Medieval Songs

Learn about the popular types of Medieval Songs during the Medieval Period *Famous and Popular Writers and Composers of Medieval Music.

Discover the Most Famous Medieval Songs during the Medieval Period such as Foy Porter, Greensleeves and the Song of Roland.

There were many different types of medieval songs composed that became well known and famous during medieval times, particularly during the high and late medieval period.


With the passage of time from early to later medieval times, the songs composed throughout Europe underwent clear changes with the decreasing influence of the Church and flourishing popularity of secular songs.


For instance, Gregorian Chant was an important early tradition, a monophonic included in the early music of the Christian Church.

Medieval Songs History

The History of the medieval songs started from early medieval times but this period is mainly dominated by religious medieval songs.

Medieval Songs Song of Rowland

This was because musicians and singers did not enjoy the social status of note and were dependent on the nobles and the clergy for their sustenance.


Other than Gregorian chant, songs were also used in liturgical drama which mainly dealt with the lives of the saints and stories from the scripture.

From tenth century onward, however, secular songs also become quite prominent.

Types of Medieval Songs

Various types of medieval songs were prevalent during medieval times. During the middle and late medieval times, the composition of medieval songs changed because of the introduction of new techniques and rhythmic notations.

One popular form of medieval song from this period was called “conductus” which was sung rhythmically by one or more voices.

A famous collection of poems and songs from the era is called Cantigas de Santa Maria which is attributed to Alfonso X El Sabio.

Popular Medieval Songs

During the medieval times, various popular medieval songs were written by European monastic orders such as Benedictines, Capuchins, Augustinians, and others.


Among the secular songs of the medieval times, “Greensleeves” is important and was composed by King Henry VII.

Medieval Kings King Henry VIII

Popular Songs and Song Collections Included

  • Sequentia
  • Cansos de Trobairitz
  • Cameranta Mediterranan

A wide range of religious lyrical songs have also survived from the middle medieval times. Some of the popular religious medieval songs are gathered in “Visions from the Book” a medieval book of songs that can be purchased online.

The Song of Rowland was a famous medieval song

Famous Medieval Songs Writers

Many famous medieval song composers and writers have left their mark on history. During the middle medieval times, polyphony developed in elaborate forms in Paris and St. Martial Limoges.

One of the most popular song writers from the era is PĂ©rotin who belonged to the Notre Dame School.

Another famous medieval song writer is Bingen who hailed from Germany and composed monophonic songs in Latin. During the late medieval times, synthesis of multiple threads of medieval music was beautifully done in the songs of Guillaume de Machaut.

Summary of Medieval Songs

During the early medieval times, musicians and song writers did not enjoy a social status of note. This was because musicians and their profession were not held in any regard by the Church.


However, music itself became increasingly important in the Church and thus the era is mainly dominated by religious music.

During the middle and late medieval times, secular medieval songs and music became increasingly prominent and various noteworthy innovations were seen in the techniques of song composition and singing.