Originating in the Medieval Era, it is recognized as having contributed significantly to the evolution of European classical music, secular music and music notation. Originally created to be performed in the medieval church, the themes are always religious.
Early sacred music was very simple in form with a uniform sound and rhythm, as well as one melody and no accompaniment. It played an important role within society and was usually sung by religious leaders. The height of fashion during the Renaissance, it became more complex, incorporating various melodies, sounds and synchronization.
There are two main styles: formal, where the focus is on communicating the lyrics, and complex, where a wall of sound is created conveying a sense of wonder and serenity. Performed by either individuals or groups, the sound may be one unified sound or separate parts, performed simultaneously. Grouped or cyclic rhythmic patterns are typically used to express a response to a religious concept. Each religion uses its’ own combination of: percussion, string, brass and woodwind instruments, in orchestras or bands.
Choirs – choral music
When sung by a choir, its’ correct term is choral music. Choral music is written for a choir to perform. From any era and structured in many different ways, the music is polyphonic and may be performed with or without musical accompaniment.
Dating back to the 4th century, music written to be performed at Christmas, is called a carol. Carols may be written in a traditional or a modern style. An essential part of Christmas celebrations, they may or may not include lyrics. Carols can be heard in churches, performances and homes throughout the Christmas period.
Music written to be performed at Easter tends to be music that is more traditional in style. Choral music from the past is very popular in churches at Easter.
A poignant part of the wedding day, wedding music is specially chosen music that is played at a specific point during the ceremony or festivities, usually whilst the bride walks down the aisle and for the bride and groom’s first dance.
Only featuring instruments that are not electronic, acoustic styles of sacred music are more traditional in sound and often take influences from folk music.
Used to aid meditation, meditation music has traditionally had a religious theme; however, modern meditation music may have other non-religious influences.