Music in Medieval England, from the end of Roman rule in the fifth century until the Reformation in the sixteenth century, was a diverse and rich culture, including sacred and secular music and ranging from the popular to the elite.
The sources of English secular music are much more limited than for ecclesiastical music. Medieval musicians had a wide variety of instruments available to them. The Anglo-Saxon scop and gleeman were replaced in the thirteenth century by the minstrel.
In the early Middle Ages, ecclesiastical music was dominated by monophonic plainchant, the separate development of British Christianity until the eighth century, led to the development of a distinct form of liturgical Celtic chant. This was superseded, from the eleventh century by Gregorian chant. England retained unique forms of music and of instrumentation, but English music was highly influenced by continental developments, while British composers made an important contribution to many of the major movements in early music in Europe, including the polyphony of the Ars Nova and laid some of the foundations of later national and international classical music. English musicians also developed some distinctive forms of music, including the Contenance Angloise, the rota, polyphonic votive antiphons and the carol and the ballad.
The impact of humanism on music can be seen in England the late fifteenth century. Edward IV chartered and patronised the first guild of musicians in London in 1472, a pattern copied in other major towns cities as musicians formed guilds or waites, creating local monopolies with greater organisation, but arguably ending the role of the itinerant minstrel. There were increasing numbers of foreign musicians, particularly those from France and the Netherlands, at the court. The result was a very elaborate style which balanced the many parts of the setting and prefigured Renaissance developments elsewhere.
Surviving sources indicate that there was a rich and varied musical soundscape in medieval England.  Historians usually distinguish between ecclesiastical music, designed for use in church, or in religious ceremonies, and secular music for use in places from royal and baronial courts, celebrations of some religious events, to public and private entertainments of the people.  Because literacy, and musical notation in particular, were preserves of the clergy in this period, the survival of secular music is much more limited than for church music. Nevertheless, some were noted, often by clergymen who had an interest in secular music. 
Medieval musicians had a wide variety of instruments available to them. These included the shawm, fiddles, rebec, crwth, portative organ, trumpet, timbrel, lute and bagpipe.  In Anglo-Saxon England, the professional poet was known as a scop ("shaper" or "maker"). Often attached to a royal or noble court, he composed his own poems, and sang them accompanied by an instrument, usually a harp. Beneath the scop was the gleeman, who was usually itinerant, and performed the works of others.  In the late thirteenth century, the term minstrel began to be used to designate a performer who earned their living with poetry and song. They often performed other entertainments, such as jesting and acrobatics. 
The Venerable Bede's story of the cattleman, and later ecclesiastical musician, Cædmon, indicates that at feasts in the early medieval period it was normal to pass around the harp and sing 'vain and idle songs'.  The existence of an oral tradition of music is suggested by Aldhelm, who was of Bishop of Sherborne from 715, and who set religious lyrics to popular songs in order to spread the Christian message.  Thanks to Bede, one of Cædmon's songs survive as "Cædmon's Hymn",  but since this type of music was rarely notated, there is now little knowledge of its form or content. 
In the early Middle Ages, ecclesiastical music was dominated by monophonic plainchant.  The separate development of British Christianity from the direct influence of Rome until the eighth century, with its flourishing monastic culture, led to the development of a distinct form of liturgical Celtic chant.  Although no notations of this music survive, later sources suggest distinctive melodic patterns.  This was superseded, as elsewhere in Europe, from the eleventh century by Gregorian chant.  The version of this chant linked to the liturgy as used in the Diocese of Salisbury, the Sarum Use, first recorded from the thirteenth century, became dominant in England. This Sarum Chant became the model for English composers until it was supplanted at the Reformation in the mid-sixteenth century, influencing settings for masses, hymns and Magnificats.  Singing techniques called gymel, a technique of temporarily dividing up one voice part, usually an upper one, into two parts of equal range, but singing different music, were introduced in England in the thirteenth century. Church music was often accompanied by instruments such as the guitar, harp, pipes and organ.  The earliest evidence of two handed, polyphonic organ music is in the Robertsbridge Codex, from around 1325. 
In the fourteenth century, the English Franciscan friar Simon Tunsted (d. 1369), usually credited with the authorship of Quatuor Principalia Musicae: a treatise on musical composition, is believed to have been one of the theorists who influenced the 'Ars Nova', a movement which developed in France and then Italy, rejecting the restrictive styles of Gregorian plainchant in place of complex polyphony.  The tradition was well established in England by the fifteenth century and was widely used in religious, and what became, purely educational establishments, including Eton College, and the colleges that became the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  The motet 'Sub Arturo plebs' attributed to Johannes Alanus and dated to the mid or late fourteenth century, includes a list of Latinised names of musicians from the English court that shows the flourishing of court music, the importance of royal patronage in this era and the growing influence of the ars nova.  Included in the list is J. de Alto Bosco, who has been identified with the composer and theorist John Hanboys, author of Summa super musicam continuam et discretam, a work that discusses the origins of musical notation and mensuration from the thirteenth century and proposed several new methods for recording music. 
From the mid-fifteenth century there are relatively large numbers of works that have survived from English composers in documents such as the early fifteenth century Old Hall Manuscript. Probably the first, and one of the best represented is Leonel Power (c. 1380–1445), who was probably the choir master of Christ Church, Canterbury and enjoyed noble patronage from Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence and John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford (1389–1435). John Dunstaple (or Dunstable) was the most celebrated composer of the 'Contenance Angloise' (English manner), a distinctive style of polyphony that used full, rich harmonies based on the third and sixth, which was highly influential in the fashionable Burgundian court of Philip the Good.  Nearly all his manuscript music in England was lost during the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536–40), but some of his works have been reconstructed from copies found in continental Europe, particularly in Italy. The existence of these copies is testament to his widespread fame within Europe. He may have been the first composer to provide liturgical music with an instrumental accompaniment.  Royal interest in music is suggested by the works attributed to Roy Henry in the Old Hall Manuscript, suspected to be Henry IV or Henry V.  This tradition was continued by figures such as Walter Frye (c. 1420–75), whose masses were recorded and highly influential in France and the Netherlands.  Similarly, John Hothby (c. 1410–87), an English Carmelite monk, who travelled widely and, although leaving little composed music, wrote several theoretical treatises, including La Calliopea legale, and is credited with introducing innovations to the medieval pitch system. 
A rota is a form of round, known to have been used from the thirteenth century in England.  The earliest surviving piece of composed music in the British Isles, and perhaps the oldest recorded folk song in Europe, is a rota: a setting of 'Sumer Is Icumen In' ('Summer is a-coming in'), from the mid-thirteenth century, possibly written by W. de Wycombe, precentor of the priory of Leominster in Herefordshire, and set for six parts.  Although few are recorded, the use of rotas seems to have been widespread in England and it has been suggested that the English talent for polyphony may have its origins in this form of music. 
Polyphonic votive antiphons emerged in England in the fourteenth century as a setting of a text honouring the Virgin Mary, but separate from the mass and office, often performed after compline.  Towards the end of the fifteenth century they began to be written by English composers as expanded settings for as many as nine parts with increasing complexity and vocal range.  The largest collection of such antiphons is in the late fifteenth century Eton choirbook. 
The word carol is derived from the Old French word carole, a circle dance accompanied by singers (in turn derived from the Latin choraula). Carols were very popular as dance songs from the 1150s to the 1350s.  Carols developed in the fourteenth century as a simple song, with a verse and refrain structure.  Their use expanded as processional songs sung during festivals, particularly at Advent, Easter and Christmas,  while others were written to accompany religious mystery plays (such as the Coventry Carol , written before 1534).  Because the tradition of carols continued into the modern era, more is known of their structure and variety than most other secular forms of medieval music. 
