Voices & Instruments

| July 18-22, 2017

O Roma nobilis – Music on the Pilgrimage Routes (Jerusalem, Rome, Conques, Salas, Limoges, Compostela, Montserrat, and Canterbury)

Dr. Mauricio Molina and Voices and Musical Instruments Faculty

Medieval Music voices and instrumentsCourse dedicated to the performance of monophonic and polyphonic repertoires composed between 1100 and 1300. The Course combines medieval music theory classes, ensemble playing, and individual lessons on singing and different musical instruments (see list below).

Group classes: English and Spanish
Individual classes: language agreed with the teacher



O Roma nobilis facsimilePilgrimage was one of the principal activities of the Middle Ages. During this period, people of all classes flocked to shrines to beg for the forgiveness of their sins, to find miraculous relief for different types of spiritual or physical suffering, or simply to deepen their faith. Music was crucial in the journey of the pilgrim. Songs and dances were used to alleviate the tediousness of the road, to foment a sense of community, and to prompt spiritual communication with God.

Pilgrimage songs might have been performed passionately and in an unapologetic manner: we know that energetic dance-songs were common and that musical instruments were used to accompany these pieces. These performances surely made the most conservative clerics uncomfortable. That is why in some sources pilgrims’ music is described as being “dishonest and impious”. Pilgrims not only performed music, they also had the opportunity to listen to some of the most exquisite compositions of the period.

In the main shrines, new polyphonic and monophonic music was being developed with the purpose of enriching their religious ceremonies. The music, in combination with the Romanesque and gothic architectonic spaces, the painting and sculptures on the walls, and the smell of incense surely contributed in creating the most spectacularly sensual and spiritual experience for the pilgrims.


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The Vocal and Instrumental Program is composed of the following classes:


Optional class:

Class Descriptions

Theory and Performance of Medieval Music

Dr. Mauricio Molina
Group class in English
2 hours per day (Monday-Thursday)

Medieval performers had the ability to add improvised vocal and instrumental preludes, interludes, and postludes to songs and dances. The common description of such a skill in literature reveals the degree of admiration that this practice had among medieval audiences. Although information about how these improvisations were specifically done is scarce, the reconstruction of such a practice can be attempted through an analysis of medieval literature, music treatises, and written pieces that hint at these types of extempore additions. 

In 2017 we will attempt to reconstruct different techniques of melodic improvisation that are appropriate for the construction of preludes, interludes, and postludes. By the end of the week students will have created an inventory of historically informed improvisational techniques that could be applied to vocal and instrumental monophonic pieces.

Officium in mane

José Pizarro
Group class
45 minutes per day (Monday-Thursday)

Session of vocal warm up and basic vocal technique for instrumentalists followed by the performance of different pieces from the repertoire.

Pythagorean Tuning for Singers

Cristina Alís Raurich
45 min per day (Monday-Thursday)

Session for singers to work on Pythagorean tuning in the context of both monophonic and polyphonic music.

Medieval Ensemble

Dr. Mauricio Molina
Group class
2 1/2 hours per day (Monday-Friday)

The purpose of the ensemble is to study different repertoires, ensemble techniques appropriate to each one, and the production of a concert for the end of the course.

Repertoire for 2017: Pilgrimage music from Rome, Santa María de Salas (Aragón), Limoges, Conques, and Canterbury. 


Voice & Instrument Lessons

One-on-one or in small groups
50 minutes per class (Monday-Friday)


José Pizarro / Lorena Garcia

  • Proper vocal production for medieval repertoires based on the information contained in medieval sources.
  • Diction, articulation, and tuning.
  • Ornamentation as indicated by contemporaneous treatises.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)


Alejandro Tonatiuth Hernández

  • Study of the first two tunings of the vielle given by Jerome of Moravia (13th century)
  • Development of appropriate playing techniques and their application to different repertoires.
  • Development of ornamentation, melodic and rhythmic accompaniment, and the elaboration of different types of drones, preludes, and postludes.
  • Reconstruction and study of “solo” pieces based on vocal repertoire.
  • Introduction to the practice of self-accompaniment for singers who want to accompany themselves with the vielle while singing.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)


Martí Beltrán

  • Study of different plectrum techniques.
  • Creation of an accompaniment combining melodic, “intervallic,”, and rhythmic elements.
  • Study of solo pieces with the application of ornaments developed from medieval data, and the use of improvisation for the creation of preludes and postludes.
  • Study of the difference between the tuning, ornamentation, and playing techniques of the Oriental and Western Medieval lutes.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)


Raúl Lacilla

  • Technical matters such as air-pressure control, fingering, reed setting and tuning by ear according to Pythagorean system either by manipulating the reeds or using wax.
  • Articulation and ornamentation according to the treatises; study of the notation, repercussive ornaments, fifthting, substitution, etc.
  • Preluding and postluding in the most common modes.
  • Use of the drones, key principles of organum.
  • Singing while playing; key pronunciation of medieval languages.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)


Claire Piganiol

  • Work based on the study of extant sources about medieval harps (iconography, repertoire, treatises, literary sources).
  • Instrumental repertoire, improvisation and ornamentation techniques.
  • Study of fingerings in melodic and polyphonic playing.
  • Development of several tuning systems and possibilities for producing ficta.
  • Techniques for the accompaniment of monophonic music.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)

Portative Organ

Cristina Alís Raurich

  • Finger technique, bellow control and tuning.
  • Tuning with other instruments.
  • Instrumental repertoire, improvisation and ornamentation techniques.
  • Techniques for the accompaniment of monophonic music.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)

Medieval Frame Drums and Percussion

Dr. Mauricio Molina

  • Tambourine, square frame drum, tariya.
  • Reconstruction of performance techniques based on both the study of medieval sources.
  • Development of a rhythmic accompaniment following rhythmic theories of the period (Christian and Arabic treatises).
  • Reconstruction of the sound aesthetic based on the physical and functional context of medieval percussion.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)

Frestel (Medieval Panpipe)

Raúl Lacilla

  • Proper way of holding the instrument and blowing technique: how to angle the instrument and introduce the right amount of air to achieve the appropriate tuning.
  • Reconstruction of performance techniques based on both the study of medieval musical sources and treatises.

Instruments available for rent (consult availability and pricing)

Chamber Music Sessions

Dr. Mauricio Molina
6 to 7 people per group
60 minutes per class (Monday-Friday)

Work in detail with small groups of students (mixed voice and instruments) organized by level. The focus will be on phrasing, ornamentation, tuning, style, and ensemble communication. The chamber music session has an additional cost of 60€ over the cost of the Voices & Instruments Program.


All instruments offered in the course are available for rental (based on availability)