Linking your favorite traveling artists across the globe
The early Medieval period starts with some of the earliest surviving works we have--the Gregorian chants--and extends through composers such as Leonin and Perotin, whose works were highly embellished versions of Gregorian chant. In the east, Russian and Byzantine chant were developed to a high degree by the end of the early Medieval period.
Gregorian chant was originally written for a single voice, although more than one monk would sing. Later, that voice was doubled at the octave, for those monks whose range was not suitable for the chant as written. Still later, the practice of organum was established, writing for a voice a fifth above the original part.
But there was more than just religious music--this era was the flowering of the troubadours in the south of France, and the trouvères in the north of France--itinerant minstrels who sang not only religious songs, but songs about love, war, and albi (dawn songs), meant to rouse a lover from a married woman's bed before her husband waked. The tradition was also present in modern-day Germany (at that time part of the Holy Roman Empire), where the minstrels were called Minnesingers and Meistersingers. Jongleurs, those who did not compose but performed others' works, were vilified in manuscripts, but were very common because few people of the day were well-enough trained to be able to compose. It is in this period that we have the first preserved works of women composers, most notably Hildegard of Bingen, but also many trouvères and troubadours.