The traditional, classical or popular ballad has been seen as beginning with the wandering minstrels of late medieval Europe.  As a narrative song, their theme and function may originate from Scandinavian and Germanic traditions of storytelling that can be seen in poems such as Beowulf.  The earliest example of a recognisable ballad in form in England is "Judas" in a thirteenth-century manuscript.  From the end of the fifteenth century there are printed ballads that suggest a rich tradition of popular music. A reference in William Langland's Piers Plowman indicates that ballads about Robin Hood were being sung from at least the late fourteenth century and the oldest detailed material is Wynkyn de Worde's collection of Robin Hood ballads printed about 1495.  Early collections of English ballads were made by Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) and in the Roxburghe Ballads collected by Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer (1661–1724). Increasing numbers were collected from the eighteenth century, some of which may date back to the medieval era. 
The impact of humanism on music can be seen in England the late fifteenth century under Edward IV (r. 1461–1483) and Henry VII (r. 1485–1509). Although the influence of English music on the continent declined from the mid-fifteenth century as the Burgundian School became the dominant force in the West, English music continued to flourish with the first composers being awarded doctorates at Oxford and Cambridge, including Thomas Santriste, who was provost of King's College, Cambridge, and Henry Abyngdon, who was Master of Music at Worcester Cathedral and from 1465–83 Master of the King's Music.  Edward IV chartered and patronised the first guild of musicians in London in 1472, a pattern copied in other major towns cities as musicians formed guilds or waites, creating local monopolies with greater organisation, but arguably ending the role of the itinerant minstrel.  There were increasing numbers of foreign musicians, particularly those from France and the Netherlands, at the court, becoming a majority of those known to have been employed by the death of Henry VII.  His mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was the major sponsor of music during his reign, commissioning several settings for new liturgical feasts and ordinary of the mass.  The result was a very elaborate style which balanced the many parts of the setting and prefigured Renaissance developments elsewhere. 
Medieval music encompasses the sacred and secular music of Western Europe during the Middle Ages, from approximately the 6th to 15th centuries. It is the first and longest major era of Western classical music and followed by the Renaissance music; the two eras comprise what musicologists generally term as early music, preceding the common practice period. Following the traditional division of the Middle Ages, medieval music can be divided into Early (500–1150), High (1000–1300), and Late (1300–1400) medieval music.
Polyphony is a type of musical texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords, homophony.
Renaissance music is traditionally understood to cover European music of the 15th and 16th centuries, later than the Renaissance era as it is understood in other disciplines. Rather than starting from the early 14th-century ars nova, the Trecento music was treated by musicology as a coda to Medieval music and the new era dated from the rise of triadic harmony and the spread of the ' contenance angloise ' style from Britain to the Burgundian School. A convenient watershed for its end is the adoption of basso continuo at the beginning of the Baroque period.
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music. Musical Masses take their name from the Catholic liturgy called "the Mass".
In music, monophony is the simplest of musical textures, consisting of a melody, typically sung by a single singer or played by a single instrument player without accompanying harmony or chords. Many folk songs and traditional songs are monophonic. A melody is also considered to be monophonic if a group of singers sings the same melody together at the unison or with the same melody notes duplicated at the octave. If an entire melody is played by two or more instruments or sung by a choir with a fixed interval, such as a perfect fifth, it is also said to be monophony. The musical texture of a song or musical piece is determined by assessing whether varying components are used, such as an accompaniment part or polyphonic melody lines.
The lauda or lauda spirituale was the most important form of vernacular sacred song in Italy in the late medieval era and Renaissance. Laude remained popular into the nineteenth century. The lauda was often associated with Christmas, and so is in part equivalent to the English carol, French noel, Spanish villancico, and like these genres occupies a middle ground between folk and learned lyrics.
Ars nova refers to a musical style which flourished in the Kingdom of France and its surroundings during the Late Middle Ages. More particularly, it refers to the period between the preparation of the Roman de Fauvel (1310s) and the death of composer Guillaume de Machaut in 1377. The term is sometimes used more generally to refer to all European polyphonic music of the fourteenth century. For instance, the term "Italian ars nova" is sometimes used to denote the music of Francesco Landini and his compatriots, although Trecento music is the more common term for the contemporary 14th-century music in Italy. The "ars" in "ars nova" can be read as "technique", or "style". The term was first used in two musical treatises, titled Ars novae musicae by Johannes de Muris, and a collection of writings attributed to Philippe de Vitry often simply called "Ars nova" today. Musicologist Johannes Wolf first applied to the term as description of an entire era in 1904.
