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The Medieval period includes music from after the fall of Rome to about 1400. Monophonic chant, also called plainsong or Gregorian Chant, was the dominant form until about 1100. Polyphonic (multi-voiced) music developed from monophonic chant throughout the late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, including the more complex voicings of motets. The Renaissance period was from 1400 to 1600. It was characterized by greater use of instrumentation, multiple interweaving melodic lines, and the use of the first bass instruments. Social dancing became more widespread, so musical forms appropriate to accompanying dance began to standardize.
It is in this time that the notation of music on a staff and other elements of musical notation began to take shape.This invention made possible the separation of the composition of a piece of music from its transmission; without written music, transmission was oral, and subject to change every time it was transmitted. With a musical score, a work of music could be performed without the composer's presence.The invention of the movable-type printing press in the 15th century had far-reaching consequences on the preservation and transmission of music.
Typical stringed instruments of the Early Period include the harp, lute, vielle, and psaltery, while wind instruments included the flute family (including recorder), shawm (an early member of the oboe family), trumpet, and the bagpipe. Simple pipe organs existed, but were largely confined to churches, although there were portable varieties. Later in the period, early versions of keyboard instruments like the clavichord and harpsichord began to appear. Stringed instruments such as the viol had emerged by the 16th century, as had a wider variety of brass and reed instruments. Printing enabled the standardization of descriptions and specifications of instruments, as well as instruction in their use.
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