Medieval Music

Medieval Music brings richness and variety

The Music

Many people have never heard a note of medieval music and can’t really imagine what it sounds like. If they think of anything, they think of Gregorian chant. But there is actually a great deal of variety in medieval vocal music.

  • It uses tunings and musical scales that are different from what we normally find in classical music
  • It approaches rhythm, text, and articulation in varied and exceptional ways
  • It can create an intimate musical experience that transports the listener through immersion in its extraordinary sounds

The Experience

Dispense with any preconceived notions about medieval costumes, reenactments, or elaborate theatrics. The clarity of the music and its distinctive sonorities are the star of every Medieval Women’s Choir performance. Here, individual voices join together to create a rich musical community, united in the pursuit of expression and beauty.

  • The music we sing has its roots in Europe
  • The Medieval Women’s Choir performs in many languages, often with period dialects and pronunciations
  • While you may not understand the individual words, the direct intensity of the music never fails to convey the overall meaning
  • Translations are provided should audience members wish to follow along or explore the texts further

The Sound

All the richness and variety of medieval musical culture can be found in the vocal music of the era. Most of the medieval music that has come down to us today is vocal music, so a choir or vocal ensemble is the natural vehicle for experiencing it.

  • The instruments heard accompanying the Medieval Women’s Choir are known as “period instruments”
  • Period instruments are antique instruments or carefully built replicas that closely resemble the instruments used in the medieval era
  • These instruments feature a more supple, transparent tone that complements the choir’s unique vocal color, providing depth and contrast to the overall musical landscape
  • Since very little instrumental music was ever written down, our instrumentalists are, by necessity, formidable improvisers, just like their medieval forbears

The Space

Acoustics are important to all music, but in earlier times acoustical space exerted a critical influence on composition. Medieval music elevates the venue to an equal partner in the music making. The MWC chooses its venues carefully to assure that we do not merely perform in a space, but along with it.

The Distinction

Few cities in the United States have a resident ensemble dedicated to the performance of medieval music. Major cities may get a chance to hear medieval music once a year, if that, usually performed by a touring ensemble. The concerts and public outreach of the Medieval Women’s Choir give medieval music a far higher profile in Seattle, and provide a musical home for lovers of medieval music from across the region.