Music in the Medieval Period

This short series of videos explores the development of music during the Medieval period in Europe.

Guillaume de Machaut

Guillaume de Machaut was a French, medieval poet and composer. He wrote in the style of “ars nova” – a new type of music which became popular after the consecration of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France in the 12th century. “Ars nova” music is characterised by the use of adventurous rhythms, compared with the older type of music (like Gregorian chant) which was not rhythmic. Machaut was an expert at composing using musical devices which were new to the Medieval ear – rhythmic devices called the hocket (hiccup) and isorhythm. Hockets were short bursts of tune interspersed with rests, which were passed from one voice to another, creating an effect of an interruption or hiccup. Isorhythms were repeated stretches of rhythmic ideas repeated at different pitches. Playing with rhythm was a new game for Medieval composers, and these ideas were quite new at the time.

This video uses images and audio available under the Creative Commons licence and sourced from Wiki Commons Images and