Melodic Improvisation
(Vocal and Instrumental)

6 sessions - Self-paced

Course Description

Melodic improvisation was an important aspect of vocal and instrumental medieval music performance. Music treatises, and music and literary sources record the creation of extempore preludes, postludes, interludes, and even full melodies in connection to the performances of both religious and secular music. To construct an impromptu melody, singers and instrumentalists relied on their theoretical and practical knowledge of contemporary melodic modal practice. Melodic fragments stored in the mind were recalled and re-assembled to create a spontaneous melodic discourse. The goal of this course is to learn to improvise vocal and instrumental preludes, interludes, postludes, and full melodies in the modes of G and D (in connection to different repertoires, styles, and functions).

In this course, students will:


Explore the whole conception and practice of invention and improvisation in medieval culture


Survey and analyse theoretical and musical sources that record the practice


Study modal and non-modal constructions, melodic formulas, and melodic “families”


Identify medieval rhetorical devices and translate them in the construction of melodies


Compile and memorize melodic formulas to be used extempore in the creation of preludes, interludes, postludes and entire melodies

Dr. Mauricio MolinaInstructor:
Dr. Mauricio Molina



February 19 to June 10, 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 | Understanding Medieval Improvisation

Session 2 | Melodic Modes in Practice (Intonation Formulas, Neumae, and Latin Formulas)

Session 3 | Crafting an Improvised Discourse (Inventio)

Session 4 | Improvising Outside of the Melodic Modes

Session 5 | Composing Preludes, Postludes, and Interludes

Session 6 | Different Styles and Repertoires 

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: