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Introduction to Medieval Music at Davidson Middle School

Medieval music specialists Annette Bauer (co-director of Bay-area based medieval ensemble Cançonier; medieval recorders, bagpipes, bells) and Michelle Levy (vielle) introduced 10 classes of 7th graders at Davidson Middle School to medieval Western music through live performance, guided listening to recorded samples, instrument iconography, and student discussions about timeline and social background to the music examples presented. Some of the concepts discussed were the different strata of medieval European society (church, court, city, countryside) in which music was composed, performed, and notated, ideas of plainchant, polyphony, improvisation, courtly music, dance music, some medieval musical forms, as well as examples of early notation. Instruments played live included the vielle (a medieval precursor of the modern violin) various sizes of medieval recorders, bagpipes, and a medieval bell tree. These presentations tied in with the students’ history of medieval Western Europe unit that had been finished just prior to the musicians’ visit.

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