Western music has been an integral part of our society beginning with the medieval period when the first notated manuscripts were uncovered circa A.D. 900. Thanks to the ever-changing aspects of musical style, western music has continued to influence different cultures around the world today.
Medieval music consisted mainly of vocal pieces, which were occasionally accompanied by an assortment of instruments. Cathedrals were the focal point of musical existence during this time period. Sacred music, which is related to the church, includes melodies such as the Gregorian chant, unaccompanied Latin manuscript; organum, a Gregorian chant with an extra melody added to it; the ordinary mass, a compilation of five prayers; and finally, unfamiliar scales otherwise known as church modes. These were all lyrical songs, without the presence of instruments. Members of the church often looked down upon the accompaniment of musical instruments with these melodies. Clergy viewed instruments as distractions and as tools of the devil; nevertheless, instruments became progressively more popular within the church after about the year 1100. .
In addition to the lack of instruments, the church did not allow women to sing; however, women were permitted to compose music for convents. Hildegard of Bingen was one such woman who wrote sacred music for choirs in convents. Not only did Hildegard compose music for church choirs, but she also wrote pieces of music that could be performed outside of the church, otherwise known as secular music. .
Troubadours and trouveres, also known as French nobles, were responsible for beginning the secular music movement. Lutes, fiddles, pipes, and harps were popular instruments during this time. Unfortunately most secular pieces were not recorded, and those pieces that were, are fairly difficult to perform because of the lack of rhythm notation. About 1,650 secular melodies have been discovered and preserved, many of them dating as far back as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.