The conductus was a sacred Latin song in the Middle Ages, one whose poetry and music were newly composed. It is non-liturgical since its Latin lyric borrows little from previous chants. The conductus was northern French equivalent of the versus, which flourished in Aquitaine. It was originally found in the twelfth-century Aquitanian repertories. But major collections of conductus were preserved in Paris. The conductus typically includes one, two, or three voices. A small number of the conductus are for four voices. Stylistically, the conductus is a type of discant. Its form can be strophic or through-composed form. The genre flourished from the early twelfth century to the middle of thirteenth century. It was one of the principal types of vocal composition of the ars antiqua period of medieval music history.
Anglican church music is music that is written for Christian worship in Anglican religious services, forming part of the liturgy. It mostly consists of pieces written to be sung by a church choir, which may sing a cappella or accompanied by an organ.
French classical music began with the sacred music of the Roman Catholic Church, with written records predating the reign of Charlemagne. It includes all of the major genres of sacred and secular, instrumental and vocal music. French classical styles often have an identifiably national character, ranging from the clarity and precision of the music of the late Renaissance music to the sensitive and emotional Impressionistic styles of the early 20th century. Important French composers include Pérotin, Machaut, Du Fay, Ockeghem, Josquin, Lully, Charpentier, Couperin, Rameau, Leclair, Grétry, Méhul, Auber, Berlioz, Alkan, Gounod, Offenbach, Franck, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Bizet, Chabrier, Massenet, Widor, Fauré, d'Indy, Chausson, Debussy, Dukas, Vierne, Duruflé, Satie, Roussel, Hahn, Ravel, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, Auric, Messiaen, Françaix, Dupré, Dutilleux, Xenakis, Boulez, Guillou, Grisey, and Murail.
The Magnus Liber or Magnus liber organi, written in Latin, was a repertory of medieval music known as organum. This collection of organum survives today in three major manuscripts. This repertoire was in use by the Notre-Dame school composers working in Paris around the end of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth centuries, though it is well agreed upon by scholars that Leonin contributed a bulk of the organum in the repertoire. This large body of repertoire is known from references to a "magnum volumen" by Johannes de Garlandia and to a "Magnus liber organi de graduali et antiphonario pro servitio divino" by the English music theorist known as Anonymous IV. Today it is known only from later manuscripts containing compositions named in Anonymous IV's description. The Magnus Liber is regarded as one of the earliest collections of polyphony.
The Winchester Troper refers to two eleventh-century manuscripts of liturgical plainchant and two-voice polyphony copied and used in the Old Minster at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire, England. The manuscripts are now held at Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 473 and Oxford, Bodleian Library Bodley 775 . The term "Winchester Troper" is best understood as the repertory of music contained in the two manuscripts. Both manuscripts contain a variety of liturgical genres, including Proper and Ordinary chants for both the Mass and the Divine Office. Many of the chants can also be found in other English and Northern French tropers, graduals, and antiphoners. However, some chants are unique to Winchester, including those for local saints such as St. Æthelwold and St. Swithun, who were influential Bishops of Winchester in the previous centuries. Corpus 473 contains the most significant and largest surviving collection of eleventh-century organum. This polyphonic repertoire is unique to that manuscript.
Willi Apel was a German-American musicologist and noted author of a number of books devoted to music. Among his most important publications are the 1944 edition of The Harvard Dictionary of Music and French Secular Music of the Late Fourteenth Century.
The modern state of Italy did not come into being until 1861, though the roots of music on the Italian Peninsula can be traced back to the music of ancient Rome. However, the underpinnings of much modern Italian music come from the Middle Ages.
The Contenance angloise, or English manner, is a distinctive style of polyphony developed in fifteenth-century England which uses full, rich harmonies based on the third and sixth. It was highly influential in the fashionable Burgundian court of Philip the Good, and on European music of the era. Its leading proponent was John Dunstaple, followed by Walter Frye and John Hothby.
