Medieval Europe 814-1450: Music - Research Article from Arts and Humanities Through the Eras

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The Mechanics of Music: Scales and Treatises

The Medieval Scales.

The medieval musical scales were called modes, which were described by their ranges, the location of the half-steps, the important pitches used at the beginning and end of the composition, and the "reciting tone"—the pitch used for recitation in psalms (see Plainchant, Psalms). During the Middle Ages there were eight modes, grouped into four pairs (this was enlarged to six pairs in the sixteenth century, and reduced to two—the major and minor scales presently in use—in the eighteenth century). Each mode was known by its number and by a Greek name. The names chosen were those of ancient Greek tribes that were believed to have exemplified the emotional character of that mode. Although the system of modes was originally invented to describe and control monophonic music, it...

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This section contains 1,306 words
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Buy the Medieval Europe 814-1450: Music Encyclopedia Article
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Arts and Humanities Through the Eras
Medieval Europe 814-1450: Music from Arts and Humanities Through the Eras. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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