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The music in the making produced by Milliken university under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Music presents Professor Wesley Snyder and the Millikan choir and recorded consideration of the early development of choral music from the 9th through the 16th centuries by way of introduction. Professor Snyder calls attention to the fact that the music of our present day has been a long time in the making. Many centuries in fact and every new idea every innovation from the earliest time to the present has played some part in making music what it is today. The growth and expansion of music through the earliest period is clearest in choral polyphony. The earliest examples of this type of music come from the ninth century when the
practice of having two or more vocal lines simultaneously was a new and exciting idea. The Milliken acapella choir will sing several examples of this early choral polyphony and you'll hear the men of the choir in fragments of choral music from ninth eleventh 13th and 15th centuries. The entire choir then with Professor Snider conducting will sing musical illustrations from the 16th century. Here to take over at this point is Professor Snyder. Isn't that a rather unusual or strange sounding piece of music. What do you suppose it is. Is it just a piece of music that's been sung wrong by two groups of singers. Well no it's actually supposed to sound that way.
At the time of its composition it was the newest thing in music it represented the latest idea. It was very satisfying to the ears of 19th century heroes. Now that is actually the first example. Of. Vocal polyphony that simply means two tunes sung at the same time. And that is the basis of our modern music now only to be accepted. We take it for granted that that's the way music is. But in in the early days before the 9th century composers didn't know that they could sing to melodies together so they were content to have their singers sing along the same melody at the same pitch and were perfectly content to have that as the end and all of music. But along about the ninth century there began an idea. Which said that.
Perhaps we can put the same tune at different pitch levels and that's what they did. Now they took a melody which sounded like this. And saying Oh had another group saying the same melody at a lower pitch like this. Then they put them both together and sang it like this. The only and the only harmonic interval is that of the Fifth. And the fifth. The early minds in music considered consonant as it is today of course but they considered only consonants other than the
octave now. Within a few hundred years after the music had been sung in this manner. There crept in another new idea that our country emotion the country emotion. Is what we have today. We accepted. But it was a new idea to minds in the tenth or eleventh century. Now they began singing perhaps at a fourth. A melody. The same in both voices but at the end. They. Came together in contrary motion to end on in unison in this fashion. It was to. That seems a little bit better at the end than this first example. But still is not satisfying to our ears. All of this music you
understand. Was without. Regular metrical rhythm. The next idea which came in about eleven fifty or twelve hundred was the idea of putting down on paper. Pitch and rhythm in music and this weakening we can experience through. An old composition called Mirror leg. Uh uh uh you see that with. Its triple rhythm of course. That's the only thing they accepted in this period of from less than 50 to thirteen hundred. The only rhythms seem to have been to then. Triple rhythm. But of course some of the new minds music were dissatisfied with triple
rhythm only and the idea of having triple rhythm and rhythm. They also added to the voices and we have now three voices. This is in the period of the 14th century in the fourteenth century they have. Triple rhythm. Three or four voices and country motion. Just an example. Of 14th century music. The. You know this example of music sounds a little weird yet to modern ears is quite satisfying too late 14th century and early 15th century listeners the
voices in this composition were all at the same pitch level. There's no extremely high voice no extremely low voice but in the middle of the sixteenth century and during the 15th century there was being worked out the use of high voices and low voices in the same composition. Let's pause and listen for a moment to the Millikan acapella choir as it sings composition by just kind a prey to pulp. The.
The. Truth. I think you would agree that that music is beginning to sound modern to our ears. I will go on into the 16th century and take a an example of music by Palestrina Palestrina was perhaps the greatest composer of the 16th century. He was strictly a church musician. Let's listen to his panis on Jellicoe. As somebody that like an acapella choir. Uh.
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Music in the making
Early development of choral music
Producing Organization
Millikin University
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Professor Wesley Snyder surveys the early history of choral music.
Other Description
Instructional comments and musical illustrations using faculty and students from the Millikin University School of Music. The first thirteen programs in the series focus upon historical aspects of music. The second half of the series explores music's technical side.
Broadcast Date
Music theory--History.
Media type
Performer: Millikin Choir
Producing Organization: Millikin University
Speaker: Snyder, Wesley
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-8-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:24
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Chicago: “Music in the making; Early development of choral music,” 1962-01-23, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 12, 2022,
MLA: “Music in the making; Early development of choral music.” 1962-01-23. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <>.
APA: Music in the making; Early development of choral music. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from