Early music of Britain and Ireland, from the earliest recorded times until the beginnings of the Baroque in the 17th century, was a diverse and rich culture, including sacred and secular music and ranging from the popular to the elite. Each of the major nations of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales retained unique forms of music and of instrumentation, but British music was highly influenced by continental developments, while British composers made an important contribution to many of the major movements in early music in Europe, including the polyphony of the Ars Nova and laid some of the foundations of later national and international classical music. Musicians from the British Isles also developed some distinctive forms of music, including Celtic chant, the Contenance Angloise, the rota, polyphonic votive antiphons, and the carol in the medieval era and English madrigals, lute ayres, and masques in the Renaissance era, which would lead to the development of English language opera at the height of the Baroque in the 18th century.
Music in early modern Scotland includes all forms of musical production in Scotland between the early sixteenth century and the mid-eighteenth century. In this period the court followed the European trend for instrumental accompaniment and playing. Scottish monarchs of the sixteenth century were patrons of religious and secular music, and some were accomplished musicians. In the sixteenth century the playing of a musical instrument and singing became an expected accomplishment of noble men and women. The departure of James VI to rule in London at the Union of Crowns in 1603, meant that the Chapel Royal, Stirling Castle largely fell into disrepair and the major source of patronage was removed from the country. Important composers of the early sixteenth century included Robert Carver and David Peebles. The Lutheranism of the early Reformation was sympathetic to the incorporation of Catholic musical traditions and vernacular songs into worship, exemplified by The Gude and Godlie Ballatis (1567). However, the Calvinism that came to dominate Scottish Protestantism led to the closure of song schools, disbanding of choirs, removal of organs and the destruction of music books and manuscripts. An emphasis was placed on the Psalms, resulting in the production of a series of Psalters and the creation of a tradition of unaccompanied singing.
Music in Medieval Scotland includes all forms of musical production in what is now Scotland between the fifth century and the adoption of the Renaissance in the early sixteenth century. The sources for Scottish Medieval music are extremely limited. There are no major musical manuscripts for Scotland from before the twelfth century. There are occasional indications that there was a flourishing musical culture. Instruments included the cithara, tympanum, and chorus. Visual representations and written sources demonstrate the existence of harps in the Early Middle Ages and bagpipes and pipe organs in the Late Middle Ages. As in Ireland, there were probably filidh in Scotland, who acted as poets, musicians and historians. After this "de-gallicisation" of the Scottish court in the twelfth century, a less highly regarded order of bards took over the functions of the filidh and they would continue to act in a similar role in the Scottish Highlands and Islands into the eighteenth century.
Church music in Scotland includes all musical composition and performance of music in the context of Christian worship in Scotland, from the beginnings of Christianisation in the fifth century, to the present day. The sources for Scottish Medieval music are extremely limited due to factors including a turbulent political history, the destructive practices of the Scottish Reformation, the climate and the relatively late arrival of music printing. In the early Middle Ages, ecclesiastical music was dominated by monophonic plainchant, which led to the development of a distinct form of liturgical Celtic chant. It was superseded from the eleventh century by more complex Gregorian chant. In the High Middle Ages, the need for large numbers of singing priests to fulfill the obligations of church services led to the foundation of a system of song schools, to train boys as choristers and priests. From the thirteenth century, Scottish church music was increasingly influenced by continental developments. Monophony was replaced from the fourteenth century by the Ars Nova consisting of complex polyphony. Survivals of works from the first half of the sixteenth century indicate the quality and scope of music that was undertaken at the end of the Medieval period. The outstanding Scottish composer of the first half of the sixteenth century was Robert Carver, who produced complex polyphonic music.
The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society (PMMS), also spelled as the Plainsong and Mediæval Music Society, is an English music society. Founded in 1888, the PMMS primarily researches, promotes and produces publications on medieval music, particularly the liturgical chant from that time to the present. A registered charity since 1987, it has been particularly influential in encouraging the revival of Anglican chant. Musicologists associated with the PMMS include H. B. Briggs, Anselm Hughes, G. H. Palmer, and George Ratcliffe Woodward, and more recently Gustave Reese, D. H. Turner, John Stevens and Christopher Page.