Spotlight: Secular Music (1100 AD) – or nonreligious music


Secular music is non-religious music. Secular means being separate from religion (not associated or concerned with religion).  In the West, secular music developed in the Medieval period – ca. 1100 AD – and was used in the Renaissance. Swaying authority from the Church that focused more on Common Law influenced all aspects of Medieval life, including music. Secular music in the Middle Ages included love songs, political satire, dances, and dramatic works. Drumsharpsrecorders, and bagpipes were the instruments used in secular music because they were easy for the traveling musicians to tote about. Instruments were taught through oral tradition and provided great dancing music and accompanied the stanzas well.

Words are an important part of secular music. Words were added for most and many common people to sing songs together for entertainment. Music styles were changed by secularization.  The largest collection of secular music from this period comes from poems of celebration and chivalry of the troubadours (composers) from the south of France. These poems contain clever rhyme-schemes, varied use of refrain-lines or words, and different metric patterns.

Secular music also was aided by the formation of literature during the reign of Charlemagne (Charles the Great – King of England) that included a collection of secular and semi-secular songs.

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