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The song below seems to have a definite medieval flavour to it, but what causes this? Is it the guitar or vocal melodies? What scale/mode aspects give this feel?

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That piece simply holds qualities associated with music written for medieval-themed films. Music written in the medieval ages would sound more like this: That piece is definitely not medieval music. – American Luke Oct 11 '13 at 0:18
Yes, that's what I meant. – amoe Oct 11 '13 at 10:18
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'll give this a shot. Some elements contributing to a Medieval sound are

  • Minor-key, modal melody (I think it is Dorian)

  • Melody is catchy and song-like and follows a resolution pattern that resembles old drinking songs or sailor songs.

  • The 6/8 rhythm also contributes to a drinking-song feel.

  • Harmonic voice-leading features prominent parallel motion (parallel fifths jump out)

  • The strummed instrument is troubadour-like

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This comment comes from an anonymous visitor who posted it as an "edit" comment: the song is in the key of G. the mode is not aeolian but dorian (aka harmonic minor) which means you will flat the 3rd and 7th note in the key you are in. Since this song is in G, you will have G,A,B flat, C,D,E and F ( F=your flatted 7th) – luser droog Oct 28 '13 at 7:08

I agree. In particular, it reminds me of the Nibelungenlied (as sung by Knud Seckel). I hear three clear similarities:

  • the melody, which uses the same incomplete scale and is actually quite similar
  • the harmonization, which stresses fifths and does not use the fuller chords we're accustomed to from later European music
  • the instrumentation, which is sparse and improvised
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