject. An 18th century counterpoint book will help with a general idea of barroque music. Other than that as in other styles of music. Listen to as much of it as possible (a music appreciation textbook would come in handy too since they'll give one a list of music of each era) but off the top of my head you could listen to Albeniz, Bach, Luis Milan, William Byrde and other composers of that general era. (sorry I'm not a big music history buff).

    If the OP did actually mean medieval music, that's an area of knowledge that is very obscure to me. Except for liberal use of parallel 5ths, little or no harmony, emphasis on melody and modal scales I know nothing of that music.

    I hope this helps.

    -Jorge
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  11. #11
    Carrots!! All_Ľour_Bass's Avatar
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    Use the usual western modes but harmonize them in parallel fifths/fourths/octaves, and make the thirds/sixths resolve to fifths/fourths/octaves.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chim_Chim
    Be different.

    Do it for the OATMEAL.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by All_Ľour_Bass View Post
    Use the usual western modes but harmonize them in parallel fifths/fourths/octaves, and make the thirds/sixths resolve to fifths/fourths/octaves.
    This is about all I remember from studying medieval music, they considered the third one of the most dissonant intervals and so always resolved it to a fifth or octave.

    Although medieval music was before greensleeves, before elizabethan music, before most music theory we have today. So there were no chords yet, just dissonant and consonant intervals.

    Renaissance music follows a similar trend, in that it's based on overlapping melodic lines more than chords. If you want to get that sound on a guitar, though, it's going to be difficult to play several overlapping melodic lines.

    I suggest you learn your modes- dorian is a good start for a medieval sound, and remember to think in terms of forths and fifths rather than thirds (but dont play over major and minor chords! You either need a bass drone, power chords, inverted power chords, or chords made from stacked 4ths can work). That's if you meant medieval, which was before chords were invented.

    If you meant renaissance than you can use aeolian. The trick that they used to use is to sharpen the notes when you ascend the scale and flatten them when descending (sort of a prototype for the melodic minor of classical times). Ignore the fact that a descending scale clashes with an ascending one, and play the two together anyway- elizabethans especially loved this dissonance, and it has a very "renaissance" sound to it (as long as it resolves somewhere else of course!). In renaissance times they started to use the third as a consonant interval (I think).

    Other than that you have to remember that the music developed from vocal music, so it's generally quite slow compared to today's music.

    For medieval music I suggest you look up "Gregorian Chant", to give you an idea of what that sounds like.
    My guitar tuition website: www.ChainsawGuitarTuition.net

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