medieval music notation

The Earliest Medieval Music Notations (850-1200)

6 sessions - Self-paced

Course Description

The ninth century was a time of impressive cultural growth. Charlemagne’s reform called for revision of the academic curricula of all liberal arts and, even more important, the unification of the liturgy. The study of music was also renovated, and secular and monastic institutions throughout the empire faced the important task of training schoolboys and girls in both the theory and practice of music in an updated fashion. In addition, the imposition of Roman chant beyond the Alps made these institutions feel the urge for precise means to explain, codify, and transmit the basic elements of musical praxis.

It is in this context that several music scripts blossomed from the mid-ninth century onwards, each focusing on different parameters of music: theoretical writers invented signs for the discussion of tone systems that indicated precise intervals between notes and neumatic scripts were used to precisely convey the nuances of chant (even if the repertoire was meant to be transmitted orally). And while new developments were introduced as time went by, most of the early notational systems coexisted up to c. 1100, when they were replaced progressively by staff notation.

In this practical course, students will:


Learn to distinguish the musical notations developed before modal notation (13th century)


Learn how to decipher the symbols of the earlier notations through the study of musical and theoretical sources of the period (c. 850 – 1200) 


Transcribe and read earlier notations directly from manuscripts


Explore the repertoires associated with the earlier medieval notations

Raul LacillaInstructor:
Raúl Lacilla



Sep 18, 2023 – Jan 15, 2024
6 sessions – Self-paced


Sep 18, 2023 – Jan 15, 2024
6 sessions – Self-paced



Price 1.5 creds

1.5 credit ECTS: 320€


English - Spanish


Student must have basic musical knowledge and be able to read modern music notation.


Session 1 | Music notation in theoretical writings

Session 2 | Neumatic notation 1 (St. Gall)

Session 3Neumatic notation 2 (Laon)

Session 4 | Aquitanian notation

Session 5 | The invention of diastematy

Session 6 | Square notation and Hufnagel notation

Teaching Methodology

This course will be comprised of:

    • 6 tutorial videos of 20-35 minutes each (total 3.5 hours)
    • 6 recorded lectures of 45 minute each (total 4.5 hours)
    • 3 biweekly live Q&A sessions of 1hour and 15 minutes each (total 3.5 hours) conducted through the course. The sessions will be recorded so that students can access them at any time.
    • Downloadable materials and links to additional resources

Schedules and assignments:

    • The course is self-paced.
    • The majority of pre-recorded video lessons, lectures, and study materials will be posted on the first day of the term.
    • Students will have access to all session and their materials until the last day of the term.
    • The student workload to review the materials and complete the assignments is approximately 6.25 hours per session
    • There will be some suggested deadlines to submit assignments
    • Homework will be accepted until a week before the end of the term
    • Students taking the course for credit must complete all assignments and class requirements

Technical Requirements

    • Broadband Internet connection / WIFI

    • External or internal webcam
    • External or internal microphone
    • Speakers or headphones
    • Possibility of printing downloaded materials
    • Possibility of scanning your assignments
    • Possibility of auto-recording (audio and video)

Enroll Now

Places are limited for each section, so sign up early.

The International Course of Medieval Music Besalú offers singers and instrumentalists the possibility of studying the repertoires of monodic and polyphonic music composed between the 11th and 13th centuries.

With the support of: