A Medieval castle! Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. The Knights Hospitaller had control of it until 1271 when it fell. Can you imagine soldiers storming it? What a challenging target!
Chanting continues to characterize vocal music. Until about the time of the Crusades, music had been primarily in unison, or monophonic, literally “one sound.” As people from northern Europe traveled to the Holy Land, and other parts of the world, they came in contact with other styles of music, notably Arab influences.
A famous character of the Crusades, known not only as a warrior/king, but also a composer is Richard the I, Richard the Lionhearted. Here is a piece which he composed for the lyre while in captivity.
You can start to hear the changes here in this piece by Hildegard van Bingham, Caritas abundat in omnia . The video footage allows you to view the original manuscript, as well as to view the kind of architectural space in which the music was performed. The true impact of chant can not be separated from the original space in which it was composed.
Listen for how the music rises and falls in a much wider range of tones. Note the second “voice” which creates harmony. Again, up to this time the chants had been monophonic, “one voice,” and only with male singers.
Durham Cathedral, Durham, England
Durham Cathedral is a breath-taking example of Norman architecture. Truly the music of this era and the architecture go hand in glove. Visit their webpage for further photos, information, and inspiration (the cathedral being recreated in Legos?)
You can view the original castle photos, plus other Medieval artwork, on the Metropolitan Museum of Art webpage here.