Music in History

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litourgical drama

early middle ages

  Liturgical drama
From 10th to 13th century, liturgical dramas were medieval works presented inside the church. Their stories were taken from the Bible and they were written in Latin. Liturgical drama was never a part of the church' s liturgy, at least not officially. Theatrical action and, occasionally, monophonic music were included. Liturgical drama  has its roots in ancient Greek drama.
A Liturgical drama performance took place during the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church like Christmas, Easter and Epiphany. Poetry and music were included in those feasts, in order to impress and to emphasize the importance of the events mentioned.  Initially, the priests played the roles.

Α liturgy has its own theatrical elements, that is, standard dialogs taken from the Gospel and some chorus parts. During 10th century, Benedictine monks wrote, hymns, litanies and tropes and  they put  music on them. The term "Trope"  refers to adding extra sections to a plainsong in order to make it suitable for  performance on the occasion of a feast. Tropes  had a great response throughout the church and they were in use until-about-late 17th century. They had a dramaturgical structure and they were to be sung alternately by two choirs, consisted of men and boys.
The story of the liturgical drama begins with the tropes which were  sung as an introduction (introit) to liturgy of Easter / Christmas.

From 14th to 16th century, liturgical drama turned to mystery, this time outside the church, outdoors. These representations were about  Christ's life, the Acts of the Apostles, etc. Mysteries  were  written in  vernacular and they were under the auspices of  a noble. They included  music for dances, fanfares and  various processions. Those feasts  might last many  days.  In Italy they were  known as sacre rappresentazioni .The liturgical  drama and mysteries are  considered ancestors of the opera.
The history of medieval theater is directly related  to the liturgical drama and mysteries.

                                      Saint Nicolas Drama 12th cent

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