Melodic Ornamentation

6 sessions - Self-paced | Next offering in Fall Term 2021

Course Description

Melodic ornamentation was a crucial feature in the performance of vocal and instrumental music during the Middle Ages. Singers and instrumentalists used it to color, enhance, amplify, emphasize, or obscure certain elements of the melodic line (or text). It also helped them to create different sounding textures, to catch the interest of the audience, and to show their musical and technical skills. Furthermore, ornamentation placed a piece within certain regional and stylistic contexts and could have even contributed to melodic/textual memorization. The arsenal of ornamentation devices used by medieval performers included pitch inflection, repercussive and tremulous sounds, passing and neighboring tones, and the substitution and transposition of notes and entire melodic segments. The goal of this course is to learn to ornament medieval vocal and instrumental melodies.

In this course, students will:


Explore the nature and use of ornaments in medieval musical and rhetorical discourses


Examine the indications given in contemporary treatises (900-1300)


Identify ornamentation recorded in written music


Consider different stylistic traits and the use of ornaments in different repertoires, regions, and periods.


Create ornamentation charts


Apply (both written and extempore) ornaments to a collection of pieces in different styles

Dr. Mauricio MolinaInstructor:
Dr. Mauricio Molina



Open September 27 - December 27, 2021
6 sessions – Self-paced




Non-credit: 260€
1.5 credit ECTS: 310€


English - Spanish


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


Session 1 | The Concept of Ornamentation in Medieval Music and Rhetoric

Session 2 | Pitch Inflection and Repercussion I

Session 3 | Pitch Inflection and Repercussion II

Session 4 | Passing and Neighboring Notes

Session 5 | Substitution and Transposition

Session 6 | Long Melismas

Teaching Methodology

This course will be comprised of:

    • 6 tutorial videos of 15 minutes each (total 1.5 hours)
    • 6 recorded lectures of 1 hour each (total 6 hours)
    • 3 live Q&A sessions of 1hour and 15 minutes each conducted biweekly through the first six weeks of the course and will be recorded so that students can access them at any time (total 3 hours and 45 minutes)
    • Downloadable materials and links to additional resources

Schedules and assignments:

    • The course is self-paced. The majority of lessons will be posted on the first day of the term and students can work at their own pace until the platform is closed for the semester, with access to the pre-recorded video lessons, accompanying materials, and the course forums
    • 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: