Old School Cool

January 10, 2016 at 10:00 am

The books and movies that are set in the medieval era usually portray a positive and a negative side to life in olden times. On one hand, famine, hunger, disease, plague, superstition, wars, cruelty – a harsh life. On the other hand, romance, heroics, bravery, passion, beauty – an over-romanticized vision of a charmingly simple life, without the madness of the modern age.

I am no historical scholar, so I won’t go into how things “really were” because I don’t know. What I do know is that the music of the high gothic era is as beautiful and complex as its architecture and art. If you compare the thick, heavy romanesque buildings of the earlier age to the light, ornate buildings of the gothic era, you can understand the profound difference between the monophonic (one note at a time) plainsong of the early medieval period and polyphonic (many independent notes simultaneously) gothic music.
Notre Dame de Paris, East View,

Pérotin le Grand was one of the few named medieval composers from whom we have music. He is the most famous composer of the Notre Dame School of polyphony, and of the Ars Antiqua (“Old Art”) style. This piece, “Sederunt Principes” sounds a bit strange to our modern ears (each word takes about a minute to sing), but you can’t deny that it’s pretty cool.

I especially like some of the comments on this video: “eeeee e ee ee eee  e ee  ee  ee e e e e  eeee  e e e   ee” Yeah that just about sums it up.